Bacterial Vaginosis usually occurs in women around ages 15-44 years old and who are in their reproductive years. It is a condition that many women can get whether they have had sex or not. Bacterial Vaginosis can be cured by medical treatment and there are home remedies that can be done to help prevent the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis.
If you suffer from Bacterial Vaginosis, don’t fret as it is the most common vaginal infection. The percentage of affected women varies from 5-70%. It is least common in Europe and Asia and most common in the continent of Africa. The rates of affected women usually vary among different ethnic groups.
This article will focus on the Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis to treat and prevent it from occurring. Since these are remedies, some can be more effective than the others. If you are suffering from bacterial vaginosis, you can try some of these home remedies especially if you do not want the side effects the prescriptions medications have.
What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial Vaginosis is an infection and inflammation caused by the increased bad bacteria in the vagina. The vagina normally contains good and bad bacteria, the good bacteria (Lactobacilli) usually outnumber the bad bacteria (anaerobic bacteria).
Whenever there is an imbalance in the vaginal environment due to the excess number of bad bacteria the natural balance of microorganisms is disrupted therefore, Bacterial Vaginosis occurs.
What are the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
There are women who do not experience any symptoms but are actually tested and diagnosed with Bacterial Vaginosis.
If you have symptoms, these are some that you may notice:
- Burning sensation when urinating
- A thin white or greyish discharge coming out of the vagina
- A foul smelling fish-like odour, more prominent after having sex
- Pain, burning sensation, and itching inside the vagina
- Vaginal itching
Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis
Here are some of the home remedies for bacterial vaginosis:
1. Probiotics – Studies have been conducted and show that using Probiotics can prevent the re occurrence of Bacterial Vaginosis. Taking probiotics supplements daily can help prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics usually come in liquid form or as a pill.
For some who have been treating bacterial vaginosis with antibiotics and other prescription medications, these can also kill off the good bacteria in the vagina. You can replace the good bacteria by taking probiotics supplements daily. Yogurt is a natural probiotic and it is commonly found in grocery stores, you can eat it daily to prevent bacterial vaginosis from occurring. If you are not lactose intolerant, eating cottage cheese helps to deal with the infection as well.
2. Celery Juice – Juicing has been a popular trend lately and there have been studies done that using fruits and vegetables can help with curing various illnesses. Celery is known for its antibacterial properties that can fight infection and one of them is Bacterial Vaginosis. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation caused by the infection.
3. Garlic – Garlic is known for its antibacterial properties and it has been used for a long time now as one of the recommended home remedies for women who are suffering from bacterial vaginosis. One study was done and women who have taken garlic supplement tablet daily has been found to be effective in treating bacterial vaginosis. Using garlic as a suppository can burn the tender skin inside the vagina so it is not advisable to do so. You can also incorporate garlic in your daily diet to maximise its effects.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide – One study was done and it was regarding the use of Hydrogen Peroxide daily for about a week as vaginal irrigation and it helped treat bacterial vaginosis. It offers fewer side effects compared to the prescribed medications but of course, it is important to consult your Physician before using it. Please note that using Hydrogen Peroxide can also affect the good bacteria in the vagina. If you decide to use this remedy make sure you are going to replace the good bacteria by taking probiotics daily.
5. Boric acid capsules – Researches and studies done by UWHealth showed that Boric Acid capsules can be used as a remedy for Bacterial Vaginosis and inserted inside the vagina every night for two weeks. Boric Acid is toxic when ingested however, it is safe to use inside the vagina and it offers the same effectiveness with the medications when treating Bacterial Vaginosis.
When using Boric Acid capsules, make sure it is stored and kept away in a safe place so children and animals will not be able to ingest it. Pregnant women are not allowed to use these capsules as it is labelled as not safe for pregnancy. Make sure to consult your Physician first before using this remedy.
6. Proper Diet – Diet with increased carbohydrates and sugar intake increases the risk of having Bacterial Vaginosis. Avoid junk food, sweets, soda and foods with high carbohydrates and sugar content. Focus on a diet rich in meat, eggs, vegetables, bone broth, raw dairy, fermented foods like Kimchi and healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil.
7. Use Cotton Underwear – Underwear made from materials like spandex does not allow air flow and can trap moisture. Increased moisture can be a cause of increased bad bacteria and it may disrupt the environment of your vagina. It can make you prone to getting bacterial vaginosis.
8. Avoid Vaginal Douching – When vaginal douching is done, it may sound that you are cleaning your vagina but in reality, you are getting rid of both good and bad bacteria and this may allow the bad bacteria to proliferate and increase in number and this occurrence may lead to bacterial vaginosis.
9. Practice good hygiene – We all know that good hygiene help to lessen and reduce the possibility of infection. When washing the genital area always clean from front to back. This prevents bacteria in the anal region from possibility invading the vagina and causing bacterial vaginosis.
When having your menstrual period, make sure to clean the genital area regularly and avoid using tampons as it increases the risk of getting bacterial vaginosis. Make sure to avoid using perfume-scented soaps, because it can also disrupt the natural flora of the vagina. Keep the vaginal area dry and avoid staying in wet underwear or swimwear for a long time, as we all know moisture attracts more bacteria. Pat the genital area dry after taking a shower.
10. Practice safe sex – To prevent bacterial vaginosis, always practice safe sex. Use condoms always and avoid having multiple sexual partners as it increases the risk of bacterial vaginosis.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar – Vinegar has been used for a long time for its antibacterial properties. It is effective in balancing the vaginal pH. You can create an apple cider vinegar solution by using 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a cup of water, use this solution twice a day as a vulva rinse.
Apple Cider Vinegar Bath
1. Fill a tub with warm water.
2. Measure 2 cups of apple cider vinegar and place in the bath.
3. Mix the bath water.
4. Soak in the bath water for approximately 15-20 minutes.
5. Use the shower to rinse the apple cider bath water afterwards. It is better not to use soap as it may increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis. Soap affects the pH of the vagina.
What are the disadvantages of using antibiotics for Bacterial Vaginosis?
Since the 1940s, antibiotics have been used to fight off different kinds of infection. Antibiotics are powerful drugs that can help deal with different types of infection in the body. Antibiotics are an effective treatment for bacterial infection however, with its great advantage, there are dangers and disadvantages that come with it as well and here are some of them:
1. Frequent use of antibiotics can cause resistance – There are instances that an infection can occur many times in a year just like some women who experience bacterial vaginosis many times a year. By treating the infection with antibiotics these can lead to bacterial resistance. If this occurs, the physician will recommend higher doses of medicine or stronger antibiotics that can have serious side effects on the body.
2. Antibiotics can cause diarrhoea – Because antibiotics work against bacteria, there are times that it can cause a person to develop diarrhoea because the good bacteria is also affected by the antibiotics. Good bacteria in the gut helps digest the food that you intake, without them diarrhoea may occur, that’s the reason why diarrhoea is one of the side effects when taking antibiotics. There are studies done that have shown that having good gut bacteria can help with reducing stress levels, improve heart health, increases metabolism, supports the immune system, and lessens allergies.
3. Antibiotics have side effects – When you are using medicine as a treatment it is normal to experience side effects, however, there are instances that adverse reactions can happen and this can be a life-threatening situation such as anaphylactic shock. Because of the side effects that come with using medications, it is always important to be aware of how the body will react to a specific medication, especially antibiotics. When taking antibiotics, it must be taken as prescribed and used wisely. It is not something that you can just take for granted. There are antibiotics that can cause sensitivity to sunlight and can also cause bone damage in the long run.
4. Antibiotics can teach good bacteria to become bad – Studies have been done before that shows bacteria being able to evolve through the process of gene transfer. It doesn’t have to occur through multiplication but it can occur through horizontal passing of genes. An example of this is a student passes a note to his friend in the school hallway. A study done shows those bacteria in the colon can pass the genetic trait to other forms of bacteria and therefore increasing the chance of antibiotics resistance.
5. Antibiotics make other infections untreatable – There are cases that occurred that shows that there is an infection like Gonorrhoea that has been resistant to antibiotics. Untreatable gonorrhoea not only causes symptoms in the body but it also predisposes an individual to other diseases like pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infections for unborn children.
6. Resistant infections can increase hospitalisation days and costs – If an individual develops resistant to drug infections, he or she will require longer treatment and may need to increase the stay in the hospital. Complications can also arise and these can be life-threatening incidents.
There are certain risks and complications that may arise from bacterial vaginosis. It is better to consult your Medical Physician or Gynaecologist so you can be tested and properly diagnosed. When visiting the doctor’s office make sure you are not on your period so the gynaecologist can do swabbing and get the vaginal discharge for testing.
If you have other symptoms and you have tried the different home remedies mentioned above but still the symptoms persists, you must prioritise consulting your doctor. Antibiotics and creams can be prescribed which can be taken orally or inserted in the vagina.
pH balancing gels are also important that can help balance out the pH of the vagina. Medical Treatment is especially important for pregnant women. Please note that using antibiotics do not automatically cure Bacterial Vaginosis, there are recurring instances that happen as using antibiotics also kill off the good bacteria found in the vagina.