Various supplements that can treat bacterial vaginosis are widely available for relief, but natural remedies can be a safer and more effective alternative in relieving BV’s symptoms. This article will discuss some of the best natural remedies for BV and how they work to keep the reproductive system healthy.
- What Are Some Natural Remedies For Bacterial Vaginosis?
- What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
- Conventional Treatments for Bacterial Vaginosis
- Natural Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis
- How to Use Natural Remedies for BV
What Are Some Natural Remedies For Bacterial Vaginosis?
Natural remedies can offer a safer, more effective alternative for treating bacterial vaginosis (BV) compared to conventional treatments.
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is a common kind of vaginal inflammation caused by the spread of bacteria naturally found in the vagina, which upsets the natural balance of good bacteria (lactobacilli). BV can happen to women of any age, but those in their reproductive years are more likely to get it at some point.
Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis happens when an imbalance in the normal bacteria usually populates the vagina, particularly an overgrowth of the Gardnerella vaginalis, which is the most common bacteria present. Anything that alters the chemistry of your vagina’s pH balance can disrupt bacteria levels and eventually lead to infection.
Some of these include:
- Having multiple sexual partners – The condition happens more often in women with multiple sexual partners. It also occurs more frequently in women who have sex with women.
- Douching – Rinsing out your vagina with water or a cleansing agent (douching) can sometimes do more harm and upset the vagina’s natural balance.
- Unprotected sex – Engaging in unprotected sex can expose you to bacteria and STDs and upset the balance of good and harmful bacteria in the vagina.
- Lack of lactobacilli bacteria – Women are more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis when their natural vaginal environment doesn’t produce enough good lactobacilli bacteria.
- Hormonal changes – While it’s a rarer factor in getting BV, normal hormonal changes such as those occurring during menstrual cycles, pregnancies, or perimenopause can increase the risk.
Symptoms of BV
About half of the women with bacterial vaginosis experience no symptoms, but those who do usually experience the following:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge (Usually a thin or frothy white or gray-colored discharge)
- A foul, fish-like odor (especially after sex)
- Itching on the outside of the vagina
- Burning sensation (after sex and while urinating)
- Pain during sex
There are two ways to officially diagnose BV:
- Physical exam – In a physical examination, the doctor asks about any history of vaginal problems or sexually transmitted infections. It also includes a pelvic examination, which allows the healthcare provider to observe and test vaginal secretions during or immediately after the examination. Current clinical practice also includes a speculum examination (SE) to evaluate the discharge.
- Laboratory tests – A BV test helps properly diagnose bacterial vaginal infections. There, a healthcare provider takes a sample of the discharge and runs it under a microscope to identify a specific odor or measure its pH balance.
Conventional Treatments for Bacterial Vaginosis
The more popular treatment methods for BV include:
- Antibiotics – BV is typically treated with antibiotic medications like metronidazole, clindamycin, tinidazole, and secnidazole.
- Creams – Vaginal creams are inserted into the vagina before bedtime for a certain number of days. Metronidazole and clindamycin creams, for example, are often prescribed to relieve BV.
- Suppositories – Vaginal suppositories come in solid, oval-shaped medical capsules inserted into the vagina (usually with a plastic applicator). The body absorbs drugs from vaginal suppositories better, making the treatment of fungal infections swifter and more effective.
Natural Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis
While standard medications offer effective results, natural remedies may offer a more holistic approach to health and could be an inexpensive alternative, given the rising cost of medications.
Natural treatments may also result in fewer side effects (when taken at the recommended doses) than chemically-manufactured ones.
Some of the best natural remedies for bacterial vaginosis include:
Natural or organic products
If you’ve been accustomed to ointments, creams, or capsules, it can be hard to get used to using raw natural ingredients. Thankfully, you can opt for organic, more-environmentally friendly alternatives.
One such product is FemiClear – an all-natural, all-organic vaginal ointment designed to be a convenient and more effective way to get rid of BV symptoms. Even its scent is totally natural.
FemiClear’s formula is made up of ultra-pure, certified organic and oxygenated olive oil, beeswax, essential oil, and thymol, the substance that gives thyme its strong flavor, pleasant aromatic odor and strong antiseptic properties that can kill 99.9% of gardnerella vaginalis, which causes BV.
Each pack contains 2 disposable applicators that can help measure the exact recommended dose.
Probiotics, or the lactobacillus found in probiotics, produce lactic acid, which then produces hydrogen peroxide, which contributes to a healthy vagina, establishing a defense against pathogens that could cause result in other imbalances like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and trichomoniasis.
- Lacticasebacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Lactobacillus crispatus
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Lactobacillus iners
- Lactobacillus jensenii
On the other hand, the Bifidobacteria strain helps modulate the gut microbiota, prevent inflammation, and protect from many diseases, including cancers, inflammatory bowel diseases, and even depression. It also helps maintain healthy bacteria in the vagina.
Living microorganisms like probiotics can deteriorate after exposure to the stomach’s low pH levels. Certain microbes, however, are resistant to acid. Lactobacillus species, for example, are intrinsically resistant to acid. Another study found that resistant bifidobacteria can handle the stomach’s slow pH ranges.
Probiotics may cause side effects that can occur in some people, such as a temporary increase in gas, bloating, constipation, and thirst, though these are often rare.
Some probiotic supplements may contain allergens, lactose (e.g., lactoferrin), and other ingredients that may cause adverse reactions in some people. Likewise, patients with compromised immune systems, the hospitalized, those with venous catheters, and those recently undergoing surgery should also avoid probiotics.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil with natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties that make it an effective remedy against pathogens that cause vaginal infections and can also assist in removing bacteria that cause unpleasant odors, making it a popular treatment for bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections (candidiasis).
Some people may experience negative reactions to tea tree oil, like skin irritation, allergic skin rash (dermatitis), itching, stinging/burning, redness, and dryness.
Aside from culinary purposes, many cultures have used garlic as a treatment for health conditions due to its antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Garlic contains allicin, a strong antibiotic released when cloves are crushed or chewed.
For bacterial vaginosis, garlic’s acidic and antibacterial properties help kill odor-causing germs. One study found that garlic proved to be a suitable alternative to metronidazole in treating BV, although other studies have shown varying results. Similarly, it can also help relieve yeast infections.
Despite its beneficial properties, not all studies about garlic and vaginal health have the same conclusive stance regarding its efficacy. One research found garlic to have a lesser bioavailability compared to non-enteric tablets.
Apple cider vinegar
Anecdotal evidence suggests that using apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help treat bacterial vaginosis due to its acidic and antimicrobial properties. One study found that lactic acid, which can be found in ACV, can relieve BV symptoms, while another study found ACV’s potential in providing long-term protection against vaginal infections.
Apple can cause skin irritation, dryness, and damage, especially without diluting it in water first. But diluting the vinegar does not guarantee its safety either and can still irritate the skin. It’s important to seek a dermatologist’s advice before applying it on the skin.
Boric acid is a natural chemical known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, making it a common ingredient in many types of products, like astringents, antiseptics, skin lotions, and eye wash solutions. It’s also best known for its properties in combating vaginal problems like bacterial vaginosis, where it’s often ingested as a vaginal suppository.
Various studies have attested to the efficacy of boric acid [suppositories] in treating bacterial vaginosis and other similar conditions. One study found that boric acid was 50% effective in relieving the symptoms among patients with recurring BV, while another trial found 92% of the participants who used it reported the pairing as highly effective when paired with their standard antibiotic treatments.
While boric acid is generally safe for use, it can be highly toxic when taken orally or in high amounts, so it’s important to ingest them as prescribed and keep them away from children and pets at all times. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, your doctor would suggest you avoid boric acid instead and recommend a more suitable treatment.
Poisoning from boric acid can be very dangerous and cause many health problems. Since it’s a caustic chemical, it can cause injury if it comes into contact with the tissues.
How to Use Natural Remedies for BV
One can enjoy the benefits of probiotics through supplements and dietary sources. Before settling for a particular supplement, it’s important to look into factors like the probiotic strains included in the blend, the CFU (colony forming unit) count, delivery system, and brand rep.
As for dietary sources, fermented foods usually have probiotics, or have probiotics added to them, include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread, and some cheeses.
Tea tree oil: dilution and application
To use tea tree oil for BV, prepare the following:
- Epsom salt
- 15-20 drops of tea tree oil
- Basin (if you don’t have a bathtub)
- Prepare half a tub of lukewarm water.
- Thoroughly mix half a quarter cup of Epsom salt in the water.
- Add the tea tree oil to the water and stir until the oil is completely dissolved
- Soak your lower half of the body in water for 15 minutes.
Repeat twice a day.
One can take a clove of garlic orally to relieve BV symptoms. NEVER insert garlic into the vagina, as it may burn the vaginal tissues.
Apple cider vinegar
You can apply apple cider vinegar by way of douching (with a vaginal douche)
- Dilute one (1) tsp of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water
- Put the solution in the douching bag and do the douching process.
For vaginal problems like bacterial vaginosis, boric acid is often taken as a vaginal suppository.
If you are using it with an applicator:
- Place the flat end of the suppository into the open end of the applicator.
- Lie on your back with your knees up toward the chest.
- Insert the applicator gently high into the vagina and push the plunger to release the tablet.
Boric acid treatment for bacterial vaginosis usually depends on the length of time your physician might prescribe you to use them. However, the common prescription is to use one (1) suppository once or twice a day and for a period of between 6 days and 12 weeks.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent BV
One can avoid and prevent the future risk of getting bacterial vaginosis
- Safer sex practices
- Better personal hygiene
- Choose better clothing
- Proper diet and nutrition
If BV symptoms continue to persist, or if there are further health complications, consult a doctor or gynecologist immediately.
Natural remedies are a great, iexpensive alternative to standard medications and supplements to treat bacterial vaginosis. It offers a lesser risk of side effects and allergic reactions to chemical ingredients. With all their health benefits considered, they’re worth giving a try, not only for BV, but for gaining overall optimal health too.
Before trying out anything, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider first to get a proper diagnosis and treatment prescription for your condition. Don’t forget to ask their advice before trying out any natural remedy that may be incompatible with your health needs. That way, you’re set for a smoother and faster path to recovery.