To the uninitiated, the term ‘bacterial vaginosis' might sound like some type of sexually transmitted disease (STD), which it isn't – although, to be fair, it can be spread through sexual contact. Nor is it caused by poor hygiene practices. In fact, excessive cleaning, such as by consistently douching the vagina, can do more harm than good because it can eliminate the healthy bacteria needed for vaginal health.
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?BV is a fairly common form of vaginal infection affecting thousands of women each year around the world, per besthealth.guide. Its symptoms can resemble those of the more common yeast infection, a urinary tract infection, or chlamydia. Typically, the most common symptom can be a foul, fishy odor emanating from the vagina, with some women experiencing itching, burning, or an unusual gray discharge, per medicalnewstoday.com. Just as the name suggests, bacterial vaginosis, per healthline.com, is a vaginal infection that results from an overabundant growth of bacteria, or, more specially, bad bacteria that outnumbers the good. That produces an imbalance somewhat similar in principle to when gut bacteria gets out of whack, causing digestive issues. Women can get BV whether or not they've had sex, although it is quite treatable and doesn't necessarily require prescription-strength medications such as antibiotics. Any change in the chemical pH of the vagina, as it relates to the previously mentioned imbalance of good and bad bacteria, isn't believed to be the cause of BV itself, but can make a woman more vulnerable to such infections, per medicalnewstoday.com.
Home Remedies for Bacterial VaginosisBecause BV-associated symptoms aren't often severe, most women should consider trying home remedies first before resorting to a visit to their physician for enhanced treatment that would likely include prescription medications. The infection might even go away on its own if properly treated at home by the patient, per besthealth.guide. There are a number of instances in which a woman with BV should immediately see her doctor, though, per medicalnewstoday.com:
- If pregnant.
- If experiencing more severe symptoms such as pain during urination, pain in general, or bloody discharge.
- If they have a fever, which could be sign of a different type of infection.
- If home remedies fail to resolve the problem.
- If the woman has a history of yeast infections.
- If a BV infection recurs.
- Wear breathable cotton underwear, and avoid using perfumes, douches, or soaps on the vagina as some of those products can change the vaginal pH for the worse.
- Probiotics, such as yogurt, fermented foods, and some cottage cheeses can support a healthy bacterial colony that benefits vaginal health, per medicalnewstoday.com.
- Bathe instead of shower. Per besthealth.guide, soaking in a tub can provide benefits to those infected, with remedial elements, such as chamomile oil, added to the drawn bath to aid in the healing.
- Apple cider vinegar. Often used in the kitchen to help in cooking, apple cider vinegar also has been shown effective in naturally promoting a body's pH balance.
- Turmeric. Blending it with milk and cinnamon can provide the body a boost of immunity, helping it to prevent BV in the first place or aiding a patient in recovering from the infection.
- Garlic. Its potent antibacterial properties make it a handy remedy for bacterial vaginosis, especially if you are looking to avoid prescription antibacterials, which over time and repeated use can become less effective, not to mention unwanted side effects.
- Tea tree oil. Limited research has shown it can be somewhat effective in treating BV, per medicalnewstoday.com. Tea tree oil is both an antibacterial and antifungal.
- Good hygiene. One rule of thumb when drying off is to wipe from front to back, thus not risking contamination of the vagina area from stool.