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Bacterial vaginosis: 5 natural remedies to try!

Do you have bacterial vaginosis? Here's what it means and some easy but effective home remedies to get rid of it.
woman with a vaginal infection
Get rid of bacterial vaginosis naturally. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Shruti Bhattacharya Published: 23 May 2024, 18:00 pm IST
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Medically Reviewed by

Vaginal problems are a common problem that range from period pain to infection. Vaginal infections are one of the most common issues among women, and bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that primarily affects women during the reproductive cycle. Sexually active women are more likely to experience the problem. If you have bacterial vaginosis, you will notice a fishy odour down there and greyish vaginal discharge. If you are suffering from bacterial vaginosis, following these simple home remedies can be helpful. Here’s everything you need to know about bacterial vaginosis, its causes, and how to prevent it.

What is bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection caused by an imbalance in the normal bacterial flora of the vagina. Normally, the vagina contains a mix of beneficial bacteria, primarily lactobacilli, which help maintain a slightly acidic environment. This environment is crucial for preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. In BV, the number of lactobacilli decreases, and there is an overgrowth of other types of bacteria, such as Gardnerella vaginalis, and various anaerobes, found in a study published in the StatsPearl Journal.

Also Read: Bacterial vaginosis 101: All you need to know about this condition

woman with a vaginal infection
Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

What are the causes of bacterial vaginosis?

1. Disruption of normal vaginal bacteria

“The vagina naturally contains a mix of bacteria, primarily lactobacilli, which help maintain an acidic environment (low pH) that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. In BV, the number of lactobacilli decreases, and anaerobic bacteria such as Gardnerella vaginalis, and others increase,” says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Deepa Dewan.

2. Sexual activity

Having multiple or new sexual partners can increase the risk of BV, although it is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to a study published in Microorganisms MDPI Journal. Moreover, the vagina has a complex colony of organisms that regulate vaginal health and chemical pH. When vaginal pH or bacteria alter, the vagina becomes more susceptible to infections, increasing the chances of BV. Plus, engaging in unprotected sex can introduce new bacteria into the vaginal environment, potentially disrupting the balance.

3. Douching

Douching (washing or cleaning out the vagina with water or other mixtures of fluids) can disrupt the natural bacterial balance in the vagina, reducing the number of beneficial lactobacilli and allowing harmful bacteria to overgrow. It can also alter the vaginal pH, as per a study published in the Hindawi Journal.

4. Hormonal changes

“Hormonal fluctuations, such as those occurring during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or from the use of hormonal contraceptives, can affect the vaginal flora and increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis,” explains the expert.

What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

  • Vaginal discharge is the common symptom associated with bacterial vaginosis when you observe typically thin and greyish or white discharge down there.
  • A strong, fishy odour is a hallmark symptom of BV, particularly noticeable after sexual intercourse.
  • Some women with bacterial vaginosis may experience itching around the outside of the vagina (the vulva).
  • During urination, there can be a burning sensation while urinating. This is another common symptom of BV. Some women also report a general sense of discomfort in the vaginal.
  • The vulva and vaginal area might appear slightly red or swollen due to irritation.

5 simple home remedies for bacterial vaginosis

1. Probiotics

Probiotics help the body produce healthy bacteria that can combat the bacteria that cause BV. According to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environment Public Health, probiotic therapy may provide both short- and long-term benefits in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.

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People may want to take probiotic supplements. However, natural probiotics can help the bacterial colony that keeps the vagina healthy. This includes:

  • Yoghurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Kefir

2. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that contains antibacterial and antifungal effects. As per a study published in the American Society of Microbiology Journal, the bacteria that cause BV may be susceptible to tea tree oil. However, there have been no studies to demonstrate that this is a successful remedy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of tea tree oil
  • Cotton balls

Method:

  • Apply a few drops of tea tree oil to the vagina with a cotton ball.
  • Leave the mixture on the affected area for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off.

3. Boric acid

Boric acid is considered one of the most effective natural remedies to deal with bacterial vaginosis. According to a study published in the Trials Journal, using boric acid suppositories (vaginal suppositories that contain boric acid as the active ingredient) alongside metronidazole (Flagyl, Metrogel-Vaginal) or tinidazole (Tindamax) could help eliminate recurring bacterial vaginosis.

Method:

  • Suppositories are normally put into the vagina using an applicator and left in place for a set time, usually overnight.
  • This allows boric acid to exert its therapeutic properties.

4. Garlic

It is a popular natural remedy that can help heal infections like BV. Garlic supplements are highly beneficial in treating bacterial vaginosis, as found in a study published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, The best approach to integrate garlic is to add it directly to your food or to use garlic supplement tablets.

garlic for cold
Garlic can help you get rid of bacterial vaginosis. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5. Hydrogen peroxide

In a study published in the International Journal of STD and STI, using a hydrogen peroxide solution as a vaginal wash can help clean up vaginal odour, enhance discharge, and restore vaginal pH in BV patients. However, more research is needed to prove that hydrogen peroxide is effective for BV.

Ingredients:

  • A few drops of hydrogen peroxide solution
  • Vaginal wash

Method:

  • Take a few drops of hydrogen peroxide solution and mix with vaginal wash.
  • Leave the mixture for 2-3 minutes before washing it off.

Things to keep in mind!

  • Consult a healthcare provider: Before trying any home remedies, especially those involving insertion into the vagina, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider.
  • Potential risks: Some remedies may cause irritation or allergic reactions. Discontinue use if you experience any adverse effects.
  • Not a substitute for medical treatment: Home remedies can help manage symptoms but are not a substitute for medical treatment, especially for persistent or severe cases of BV.

If symptoms persist or worsen, seeking professional medical advice is essential to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

When to see the doctor?

If you experience unusual vaginal discharge, odour, or other symptoms that suggest you have bacterial vaginosis, immediately connect with your gynaecologist or healthcare provider. You will have to be examined and treated as soon as possible. After testing your vaginal fluid for signs of BV, doctors can provide you with appropriate therapy by prescribing a course of antibiotics to alleviate your symptoms and restore your vaginal health.

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About the Author

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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