The vagina is a complex ecosystem, with the good bacteria constantly locking horns with the bad bacteria – and usually winning. But sometimes, this delicate vaginal balance goes for a toss when the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria. The result is bacterial vaginosis. Typically, this condition, which affects many women, causes an abnormal vaginal discharge that may be gray or white in color, and watery and thin. You may also sense a powerful fishy smell especially after sexual intercourse or during menstruation. However, about 50–75 percent of women experience no symptoms at all.
The typical treatment path for bacterial vaginosis includes antibiotic medication or topical antibiotics. But there are several natural remedies that can also help beat the infection.1 2 Here’s what you should try:
1. Give Garlic A Go
Garlic is known for its antimicrobial powers and can rid your vagina of that bacterial infection. Specifically, a sulphuric compound known as allein present in garlic has potent antibacterial properties. In fact, according to a study, garlic tablets and metronidazole, which is conventionally used to treat bacterial vaginosis, are comparable in efficacy.
How to use: Add fresh garlic to your diet. You can also use garlic as a suppository to deal with vaginal infections. Wrap a peeled clove of garlic in some gauze and insert it in your vagina overnight to tackle bad bacteria. Remove in the morning and repeat for a few days
2. Rinse With Diluted Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is the essential oil obtained from the plant Melaleuca alternifolia. And this potent antimicrobial has long been used to treat bacterial infections. How does it work? Bioactive compounds such as alpha-terpinene, terpinen-4-ol, gamma-terpinene, and alpha-terpineol give it antibacterial as well as antifungal and antiprotozoal properties.
How to use: Rinse your vagina with diluted tea tree oil. To prepare the douche, mix a 0.4 percent concentration of the essential oil in a quart of water. You can also prepare a tea tree oil suppository by soaking a tampon in a 40 percent tea tree oil solution. Do take care that you don’t leave it in for longer than 24 hours.
3. Use Boric Acid
Boric acid is another compound that can get rid of harmful bacteria. A boric capsule can be used as a suppository for treating recurring bacterial vaginosis. However, this remedy is not recommended during pregnancy. Also, do keep in mind that it can be toxic if taken internally and shouldn’t be used on open wounds either.
How to use: Use a gelatin capsule filled with about 600 mg of boric acid powder as a suppository for 2 weeks. You can insert the capsule before you go to bed and remove it in the morning. Continuing to use a boric acid suppository a couple of times a week even after the infection clears can work as a preventive measure.
4. Try Yogurt
Friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus found in yogurt can create a hostile environment for harmful organisms in your vagina. Suppositories of Lactobacillus acidophilus can help treat bacterial vaginosis while vaginal capsules of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri can keep you infection-free for a longer duration.
It must, however, be mentioned here that yogurt’s use is still not fully established – according to some researchers, dairy lactobacillus that is found in yogurt cannot help treat bacterial vaginosis because this dairy strain is not normally found in the vagina. More research is obviously required, but there’s no harm in trying this natural remedy to see if it works for you.
How to use: Apply yogurt on your vagina, allow it to dry and rinse off with plain water. Do this twice a day for about a week. Also remember, adding yogurt to your diet can up your probiotic quotient and help prevent vaginal infections.
5. Use Hydrogen Peroxide
When you have bacterial vaginosis, normal hydrogen peroxide-producing bacteria in your vagina are replaced by large numbers of anaerobic bacteria. And that’s why hydrogen peroxide can help you tackle this condition. One study found that washing the vagina with a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide effectively eliminated symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. In fact, it’s efficacy was found to be comparable to metronidazole or clindamycin, both of which are medicines used conventionally to treat this condition. Moreover, hydrogen peroxide helped restore normal bacterial flora in the vagina.
How to use: Wash your vagina once a day with 30 ml of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution for a week.
6. Check Out Goldenseal
Goldenseal is a herb that has been used traditionally to treat bacterial vaginosis. The rhizome and dried root of this herb are typically used for this. Its effectiveness in fighting bacterial vaginosis has been attributed to the alkaloid berberine, which has beneficial antibacterial properties.
How to use: Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of this herb in a pint of water. Use this to clean your vagina twice a day.
7. Lower Your Risk Of Bacterial Vaginosis With Some Everyday Practices
The exact reasons for bacterial vaginosis is still a medical mystery, so it may not be really possible to prevent it completely. There are, however, some simple everyday steps you can take to lower your risk of getting this infection. Cut down or completely avoid feminine products like sprays, soaps, and wipes that upset your vaginal balance. Using only plain warm water to clean outside your vagina, wiping front to back after you go to the toilet, and wearing cotton or cotton-lined underwear can help protect the good bacteria in your vagina and keep you infection-free. Bacterial vaginosis can spread through sex. So using condoms or dental dams when you have sex can have a protective effect. Being in a monogamous relationship with a partner who is faithful to you can also lower your risk.
Be Cautious If You Are Pregnant
Bacterial vaginosis is common during pregnancy thanks to the hormonal changes. Statistically, 1 in 4 pregnant women tends to get bacterial vaginosis. If you are pregnant and you experience any symptoms that indicate bacterial vaginosis, do consult your doctor before you self-medicate. Bacterial vaginosis may increase your chances of complications like a low-birth-weight baby, premature birth, or even a miscarriage and should be addressed as soon as possible.