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Natural Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis

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I'm a consumer advocate and credit specialist who works tirelessly to help people.

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Suffering from bacterial vaginosis? You can breathe a little easier. I'm going to tell you how best to relieve bacterial vaginosis yourself at home using home remedies. This is particularly beneficial for those who do not have insurance or for whom traditional antibiotics do not work. You do not have to live with BV. You can prevent it using over-the-counter products and herbs, some of which you may already have in your medicine cabinet. Always consult a qualified medical professional regarding your condition before proceeding with any home remedy recommendations.

What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Let's start by discussing just what bacterial vaginosis is. Bacterial vaginosis, or "BV," is an infection caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria within the vagina. Bacteria thrive within the human body and, at any given time, there are literally billions of bacteria living, dying and replicating in your system. The human body, however, is particularly adept at maintaining an efficient bacterial balance. Beneficial bacteria keep the numbers of harmful bacteria down, preventing an infection and keeping us healthy. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the numbers of "bad" bacteria in the vagina outnumber the "good" bacteria.

Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

Many women initially confuse BV with a yeast infection due to the fact that it shares some of the same symptoms. BV differs from a yeast infection in that a yeast infection is a fungal infection whereas BV is bacterial in nature. If you have BV, you may notice some of the following symptoms. Keep in mind that this list does not apply to everyone. You may have all of the symptoms or just one or two. Every woman's body is different.

  • Itching
  • Burning during urination
  • Watery discharge
  • Foul odor
  • Tenderness or pain in the vaginal area
  • Pain during intercourse

Getting Rid of the Vaginal Odor

Possibly the most prevalent symptom women with bacterial vaginosis experience is an extremely foul vaginal odor. Although each woman's odor differs, most describe it as a fishy smell. The odor associated with bacterial vaginosis is so strong that it can quickly permeate clothing and be an embarrassment to the sufferer. Should the woman lack any other symptoms of a problem, she may believe this odor is her and not the infection. This belief has undesirable results such as isolation and depression.

Fortunately, you can rid yourself of the foul odor relatively quickly with simple home remedies from your own medicine cabinet.

Use Tea Tree Oil to Treat Vaginal Odor

If you've ever used tea tree oil in the past, you know that undiluted tea tree oil has an incredibly strong, antiseptic smell. Don't let this deter you. If I were to choose, I'd have to say that the tea tree oil is the most effective of all potential natural remedies for the offensive odor associated with bacterial vaginosis. You can purchase tea tree oil vaginal suppositories at most drug stores.

Kill the Bacteria

The first step to actually treating your condition is to kill off as much of the bacteria within your vagina as possible. As I stated previously, treatments cannot differentiate between good and bad bacteria. That's okay. You're going to reintroduce the good bacteria into your body. For now, however, you're focusing on wiping the slate clean. Yep, you can use garlic!

Not only does garlic taste great, it's a natural antibiotic like few others, and you can use it to combat both BV and the harmful bacteria thriving within your body.

Taking garlic orally is beneficial. Most people can't force themselves to swallow or chew an entire garlic clove 6-8 times a day, but liquid garlic capsules contain concentrated amounts of this natural antibiotic and the dosage is much lower than if you were eating garlic cloves.

Note: Watch out for the odor! If you eat lots of garlic, the smell will literally seep through your pores. The same is true for some garlic supplements. If you go this route, choose an odorless variety.

DO NOT USE HERBS TO TREAT BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR NURSING WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING WITH A PHYSICIAN. SOME CAN CAUSE COMPLICATIONS.

Natural Antibiotic Herbal Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis

Many, many herbs serve as natural antibiotics. They help cleanse your body of infection and carry fewer side effects than traditional BV treatment. Keep in mind that, in excess, herbs can be just as dangerous as traditional antibiotics. Use these in conjunction with the other steps to ensure that you are fighting the bacterial vaginosis to the best of your ability. Just like your doctor's antibiotics aren't likely to work on their own, natural antibiotics can also fail without proper backup. The liquid form of these herbal treatments, if you can find it, is always more potent and better for your body than the pill form!

Herbs to consider include:

  • Oil of oregano
  • Burdock
  • Black walnut

Testing for Alkalinity

Your body strives to keep its pH in balance, but this isn't always possible. The pH balance of your vagina is naturally acidic and should remain below 4.5 at all times. When the vaginal pH shifts to a more alkaline environment, harmful bacteria thrive and can quickly outnumber the beneficial bacteria, resulting in bacterial vaginosis.

You can test your vagina's pH by purchasing litmus paper and conducting a pH test. You can pick up litmus paper at a science supply store or order it online. Some health food stores also carry litmus paper, so call around! Don't worry, no one will know you need it to test for BV. They will assume you are a student or science teacher.

You can test the pH of your vagina by swabbing some of your vaginal discharge and placing it on the litmus paper. The litmus paper will then give you a reading of your pH.

Fix Vaginal pH

Odds are, if you have BV, your litmus paper will show you a reading greater than 4.5. Even if you do not do the alkalinity test (it's optional), you must strive to get your body's alkalinity down and acid up. You can do this in several ways:

1. Drink More Water

Seriously. Put down the soda and do it. Water helps flush your body of toxins. If you can't tolerate just water (there's no shame in it), drink unsweet tea.

2. Cut out the Sugar

Don't panic, this is temporary, but you absolutely must do it. Just turn down the cookies and the soda and the bubble gum until you get the infection under control. The harmful bacteria that cause bacterial vaginosis feed on sugar and it increases their ability to fight the good bacteria in your body. Don't chance it.

3. Avoid Exposing Your Vagina to Soap

Pick your jaw up off the floor and stop looking so shocked. Most soaps and shampoos have a high alkalinity—extremely high. So, if you're scrubbing away at yourself with soap to combat the odor of bacterial vaginosis, all you're successfully doing is increasing your vagina's alkalinity and making it easier for the harmful bacteria to multiply which, in turn, makes the odor worse. Its easier to avoid soap if you shower rather than bathing in a tub of soapy water.

4. No Sexual Intercourse

For some, this is the hardest rule to stick to, but it's also one of the most important. Semen is a high alkalinity fluid. Although its alkalinity isn't as high as that of soap, its introduced directly into the vagina whereas soap is not. Intercourse is one of the worst offenders when it comes to dragging out a BV infection.

Note that I didn't say "no unprotected sex." This is because if you have BV, odds are your partner does as well. The bacteria that causes the infection doesn't only live within your body, it lives on your body, too. Unless you're both covered in shrink wrap during lovemaking (don't do that. . . you'd suffocate, and that's not how you want to be discovered, trust me), intercourse isn't safe. He loves you, he'll understand.

Introducing Good Bacteria

Ever heard of Lactobacillus? No? Well, that's the official name of the good bacteria that helps keep your vagina healthy. Lactobacillus normally keeps your vaginal pH acidic while fighting invading bacteria. Killing off the bad bacteria also kills off Lactobacillus, but you can re-populate the Lactobacillus within your body—giving it a jump on the invaders.

There are three primary methods for introducing Lactobacillus into your body to fight bacterial vaginosis.

1. Acidophilus Supplements

Acidophilus supplements are pills that contain a high amount of Lactobacillus. Once dissolved, these bacterial cultures spread throughout your body and fight the harmful bacteria where they're needed. The pills will begin working immediately, but you may need to take them for a week or so before you see noticeable results.

For quicker results, you can crush an acidophilus pill, mix it with a bit of water to make a paste and apply the paste to your vaginal cavity. It does not need to be inserted to be effective. The bacteria will travel where they're needed.

When purchasing acidophilus, look for LIVE cultures. High potency acidophilus contains 1 billion live cultures. If you can only find acidophilus that contains 50 million live cultures, take two pills daily instead of just one. You can purchase acidophilus at Wal-Mart, health food stores, and most grocery stores.

2. Plain Yogurt

Yogurt is the absolute best source of Lactobacillus you can find. My recommendation? Eat a couple servings of yogurt a day in addition to taking the acidophilus. If you're lactose intolerant, you can stick with the acidophilus alone and avoid the yogurt.

If you choose the yogurt option, make sure that you're sticking to sugar-free yogurt. You might be surprised to learn that the tastiest yogurt flavors are loaded with excess sugar that will thwart your efforts to quash the bacterial vaginosis infection.

Plain yogurt isn't very exciting, so dress it up with fruit, nuts, or granola. You can also use it to make a delicious smoothie.

Continuing Home Treatment Remedies for BV

Unless you've been spending your time living happily under a rock, you know that antibiotic-resistant bacteria flourish in our society. This is because, after a few days of treatment, the individual often feels better and stops taking his or her medication—giving the handful of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are left a chance to multiply and be passed on. In addition, the infection can come back twice as potent.

The same is true with natural home treatment for bacterial vaginosis. Do not stop your treatment regimen simply because you feel better after a day or two. Continue to treat yourself for a week, minimum. This ensures that you knock out the problem for good.

Tips to Remember When Treating BV

I'm going to leave you with a few tips to remember when treating your bacterial vaginosis at home. Hopefully, this will help you get rid of the infection and prevent it from recurring. All too often BV becomes a chronic condition and sufferers do not understand why. Keep these facts in mind when eradicating your BV infection:

  • Treat your partner too. You can cure your bacterial vaginosis, but your partner can and will give it right back to you if he or she isn't also treated.
  • Avoid beginning the home remedy treatment regimen until after menstruation. Menstrual blood is an alkaline substance and will make your efforts to stabilize your body pH much more difficult.
  • Test your pH periodically, if possible, to identify the potential for new bacterial vaginosis infections before they start.
  • Avoid bathing in the tub. If you do need a hot bath, do not allow your family members to bathe until you've cleaned out the tub with bleach or hydrogen peroxide to kill any harmful bacteria that remain. Bathing in the tub yourself without effectively cleaning it can cause your bacterial vaginosis to return.
  • Seek medical help if you're pregnant or nursing. Natural home treatment isn't for everyone and can be dangerous to pregnant women. Pregnant women should always seek help from a doctor before treating BV as both the BV itself and many effective remedies can harm the baby.

For More Information on Bv Infection

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Carrie Mays on October 23, 2018:

Thank you for the information,

Michelle on September 26, 2017:

How often do I insert the tea tree oil and olive oil tampon

Carollynne-Farion from Niagara Falls, Canada on February 15, 2017:

Uhhhhh did you just tell people to pour Hydrogen peroxide in their vaginas??? and no-one has questioned this?!

Despite what the internet says.... Please don't do this unless advised by your own personal physician.

keoka on August 21, 2016:

I just got treated from bv last month and it's seem like it's coming back again I just got the pills Today acidophilus how long does it take to see the results

Jo on May 26, 2015:

All of these are good suggestions, but I want to throw out a bit of info that seems to have been missed by the author.

1. It's been shown clinical studies that lactobacillus strains are more resistant to tea tree oil than many of the bacteria associated with bv, so chances are of you have good bacteria before you start tea tree oil, you'll still have some when you're done.

2. It's very common for women with healthy vaginal flora to have one or more bacteria that cause bv already present, it's under control because the rest of their flora is healthy. In fact the bad bacteria are only really considered bad when there is overgrowth as in the case of bv.

3. Bv is not a sexually transmitted infection.

4. It's been proven that treating a male partner doesn't make a difference in recurrence rates of bv. It's apparently very rare for men to be carriers of bv, theoretically the bacteria that causes bv is wiped out or just ejected when men urinate since the only place it has to go is the tip of the urethra, this is actually part of the reason women are in general more susceptible to sti and std. It's the change in the vaginal ph when semen is in the vagina that give bad bacteria a chance to grow out of control.

Karen Q. on May 13, 2015:

You mentioned treating your partner,how fo you treat a male? I want to be rid of bv but don't want to give up my sex life forever. Please advise.

Anita Zhafran from Earth Pharmacy on April 01, 2015:

If you don't have a problem with garlic breath, you can add this spice in generous amount into your favorite foods.

Sally on August 26, 2014:

I have been suffering from recurrent BV for over two years now. It usually occurs right after sex. I have done the GYN treatments it clears up and comes back in a few days or a week depending on my overall diet and sexual activity. So I discovered new methods I learned online to help treat this problem at home. First off it really helps to eat a healthy diet and to cut down on sugars. I feel I flare up with BV after eating too many sugary food and not to mention my intensities. I do believe I have candida and it's very challenging to overcome. So this is what helps me to stop the BV. First step is to use hydrogen peroxide douche. It kills all the bad bacteria you will feel very clean. It will stop the irritation after a few minutes. Next is to use apple cider vinegar to restore the ph level. I like to do it at least once in the morning and once at night in a bath soak or douche while bathing. It really helps relieve the pain. If your out of hydrogen peroxide you can use cider but keep in mind it doesn't work at destroying all the bacteria it only makes it harder for the bad bacteria to grow. After the cider wash your going to want to eat a lot of good plain yogurt. I recommend an organic or greek yogurt one that has good amount of strains of acidophilus. Eat at least one cup a day. I like to also do inserts of yogurt to help restore the good bacteria once in morning and once at night you can also use probotics and insert them as well. I do both equally and it usually will clear up in 2-3 days.

Loren on July 14, 2014:

First thing I'd do is see your GYN. Make sure that there isn't a serious issue there first. If everything checks out, I'd look into some natural ways of dealing with this problem.

For me I started looking into fruits and vegetables that help. Grapefruit and pineapples help a lot. There are also vitamins that help but none really showed any type of change for me.

Then after spending a few hours on the net I came across this natural supplement for women's needs and care called balance complex for women.

I've been let down before by supplements promising the world. This type of issue is especially embarrassing and I'm just thrilled this has been working so far.

Would tell any lady to not hesitate and give this a try, will change your life.

Stanley from Beaufort on July 09, 2014:

that's a lot of good info. Great hub

Jaime A. Heidel from Connecticut on January 03, 2014:

Great hub. I would like to add that it's best to use completely natural tampons instead of conventional brands as conventional brands contain bleach and added chemicals that can worsen BV.

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on October 11, 2013:

Interesting, Thank you for writing this hub. Have a great weekend.

Boby on August 07, 2013:

A girl or woman has the white jelly like fluid or liquid diahgsrce from the later childhood ie from the age of 8 or 9. The fluid keeps the vagina always wet just as our mouth wet with saliva. The white fluid fills the vagina when you see think or read any nude sex items or get near to a b/f thinking about sex. It is very common and it shows that you are ready for sex Some how infection may affect the vagina and uterus and then the diahgsrce might become yellowish or reddish and the whole area shall be itchy and painfulKeep your vagina clean inside and outside always . On period days clean it several times just like we wash our mouth with our hands and fingers. Avoid unclean sex dealings and in case of sex activities clean it immediately using clean water. Don’t get contact with unknown guys or men for sex dealings.Fingering masturbating with unclean objects( pen roller objects etc) may cause injury in the vagina and resultant infection and pain and sores. Always keep vagina and its surroundings clean and dry. Change you under garments everyday.

tina on June 08, 2013:

ive used norforma but u can still smell it but im gonna try peroxide

Sara on May 01, 2013:

Amazing job! Best info out there that I have found.

Nicole on April 21, 2013:

Can I use a regular duce bottle for the peroxide treatment

Kourtney on December 12, 2012:

How do you treat your partner??

naturalmomma on October 01, 2012:

How many days in a row should I insert garlic if I am using that tactic?

Marie on September 28, 2012:

Wonderful thank you I only use garlic but I will go get the acidophilus (-:

breese80 on August 31, 2012:

Jane- Everything I can find about the proportions says 50/50. That's what I have used and it has been incredibly helpful.

Jane on August 10, 2012:

Do you know the proportions for the hydrogen peroxide?

momster on July 05, 2012:

Great hub and very informational. Home remedies are always a great way to save money.

charly on June 26, 2012:

This was sooooo helpful! Finally I can do the right things to cure my problem. Been suffering for years with this and all the doctors have been doing is making it worse with antibiotics that only bring the infection back. Thank you so much for all this information! !!!! You saved my life!

Africa on June 07, 2012:

I've had fishy odour during my periods for some time now even went to 3 different Dr who found nothing. This article is a relief for me finally I can do something to stop the smell.

jamie on June 07, 2012:

I just want to thank you a million times...then again & again!!! As someone else had previously stated, this hub here actually contains ALL OF THE INFO that I had previously gathered from oh-so-many other sites about BV! However, I found the information provided here to be far more helpful than all of them combined!

I am so excited to start with this at-home remedie, as I have been SUFFERING with bacterial vaginosis for more than 3 years now!!! It literally hinders your (well, my) life in so many ways. It destroys the simple feeling of being free and for some...KILLS your sex life! It is just downright horrible! I never realized just how much of an issue this was with so many other women out there either, until I began my "hunt for a cure"! It's truly sad that really no medical professionals have an answer to this debilitating problem either. It's just so nice to not only feel like there are others out there whom are feeling just like me but to also suddenly gain the feeling of HOPE again...all I can say is "thank you"! I am crossing my fingers and sayin a prayer that this might finally be the answer I've long been looking for!

...I'll update sometime soon with my "results"! WISH ME LUCK!

Didge from Southern England on June 05, 2012:

I really loved this particular hub. Also, brilliantly presented Edward C..

lisa on June 02, 2012:

The best info on chronic bv!

Meowwwww on May 30, 2012:

But are these remedies safe to use while your pregnant? :o

Ladybugz on May 17, 2012:

I have stayed with your remedies with the peroxide, a cup of yogurt a day, a small glass of cranberry juice ( real one ) , lots of water , no soap and omg i am saved. I am very happy and will continue using them :) LET YOU KNOW IT TOOK ABOUT 2 DAYS TO CLEAR UP. I AM VERY VERY HAPPY !!!

latrice on April 26, 2012:

WOW!!!! THIS IS GREAT NEWS TO HERE ALL THESE YEARS OF SUFFERING FINALLY HAVE THE ANSWER I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR...I'M EXCITED ABOUT STARTING MY NEW BV CLEANSING. THANK YOU SO MUCH...

tania on April 21, 2012:

very very nice info

Womanissues on April 17, 2012:

This is the best information i have ever read ever!!! Thank you so much for the hope! They say 80% of women in the US struggle with this problem. Mine Comes and goes and i always use the Smell good things.. cant remember what they're called at this moment. But they seem to kill it off temporarily then a few weeks later it comes back, Then i dont do anything and it goes away.. a few weeks later it comes back. I will be trying almost all of the remedies for my future experiences Thank you!!!

Dinha on April 13, 2012:

Thank you sooo muche. You're the best!!!! I'm free-:)

Sharon. on February 24, 2012:

Omg. This is the best information I have had In for ever. Thank you.

Nicole on February 07, 2012:

Really great information ! This seems to have summarized everything I've read about bv on one page. I'll be referring back to this :)

Michelle on December 09, 2011:

How do we treat our husbands

as on October 12, 2011:

How do I treat my partner.

as on October 12, 2011:

I have been a sufferer for many years with the doctors being baffled to what was causing the problem. It has put a toll on my sex life but hopefully having found your site I hope I can rectify that.

Getting Rid Of Period Cramps on April 30, 2011:

There is a lot of great info on this hub. My friend recently had a case of vaginosis. I wish I would have known about these natural remedies sooner so that I could have shared it with her. I definetely learned a lot from reading this!