Women's Health

Alternative Treatments for Bacterial Vaginosis

Alternative Treatments for Bacterial Vaginosis

Having both “good” and ”bad” bacteria in the vagina is healthy. Nevertheless, bacterial vaginosis can develop if there is an imbalance in the two types of bacteria. When there is an overgrowth of the “bad” bacteria, they can cause inflammation that is associated with a bad-smelling, thick, whitish discharge. Other vaginal symptoms include pain, redness, and a burning sensation in a female's genital area.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a kind of vaginitis that mainly affects teenage girls and women who are in their mid-40s. Particular activities such as cigarette smoking and douching can make one prone to BV. However, what exactly leads to the infection is yet to be known. Fortunately, there are various home remedies for bacterial vaginosis.

Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis 

1. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide disintegrates into oxygen and water. It is the safest natural germicide. It oxidizes the “bad” bacteria, thus, treating bacterial vaginosis. Combine an equal amount of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Soak a tampon in the solution and put it into your vagina for around half an hour. You can also use a douche as an alternative solution.  

2. Yogurt

Yogurt is rich in “good” bacteria, especially Lactobacillus acidophilus. Take 8 ounces of yogurt daily to increase the number of the “good” bacteria in your body. Alternatively, immerse a tampon into the yogurt for 10 minutes, and then leave the soaked tampon into your vagina for two hours.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has a natural acid. It can help in maintaining the healthy balance of the body's normal flora (the bacteria found in the body without causing harm), which may be affected by the body's pH imbalance. Apple cider is also an antibacterial product, and therefore, can destroy bad bacteria.  Add 4.9 ml of apple cider vinegar to 2 cups of water. Use the solution as a douche once a day. Stop using the solution only when you recover completely from the infection. Alternatively, put 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to your bathing water and immerse yourself in the solution for around 30 minutes.

4. Tree Tea Oil

Tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties with a strong “mint-like” scent that helps in eliminating the bad smell caused by vaginitis. Add 3 drops of tea tree oil together with 3 cups of white vinegar to a warm bath. Immerse yourself for approximately half an hour. Alternatively, put warm water into a small basin and then put a few of drops of tea tree oil. Rinse your vagina using the solution once a day until the infection goes away. 

5. Garlic

Wrap a garlic clove with gauze and put it into your vagina for 30 minutes once a day. Raw garlic or garlic capsules can also be eaten every day to clear the infection.

6. Fenugreek

Fenugreek helps in strengthening one's immune system and promotes the balance of the vaginal pH level. Fenugreek is taken orally. Mix 1 teaspoon of fenugreek powder into 1 cup of yogurt. Consume the mixture two times a day. If you want to take it as a solution, add 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds to honey. Drink the solution three times a day.

7. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has chemical properties that can eliminate bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Therefore, coconut oil helps in healing bacterial vaginosis and prevents its recurrence. Use coconut oil in your cooking to improve your immune system. You can also insert a tampon that is soaked in coconut oil for two hours. Repeat this method once a day until the symptoms of vaginitis disappear.

8. Milk

Milk contains lactobacillus (friendly bacteria that can be found in the urogenital and digestive system), making it very effective for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. Milk also helps in strengthening the body’s immune system. 

  • Immerse a tampon in chilled milk and then put it into your vagina. Let the tampon remain inside the vagina for two hours and then take it out. Repeat this once a day for a couple of days to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
  • You can also put 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder into a glass full of warm milk. Drink the solution once a day until you feel better.

9. Tea Bag

Immerse a tea bag into some water and put in a fridge for a couple of minutes. Put the chilled tea bag into your vagina for around 10 minutes. You will experience a reduced in itchiness in the vaginal area.

Other Home Treatments

  • Vegetable juice - drink vegetable juice that contains green veggies, parsley, ginger, as well as garlic. The itchiness and pain that you feel as a result of the infection will be reduced.
  • Tracheal herb - steep 1 teaspoon of tracheal herb in a cup of hot water and drink it. Soon, you will feel relieved of the symptoms.
  • Neem powder - can also be used to clear the bacteria off the vagina.
  • Black walnut tincture - due to its antiseptic component, the black walnut tincture can be used for treating bacterial vaginosis.
  • Citrus fruits and juices - is a natural way of boosting your immune system. 

What causes these infections?

Antibiotics, flushing or washing the vagina using water, engaging in unprotected sex, unhealthy diet, and poor immune system are the common causes that trigger the imbalance of microflora in the vagina. A vaginal pH that is beyond 4.5 makes the vagina vulnerable to the development of potentially harmful bacteria, leading to bacterial vaginosis. Fungal infection may develop if the yeast multiply in large numbers.

Having an increased level of estrogen makes a favorable environment for healthy bacteria to thrive in your body. For this reason, women with low estrogen levels in their body have recurring vaginal infections prior or after their menstrual periods.

The usual treatment of bacterial vaginosis in women is by taking broad spectrum antibiotics. However, antibiotics kill both healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the body. They will cure BV but yeast may also grow excessively due to the absence of the healthy bacteria. Women who have recovered from BV can take antifungal drugs to get rid of their yeast infection but since the healthy bacteria in the vagina are wiped by antibiotics, the number of the “bad” bacteria increases again, leading to another bacterial infection. The cycle reoccurs and it can be extremely difficult to treat.  

What should I do?

Visit your gynecologist if it is your first time to experience vaginitis. If you had previous vaginal infections, note that BV infections are more prominent than fungal infections. If you aren’t certain about the type of vaginitis you have, buy some pH paper from the nearest pharmacy to know the pH of your vaginal discharge. A pH beyond 4.5 shows a likelihood of having BV or any other infection that is associated with the absence of healthy bacteria. On the other hand, a pH of 4.5 or below is an indication that you may be having a yeast infection. After completing your medication course, measure the pH again and check if it is approximately 4.5. A more aggressive treatment is recommended if the pH is still more than 4.5.

When should I visit a doctor?

It is important to see your physician if you suspect that you have BV and if you have the following symptoms:

  • a heavy, gray, or white discharge with an intense fish-like smell
  • a burning sensation while passing urine
  • external vaginal itching

Bacterial vaginosis normally doesn’t lead to any long-standing complications but people with BV are more vulnerable to: 

  • HIV infection
  • infecting their sexual partners with HIV
  • sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, herpes, and gonorrhea
  • infections after having an abortion or hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus)
  • pregnancy complications

Key Takeaways

  • A vaginal pH that is beyond 4.5 makes the vagina more vulnerable to the development of potentially harmful bacteria, leading to bacterial vaginosis.
  • Having an increased level of estrogen makes a favorable environment for healthy bacteria to thrive in your body.
  • Visit your gynecologist if it is your first time to experience vaginitis