Our bodies are “home” for many bacteria, some good, some bad; and the vagina is an important part of the female body. Lactobacilli, known as good bacteria, are important as they help control the growth of bad bacteria called anaerobes. But when there are not enough lactobacilli in the vagina and too many anaerobes, the balance is upset, creating a problem call bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a form of vaginitis, an inflammation of the vagina. Although BV is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD), it can increase the risk of contracting an STD for people who are sexually active.
What causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
As mentioned above, BV is caused by lowered levels of lactobacilli leading to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria inside the vagina. However, experts are unsure what factors decrease lactobacilli (good bacteria) and increase anaerobes (bad bacteria). What they do know, however, is certain behaviors can increase the risk of BV, including:
- vaginal douching,
- unprotected sexual intercourse,
- having sex with a new partner or multiple partners,
- using antibiotics, and
- saliva in the vaginal area.
Moreover, BV is still a common vaginal infection for women of childbearing age. Therefore, it can occur even if you are not sexually active.
Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
It’s common to get BV and not have any symptoms. For those who do have symptoms, vaginal discharge is the most common sign. It may look grayish-white, yellow, and/or foamy. The odor may smell unpleasant and become worse after sexual intercourse. BV can also cause vaginal irritation, itchiness, and/or a painful or burning sensation during urination. Light vaginal bleeding and/or pain during sexual intercourse are also symptoms of BV in some cases.
Natural remedies for bacterial vaginosis
Although BV is a common irritation that often goes away on its own, it can still cause discomfort and increase the risk of contracting STDs. Therefore, for those who prefer natural treatments to medication, here is a useful infographic for treating BV, and below it are details of five home remedies for curing BV.
1. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is one way to kill the growth of harmful bacteria in the vagina. This disinfectant can also help relieve the symptoms of itchiness, pain, and inflammation. To make this natural remedy for BV, use only 3% hydrogen peroxide. And because you are applying it directly to a sensitive area, and hydrogen peroxide is quite strong, it is important to mix it with an equal amount of water to dilute the liquid first. Then soak a tampon in the solution, insert it into the vagina, and leave it for 30 minutes before removing.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains naturally potent acidic properties that can restore the pH level of the vaginal environment, making it more inhospitable to anaerobes. The usual recommendation to make this natural cure for BV is to use a solution of two cups of warm water and one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to cleanse the vagina daily for couples of days. Alternatively, you can add ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to bath water and soak in it for 30 minutes.
A third way to get rid of BV naturally is to use yogurt. Yogurt is a probiotic that can help maintain the normal pH level in the vagina due to its lactobacilli. Use only plain yogurt, as added ingredients in flavored yogurt might cause irritation or allergies. You can either consume yogurt on a daily basis or soak a tampon in plain yogurt and apply it your vagina for few hours twice per day.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil contains antimicrobial and antifungal properties which can help to reduce the infection caused by bacteria. Also, the antibacterial effect of tea tree oil can also reduce the unpleasant odor from the vaginal discharge. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil into a small bowl of warm water. Next, rinse your vagina daily with the liquid until you get rid of the infection. Another way to treat BV faster is adding tea tree oil into a bath with apple cider vinegar and soaking in it.
5. Cold Compress
Once you experience pain, vaginal inflammation, irritation, or an itching sensation, a cold compress can be an extremely effective method that helps ease the symptoms instantly and relieve you from discomfort. A cold compress is very easy to make as you can use a piece of clean cloth to wrap few ice cubes, apply it onto your vagina for a minute then break. Another option is cleansing your vagina with cold water for a few times per day.
Contributed by Rose Emma: Rose is the Senior Editor of Authority Remedies. Following her training in Food and Nutrition Dietetics at Bluffton University, she became a nutrition and health care expert. Rose enjoys circulating important knowledge that helps others stay healthy.