Are There Safe And Reliable Home Remedies For Bacterial Vaginosis
In a word, no. You may have heard of popular online recommendations, including:
Apple cider vinegar
Other vaginal acidifying agents
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that home remedies really work to treat BV. And, some like douching or vaginal acidifying treatments can actually make things worse. Most vaginal acidifying treatments dont help heal the delicate bacterial balance in the vagina. Instead, they may disturb the vaginal flora further.
Likewise, probiotics given vaginally and orally have not been proven to be more effective than placebo treatments at preventing BV from coming back. While some studies suggest oral probiotics may be beneficial, more evidence is still needed to determine whether probiotics can help treat bacterial vaginosis.
Keep in mind that about one-third of BV cases get better without antibiotic treatment. So whether or not you use natural treatments for bacterial vaginosis, that same third of cases are likely to improve on their own. For the remaining two-thirds of cases that dont resolve on their own, home remedies are likely not going to do the trick.
What does help is healthy vaginal hygiene, which can prevent further irritation of the vulva and vagina. Here are some ways to better manage bacterial vaginosis and overall vaginal health:
What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Bacterial Vaginosis
Many women with bacterial vaginosis have no signs or symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, the most common include:
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, if present, can occur any time in the menstrual cycle, including before, during, or after the menstrual period. The amount of vaginal discharge that is considered normal varies from woman to woman. Therefore, any degree of vaginal discharge that is abnormal for a particular woman should be evaluated.
Is Bacterial Vaginosis Contagious
Although bacterial vaginosis is not considered to be a contagious condition, the role of transmissibility of bacteria among individuals is not fully understood. Since having multiple or new sexual partners increases a woman’s risk of developing bacterial vaginosis, this suggests that spread of bacteria among individuals may alter the balance of bacteria in the vagina and potentially predispose to development of bacterial vaginosis. However, since bacterial vaginosis also occurs in celibate women, other causative factors must also play a role in its development.
It is not possible to contract bacterial vaginosis from toilet seats, swimming pools, or hot tubs, or from touching contaminated objects.
- new or multiple sexual partners , and
- a history of sexually-transmitted infections .
In addition to these questions, the doctor will perform a pelvic exam. During the exam, the doctor notes the appearance of the vaginal lining and cervix. The doctor will also perform a manual exam of the ovaries and uterus. The cervix is examined for tenderness, which might indicate a more serious infection. The doctor may collect samples to check for Chlamydia or gonorrhea infection.
During the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis, the doctor may perform a “whiff test” with potassium hydroxide liquid. When a drop of KOH testing liquid used in the “whiff test” contacts a drop of the discharge from a woman with bacterial vaginosis, a certain fishy odor can result.
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How Do You Get Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition of the vagina caused by an overgrowth of various germs. It is not one infection, caused by one type of germ.
The vagina normally has a mix of germs , including anaerobic bacteria and lactobacilli, but in bacterial vaginosis the balance changes. As a result, the anaerobic bacteria multiply and thrive much more than usual. In other words, they are bacteria which are normally present, just not in the same balance.
BV is not caused by poor hygiene. In fact, excessive washing of the vagina may alter the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina even more, which may make BV more likely to develop or worsen.
We don’t really know what triggers the bacterial balance to ‘swing’ away from normal. We know that it’s more likely to happen if something disturbs the acidity of the vagina, , which then allows the anaerobic bacteria to overgrow.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Bacterial Vaginosis
Many girls don’t see any signs of BV. But those who do might notice:
- white or gray thin vaginal discharge
- a bad, fishy smell that’s more noticeable during a girl’s period or after sex
Itching and burning are not common signs of bacterial vaginosis. If a girl has those symptoms, the doctor will check for other conditions.
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Can Bv Go Away Without Treatment
If your body can restore its own pH balance, occasionally BV will go away on its own. If your symptoms are affecting your daily life and causing you discomfort you should talk to your GP, pharmacist or a nurse at your local sexual health clinic. They will be able to offer advice and BV treatment options.
What Is The Treatment For Recurrent Bv How Is It Treated During Pregnancy
Bacterial vaginosis can resolve completely without complications after treatment. No special follow-up is necessary if the symptoms disappear.
In pregnancy, bacterial vaginosis has been linked to premature labor, but the exact relationship is still not clear. BV has also been linked to miscarriages and other problems, so treatment during pregnancy is advised.
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How Long Does It Take For Bacterial Vaginosis To Go Away
With proper treatment, bacterial vaginosis can go away in a few days to a couple of weeks. But if left untreated, BV can sometimes take up to a few months to resolve. According to one study, it can take around 10 weeks or more for BV to clear itself from the body. Not only that, but not undergoing treatment for bacterial vaginosis can potentially raise your risk of:
Becoming infected with other STIs, including HIV
Passing HIV to your sex partner if you have HIV
Giving birth too early if you are pregnant and have BV
How Common Is Bacterial Vaginosis Is It An Std Or Yeast Infection
- Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition.
- It is the most common vaginal complaint in women of childbearing age.
- Studies have shown that approximately 29% of women in the U.S. are affected.
- Bacterial vaginosis is found in about 25% of pregnant women in the U.S. and approximately 60% of women who have an STD.
Is bacterial vaginosis an STD or yeast infection?
- Bacterial vaginosis is not the same thing as an STD or yeast infection.
- Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous, but it can cause disturbing symptoms.
- Any woman with an unusual discharge should be evaluated so that more serious infections such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be excluded.
- Symptoms may also mimic those found in yeast infections of the vagina and trichomoniasis , and these conditions must also be excluded in women with vaginal symptoms.
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How Can I Lower My Risk Of Bv
Researchers do not know exactly how BV spreads. Steps that might lower your risk of BV include:
- Keeping your vaginal bacteria balanced. Use warm water only to clean the outside of your vagina. You do not need to use soap. Even mild soap can cause irritate your vagina. Always wipe front to back from your vagina to your anus. Keep the area cool by wearing cotton or cotton-lined underpants.
- Not douching. Douching upsets the balance of good and harmful bacteria in your vagina. This may raise your risk of BV. It may also make it easier to get BV again after treatment. Doctors do not recommend douching.
- Not having sex. Researchers are still studying how women get BV. You can get BV without having sex, but BV is more common in women who have sex.
- Limiting your number of sex partners. Researchers think that your risk of getting BV goes up with the number of partners you have.
What Is The Best Medication For Bv
The best medication for bacterial vaginosis varies from person to person, and can only be determined by your healthcare provider. It will be based on your medical condition, medical history, and medications you may already be taking that could interact with bacterial vaginosis medication as well as your response to treatment. There may also be lifestyle and personal preferences regarding the use of a pill or topical gel/cream.
|Best medication for BV
- Difficulty speaking
This is not a full list of side effects. You should always talk to a healthcare professional for a complete list of possible adverse events and drug interactions. If you think you are experiencing any adverse side effects from your medication, seek medical advice immediately.
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When To See A Doctor
While bacterial vaginosis is usually mild, in more severe cases it can have lasting impacts if left untreated. Bacterial vaginosis symptoms may appear similar to other vaginal infections, and at home remedies may be unsuccessful, so itâs important to see your doctor if symptoms do not disappear.
Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics that will usually treat bacterial vaginosis within one week. Finish all of your antibiotics, even if your symptoms go away early. If you symptoms donât go away within a few days of finishing the antibiotic, go back to your doctor.
If left untreated, bacterial vaginosis can pose some severe health risks.
- A bacterial vaginosis infection may increase your chance of contracting HIV
- Bacterial vaginosis also makes it more likely that you will contract other STDs like chlamydia or gonorrhea. These STDs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease , which can make it difficult to have children.
- If you are pregnant and contract bacterial vaginosis, a premature birth becomes more likely.
What Can Happen If You Have Bv For A Long Time
Most often, BV does not cause other health problems.However, if left untreated, BV may increase yourrisk for:
- Sexually transmitted diseases like herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV
- Pelvic inflammatory disease where BV bacteria infect the uterus or fallopian tubes. Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause infertility and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
- An infection after a procedure on the female organs. This includes cesarean section, abortion, and surgery on the cervix or uterus.
- Early labor or birth, if pregnant
If you have BV:
- Always finish antibiotic treatment, even if the signs of BV go away
- Talk to female sex partners about getting BV treatment
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Management Of Sex Partners
Data from earlier clinical trials indicate that a womans response to therapy and the likelihood of relapse or recurrence are not affected by treatment of her sex partner . Therefore, routine treatment of sex partners is not recommended. However, a pilot study reported that male partner treatment of women with recurrent BV had an immediate and sustained effect on the composition of the vaginal microbiota, with an overall decrease in bacterial diversity at day 28 . Male partner treatment also had an immediate effect on the composition of the penile microbiota however, this was not as pronounced at day 28, compared with that among women. A phase 3 multicenter randomized double-blinded trial evaluating the efficacy of a 7-day oral metronidazole regimen versus placebo for treatment of male sex partners of women with recurrent BV did not find that male partner treatment reduced BV recurrence in female partners, although women whose male partners adhered to multidose metronidazole were less likely to experience treatment failure .
Remedies For Bacterial Vaginosis
For some women, mild cases of bacterial vaginosis will go away on their own. However, there are a few remedies you can try at home to relieve symptoms and speed your recovery. If you are unsure whether you have bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection, go see your doctor.
When you have bacterial vaginosis, the pH of your vagina increases. Over-the-counter tests can tell you if your vaginaâs pH is higher than normal, which can tell you if your infection is likely bacterial vaginosis. These tests arenât always accurate, so if youâre unsure, go to your doctor.
Probiotics, live bacteria found in some foods and supplements, might help restore balance to your vaginal bacteria. Studies show that eating yogurt or probiotic supplements may treat bacterial vaginosis, and is quite safe.
Another promising remedy is boric acid, a white powder with antifungal and antiviral properties. According to limited research, boric acid suppositories inserted into your vagina may help treat bacterial vaginosis, with few side effects. However, more research is needed, so itâs important to check with your doctor before using boric acid.
While doctors arenât sure how to prevent bacterial vaginosis, there are still some steps you can take that may help prevent it. These include:
- Not having sex or reducing your number of partners
- Using a male condom when you have sex
- Not douching
- Avoiding scented soaps for vaginal cleansing
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Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment Side Effects
In addition, both metronidazole pills andcreams can give you a metallic taste in your mouth.
There is a risk of C. diff diarrhea with both metronidazole and clindamycin, but the risk is greater with clindamycin pills.
What Are Effective Treatments Of Bacterial Vaginosis
Some antibiotics that have been effective in treating bacterial vaginosisinclude metronidazole , clindamycin , and tinidazole . Taking the medication in pill form can cause minor side effects, but this is considered to be the most effective treatment.
Many women who receive treatment for bacterial vaginosis will have recurrent symptoms and require another course of antibiotic therapy. It is not understood why this happens, but symptoms recur in over half of women within the year following treatment.
Your doctor can help you decide which treatment is right for you.
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How Is Bv Diagnosed
There are tests to find out if you have BV. Your doctor or nurse takes a sample of vaginal discharge. Your doctor or nurse may then look at the sample under a microscope, use an in-office test, or send it to a lab to check for harmful bacteria. Your doctor or nurse may also see signs of BV during an exam.
Before you see a doctor or nurse for a test:
- Don’t douche or use vaginal deodorant sprays. They might cover odors that can help your doctor diagnose BV. They can also irritate your vagina.
- Make an appointment for a day when you do not have your period.
Who Needs Treatment For Bacterial Vaginosis
Not everyone with BV needs antibiotics. In some mild or low risk cases, the vagina will restore the balance of good bacteria and the condition will resolve on its own.
But other cases should be treated with antibiotics. Youll need treatment if you test positive for BV and:
You have significant symptoms.
You are pregnant, even if you don’t have symptoms. Treatment for BV is safe in pregnancy. Its also necessary to prevent complications in pregnancy that are caused by BV
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Symptoms Of Bacterial Vaginosis
Often there are no symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Some women may notice a change in the normal secretions from the vagina.
This discharge will usually be white or grey, thin or watery and have a strong, unpleasant fishy smell. This can be more noticeable during and after sex, and during periods.
Bacterial vaginosis does not usually cause itching or irritation.
What Are The Side Effects
Antibiotic treatment kills not only gardnerella , but also useful bacteria in the vaginal flora that work to keep other germs in check. This means that antibiotic treatment can sometimes end up causing a vaginal yeast infection . This happens to about 10% of women who use clindamycin or metronidazole. Itching and a thick, white discharge are typical signs of a yeast infection, and it can also be treated with medication.
Other side effects may also occur. Metronidazole tablets leave behind a metallic taste in about 10% of women. Less commonly, they cause nausea and vomiting. Clindamycin is very well tolerated when used as a cream, and aside from yeast infections it has no other known side effects.
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Will I Get Bacterial Vaginosis Again
BV often recurs, usually within a few months of treatment – although if any of the behaviours which can trigger it apply to you then it may be less likely to recur if you avoid these things.
BV often returns after it has been treated. No good way has been found yet of preventing this from happening.
If you keep getting BV symptoms, your doctor will do some tests to be absolutely sure you have got BV and not any other infection. If it turns out to be definitely BV, a different antibiotic to the one you have taken previously may be tried. Occasionally regular preventative use of an antibiotic vaginal gel may be advised.
If you are using anintrauterine contraceptive device for contraception, it may be advised that you consider having this removed.