Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginal discharge in women. It can cause bothersome symptoms, and also increases the risk of acquiring serious sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV. It may be difficult to know if discharge is caused by BV or other common vaginal infections, thus a visit with a health care provider is recommended in most cases.
BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS CAUSES
BV occurs when there is a change in the number and types of bacteria in the vagina. Lactobacilli are a type of bacteria that are normally found in the vagina. In women with BV, the number of lactobacilli is reduced. The reason for these changes is not known.
Risk factors — Risk factors for BV include multiple or new sexual partners, douching, and cigarette smoking. BV is now thought to be a sexually transmitted infection, although most recurrences are not sexually related. BV can be transmitted by sex toys, oral-genital contact, and fingers. To reduce the risk of transmission, sex toys should be used with condoms, when possible, and cleaned after every use.
BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Approximately 50 to 75 percent of women with BV have no symptoms. Those with symptoms often note an unpleasant, "fishy smelling" vaginal discharge that is more noticeable after sexual intercourse. Vaginal discharge that is off-white and thin may also be present.
Some patients have itching. Pain during urination or sex, redness, and swelling are not typical.
If you have concerns about excessive or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding, or vulvar irritation, see a health care provider. Self-treatment with over-the-counter products (eg, yeast creams, deodorants) is not recommended without a definite diagnosis.
Yogurt is a natural probiotic. This means that it has plenty of healthy bacteria in it. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating yogurt may help introduce healthy bacteria back into the body. This helps establish a balanced vaginal environment, and could help fight off the bad bacteria. To get the full benefits, eat at least one serving of yogurt per day.
Yogurt contains some probiotics. But there are plenty of probiotic supplements available. According to a 2014 studyTrusted Source, there is evidence that taking probiotic supplements daily can help treat and prevent bacterial vaginosis.
If you have bacterial vaginosis, take probiotics daily to help treat and prevent future cases of bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics can come in pill or liquid form. If you’ve been on an antibiotic, this medication can kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad. So replace the good bacteria with probiotics supplements and yogurt.
Garlic has strong antibacterial properties, and it’s long been used as a home remedy for bacterial vaginosis. One study foundTrusted Source that taking a garlic supplement tablet could be an option for treating bacterial vaginosis.
4. Hydrogen peroxide
A 2003 studyTrusted Source found that about 1 ounce of hydrogen peroxide used daily for one week as vaginal irrigation was able to help treat bacterial vaginosis as well as traditional medications. It comes with the advantage of a much lower cost than these medications. It also has fewer side effects.
5. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help treat bacterial vaginosis. One small study reportedTrusted Source successful treatment of bacterial vaginosis with only tea tree oil.
Essential oils like tea tree oil need to be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut, sweet almond, or olive oil. Choose an oil you know you are not allergic to and mix 5 to 10 drops of tea tree oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil. Do not use tea tree oil without mixing it with a carrier oil first as it can burn tender skin.
Many people are allergic to tea tree oil. Before you try this home remedy test a small amount of the diluted oil on your skin before using on your tender vaginal tissue. If there is no reaction in 24 to 48 hours, it should be safe to use.
There are different ways to use tea tree oil to treat bacterial vaginosis, including mixing it with coconut oil (or another carrier oil) and soaking a tampon in it. Insert the tampon into the vagina and remove it after an hour. Remove it sooner if there is any irritation. Repeat this a few times per day. Don’t sleep with a diluted tea tree tampon in place. You can also purchase tea tree oil vaginal suppositories.
Tea tree is an essential oil and not monitored for safety, quality, or purity by the FDA. Make sure to buy it from a reputable source.
7. Boric acid
Boric acid capsules can be used to treat bacterial vaginosis. According to UWHealth , boric acid capsules can be inserted into the vagina every night for two weeks to treat bacterial vaginosis.
It’s safe to use in the vagina and has been found to be as effective as some medical approaches to treatment. However, note that boric acid is not edible; it’s toxic to eat. It should be kept away from children and animals. It’s also not safe to use if you are pregnant.