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Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria.

The vagina naturally contains “good” and “bad” bacteria. In cases of bacterial vaginosis, there’s an excess of bad bacteria, which throws the vaginal environment out of balance.

Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition that many women can get, regardless of whether they’ve had sex. Home remedies can be used to treat and prevent it. Some may be more effective than others.

These treatments likely won’t be as effective as prescription medications. But many come without some of the side effects prescription medications can cause. In this article, we’ll cover the eight best home remedies for bacterial vaginosis, as well as what to avoid, and more.

1. Yogurt

Yogurt is a natural probiotic, which means it has plenty of healthy bacteria in it. 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.

2. Probiotics

Yogurt contains some probiotics. But there are plenty of probiotic supplements available.

According to a 2014 review, which focused on the effects of probiotics on bacterial vaginosis, there’s evidence that taking probiotic supplements daily can help treat and prevent bacterial vaginosis.

If you have bacterial vaginosis, try taking probiotics daily to help treat and prevent future cases of bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics come in pill or liquid form.

If you’ve been prescribed an antibiotic, this medication can kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad. Probiotic supplements and yogurt can help replace good bacteria.

3. Garlic

Garlic has strong antibacterial properties, and it’s long been used as a home remedy for bacterial vaginosis.

A 2014 study compared the use of garlic tablets and oral metronidazole, an antibiotic, in treating the condition. Study results showed that taking a garlic supplement tablet could be an option for treating bacterial vaginosis.

4. Hydrogen peroxide

An older 2003 study found that about 1 ounce of hydrogen peroxide used daily for 1 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 done in vitro reported successful treatment of bacterial vaginosis with only tea tree oil. That being said, additional human studies for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis with tea tree oil are still needed.

Essential oils like tea tree oil need to be diluted with a carrier oil like coconut, sweet almond, or olive oil. Choose an oil you know you’re 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 it on your tender vaginal tissue. If there’s 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’s 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 online.

Tea tree is an essential oil. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t monitor it for safety, quality, or purity. Make sure to buy it from a reputable source.

6. Breathable cotton underwear

Certain types of underwear, including spandex, aren’t as breathable as cotton underwear. Wearing underwear made of these materials can trap moisture. This can cause a breeding ground for bacteria and can worsen a bacterial vaginal infection.

According to the University of New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Wellness, to help your bacterial vaginosis heal quickly and to prevent future cases, wear cotton underwear that’s breathable.

Also, avoid wearing tight pants.

7. Boric acid

Boric acid capsules can be used to treat bacterial vaginosis.

In an early study, a combination of suppressive antimicrobial therapy and intravaginal boric acid were used to treat recurring bacterial vaginosis in 58 women.

Study results showed varying levels of successful treatment which was defined as achieving remission. The levels of success were categorized based on the makeup of the course of treatment.

It’s safe to use in the vagina and has been found to be as effective as some medical approaches to treatment.

More research is needed to better understand this treatment approach.

But 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’re pregnant.

8. Apple cider vinegar

Natural healers suggest treating BV with apple cider vinegar. Some studies may point to a correlation:

  • According to a 2018 study ACV demonstrates antimicrobial effects directly on E-coli, S. aureus, and C. albicans.
  • According to a 2017 article, ACV was effective in curing vaginal candida infection.
  • Evidence from a 2016 study suggests lactic acid-based treatments may offer some benefit in BV treatment, and ACV contains lactic acid.

Because ACV is acidic and has antimicrobial effects, proponents of natural healing suggest that rinsing the vulva in a solution of apple cider vinegar and water may alleviate symptoms.

The CDC says there’s currently little understanding of how BV spreads, so there isn’t a ton of information out there for how to prevent it. But in general, anything that changes the chemical balance in your vagina can lead to BV.

The following action steps may help prevent your risk of BS:

  • limiting your number of sex partners
  • not using scented tampons or pads or any other perfumed feminine hygiene products
  • not douching — douching can disrupt the natural balance of vaginal bacteria and increase the chance of infection; if you already have an infection, douching can make it worse
  • Using latex condoms every time you have sex
  • Not sitting around with a wet bathing suit of damp clothes — vaginitis spreads more quickly when your vulva is moist
  • Wiping carefully after pooping to avoid spreading germs from your anus to your vulva

If home remedies don’t work, bacterial vaginosis could continue and worsen if it’s not treated.

Having raw areas of skin in and around your vagina increases a number of risks, including:

If your symptoms haven’t resolved or reduced after a week of home treatment, make an appointment with your gynecologist.

Also, make an appointment with your doctor right away if your bacterial vaginosis is recurrent.

You can book an appointment with an OBGYN in your area using our Healthline FindCare tool.

Try to make your appointment on a day when you won’t have your period. This allows your doctor to take a swab of your vaginal discharge for testing.

Your doctor will likely prescribe either oral antibiotics or an antibiotic cream that can be inserted into the vagina.

What is the fastest way to treat BV?

The fastest way to treat BV is to visit get a prescription from your doctor. Getting prescription treatment will likely clear up your symptoms in 2-3 days. If you’re pregnant or undergoing any medical procedures, it’s especially important to have your BV taken care of sooner rather than later.

A doctor may prescribe you an oral or vaginal antibiotic, like clindamycin, metronidazole, or tinidazole.

Can bacterial vaginosis go away on its own?

It’s possible for BV to go away on its own, but it’s usually not worth the wait. If it does go away on its own, it may take around 2 weeks to resolve, and then keep coming back. During that time, you’d be dealing with unpleasant symptoms.

What is the difference between a yeast infection and BV?

BV and vaginal yeast infections have similar symptoms but different causes and treatments, but both cause inflammation of the vagina — vaginitis.

One of the differences between BV and a yeast infection is that BV produces a foul-smelling, “fishy” order, while a yeast infection produces no vaginal odor. Additionally, a yeast infection may cause redness and inflammation of the vulva, while BV doesn’t produce such symptoms.

To determine whether a vaginal infection is BV or a yeast infection, a doctor may:

  • Ask about the person’s medical history, including previous vaginal infections, which may have been sexually transmitted.
  • Perform an examination to look for signs of infection and vaginal discharge.
  • Take a sample of the discharge for analysis, to see whether an overgrowth of harmful bacteria or fungi is present.
  • Test the pH of the vagina, as a pH of 4.5 or above can indicate BV.

Bacterial vaginosis is a relatively common vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria. Though mild cases may resolve on their own, home remedies can be used to treat and prevent it. That being said, serious cases are best treated with prescription medication prescribed by your doctor.