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Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria.
The vagina naturally has an environment containing “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.
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.
Yogurt contains some probiotics. But there are plenty of probiotic supplements available.
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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 the good bacteria.
Garlic has strong antibacterial properties, and it’s long been used as a home remedy for bacterial vaginosis.
It comes with the advantage of a much lower cost than these medications. It also has fewer side effects.
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’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 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.
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.
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.
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’re pregnant.
Some women douche because they believe it makes them “cleaner.” In reality, it can disrupt the natural balance of vaginal bacteria and increase the chance of infection.
The vagina is self-cleaning and douching only throws off its natural environment.
According to the Office of Women’s Health, using condoms can help reduce your risk for bacterial vaginosis.
Having sex with new or multiple sexual partners without using a barrier method can increase your risk. Always use condoms or other barrier methods to help in practicing safer sex.
The anal and vaginal areas are close together. By practicing good hygiene, you can help treat and prevent cases of bacterial vaginosis.
Always wipe from front to back after using the bathroom. This means wiping away from the vagina toward the rectum to avoid any contamination from stool.
Here are several additional tips:
- Change your pad or tampon several times per day during your period.
- Always clean your sex toys with soap and hot water.
- Assume that your partner also has the bacteria on their sex organs, and you may both need to be treated.
All of this will help resolve cases of bacterial vaginosis as quickly as possible.
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.