Does it work?
If you’re living with recurrent or chronic yeast infections, boric acid may be a treatment worth investigating. Boric acid has been used to treat vaginal infections for over 100 years.
Not only is it antiviral and antifungal, it works against both Candida albicans and the more resistant Candida glabrata yeast strains.
Boric acid is available over the counter and can be placed inside gelatin capsules that you insert into your vagina. Keep reading to learn more about this safe and affordable treatment method.
What the research says
In a review published by the Journal of Women’s Health, researchers evaluated multiple studies revolving around boric acid as a treatment for recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. They ended up finding 14 studies in total — two randomized clinical trials, nine case series, and four case reports. Cure rates with use of boric acid varied between 40 and 100 percent, and none of the studies reported major differences in yeast infection recurrence rates.
The researchers concluded that with all the available research, boric acid is a safe alternative to other treatments. It’s also an affordable alternative to more conventional treatments that may fail to target the non-albicans or azole-resistant strains of yeast.
Usage recommendations vary among the studies. One study examined the use of suppositories for three weeks versus two weeks. The result? There was little-to-no difference in outcome with the longer treatment duration.
How to use boric acid
Before you try boric acid suppositories, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor for a proper diagnosis. They can also offer guidance on how to use boric acid suppositories and other alternative remedies.
Premade boric acid suppositories can be found over the counter at most drug stores or through online retailers like Amazon.com.
Popular brands include:
You can also make your own capsules by using boric acid powder and size 00 gelatin capsules. Simply scoop or funnel the powder into the capsule, use a dinner knife to remove any excess powder from the top, and close the capsule tightly.
To insert your suppository:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before you take the capsule out of its package.
- Although you can insert the suppository at any angle, many women find it helpful to lie on their back with bent knees. You can also stand with your knees bent and your feet a few inches apart.
- Gently insert one suppository as far as it can comfortably go into your vagina. You may use your finger or use the type of applicator that comes with anti-thrush treatments.
- If applicable, remove the applicator and throw it away.
- Consider wearing a panty liner, as there may be discharge after you insert the suppository.
- Wash your hands before resuming your daily activities.
You should insert your suppository at the same time each day. You may find that bedtime works best for your schedule.
- You may see some improvement in as little as one day, but you should take the full course of medication to ensure that the infection doesn’t return.
- If your infection is particularly acute, consider taking capsules twice daily for six days to two weeks.
- If your infections are chronic, consider using one suppository each day.
- In all cases, contact your doctor for more individual help with dosage, frequency, and other concerns.
Possible side effects and risks
Although boric acid suppositories are generally safe for adults to use, minor side effects are possible.
You may experience:
- burning at the insertion site
- watery discharge
- redness in the vaginal area
If you experience severe discomfort, discontinue use. See your doctor if your symptoms persist even after ending treatment.
You shouldn’t use boric acid suppositories if:
- you’re pregnant, as the ingredients are toxic to the developing fetus
- you have a scrape or other open wound in the vagina
Boric acid can be fatal when taken orally, so it should only be used via a vaginal suppository.
Other treatment options
Boric acid is particularly effective against yeast infections caused by Candida glabrata. There are other options available, like topical flucytosine (Ancobon), that also target this more resistant yeast.
You may use Ancobon alone or in combination with the suppositories. In one study, topical flucytosine was applied nightly for two weeks in women who didn’t respond to boric acid therapy. This treatment worked for 27 out of 30 women, or in 90 percent of the cases.
You may also have an alternative treatment sitting in your refrigerator. Some women find relief from yeast infections by using yogurt. You may either eat the yogurt or apply it vaginally. Studies are lacking in this area, but anecdotal evidence suggests this method may be worth a try. If you want to give it a try, make sure you’re using plain, unsweetened yogurt that contains Lactobacillus bacteria.
If you’ve had multiple yeast infections or if your current infection has been lingering, boric acid suppositories may be just the thing to help kick your infection for good. Talk to your doctor about this treatment option and how it might help you.
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