How to Treat and Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis Using Natural Remedies
Having a vagina comes with a range of complications. For instance, there are very few alternatives to using the bathroom without a toilet. Menstrual cramps can also be brutal. One of the greatest setbacks of having a vagina is how easy it is to develop an odor.
Vaginal odor is an indication of several things. One of the main causes of vaginal odor is bacterial vaginosis.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, bacterial vaginosis is a condition that occurs based on changes in the organ’s bacteria levels. Oftentimes, women use natural remedies to cure this condition.
Understanding Bacterial Vaginosis
Vaginas naturally create bacteria. Typically, this imbalance is caused by an overproduction of bad bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis has several underlying causes.
The CDC states that a common cause for this condition is being sexually active. Having sex frequently, constantly changing sexual partners, and douching also cause an imbalance.
While it’s common for sexually active women to develop BV, women who aren’t having sex are also at risk. Simple actions like getting scented soap into your vagina during a shower can shift the production of good and bad bacteria.
Generally, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Therefore, it’s unnecessary, and sometimes harmful, to insert soap into it while cleaning. This causes irritation, which interrupts your vagina’s natural ability to efficiently clean itself. If anything, clean the vulva with mild soap and warm water.
Many women underestimate the impact everyday habits have on vaginal health. Did you know the foods you eat can cause vaginal odor?
Overindulging in sugars produces yeast, which leads to infection. The same applies to drink alcohol in excess. If you consume large amounts of either sugar or alcohol, consider cutting down.
In addition to practicing healthy habits, it’s wise to avoid having sex while infected. BV symptoms worsen during sex, which raises the risks of contracting other sexually transmitted infections. If you do have sex, avoid sleeping with multiple partners. Properly using condoms will also minimize the risk of spreading BV.
BV During Pregnancy
Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy is quite common. According to the American Pregnancy Association, up to 30 percent of pregnant women experience BV.
Usually, pregnant women without symptoms aren’t automatically screened for BV. Therefore, it’s important to discuss getting a screening during prenatal care.
Not only does BV impact vaginal health, but it also affects your unborn baby. Babies in-utero are more likely to be born premature, which is before 37 weeks. They’re also more likely to have lower birth weights, which can cause problems later down the line.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, BV can cause infertility. Bacterial vaginosis causes pelvic inflammatory disease, which occurs in the uterus and increases your inability to conceive.
You should also get a screening if you’ve had previous preterm labor. Once diagnosed, your healthcare provider will treat you. Early diagnosis and treatment lower the chances of preterm birth and further infection. Treatment can be taken orally or topically and range between five to seven days.
Common BV Symptoms
Most BV screenings are performed based on present symptoms. While there are several asymptomatic cases, women with bacterial vaginosis display certain signs. For instance, an overproduction of vaginal discharge is a sign of BV.
If your discharge also has a foul, fish-like odor, you likely have BV. You’re more likely to smell your discharge after sexual intercourse. In severe cases, you’ll even experience pain during intercourse.
Sometimes, women associate a vaginal odor with poor hygiene. This isn’t always the case. To remedy the smell, they find themselves furthering the problem by using soap, douches, or fragrances. In cases where improved hygiene doesn’t work, be sure to visit a doctor and get a diagnosis.
Natural BV Remedies
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to improve bacterial vaginosis symptoms. You can use any of these remedies before or instead of prescriptions since they render similar results without the side effects. If the symptoms persist, contact your healthcare provider for further instructions.
1. Eat yogurt
Usually, BV occurs based on the overproduction of unhealthy bacteria. To re-balance your good and bad vaginal bacteria, some professionals recommend eating yogurt. Yogurt contains probiotics, which are used to increase good bacteria production.
There are a variety of ways to incorporate yogurt into your diet. You can use the traditional way of eating it. You can also blend it into smoothies or make a parfait. If you enjoy frozen treats, try making yogurt drops you can enjoy as a healthy snack. Do your best to eat at least one serving every day.
If you want to try a semi-topical approach, some women create cooling probiotic tampons. According to Medical News Today, soaking a tampon in yogurt, freezing it, and inserting it into your vagina cools irritation associated with BV as well as kills off the infection.
2. Take probiotic supplements
If you’re not a big yogurt fan, try taking a probiotic supplement. When it comes to BV, probiotic supplements are great for both treatment and preventative care.
These supplements come in liquid and pill form. When taken daily, probiotics increase the good bacteria and neutralize many vaginal infections, including BV.
3. Add garlic to your diet
Garlic is a superfood known for its healing properties. Before modern medicine, garlic was used to treat a variety of ailments, including infections. One of the infections garlic treats is BV. Allicin, which is the enzyme responsible for garlic’s strong scent, has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Garlic is beneficial in treating bacterial vaginosis based on its ability to protect against the overproduction of yeast. Bread makers don’t add garlic to their recipe until after the yeast is activated to allow the bread to rise. The antimicrobial properties in allicin are believed to work just as well as prescription antibiotics to relieve infections.
Based on the versatility of garlic, the possible ways of adding it to your diet are endless. Some people simply take it on their own. It’s safe to take up to three cloves of garlic every day.
After peeling the outer layer of garlic, use your cutting knife to crush the clove. This releases allicin, which activates the healing properties of garlic.
Once you smell the strong scent, you can take the clove and cut it into pieces. You can either cut them into pill-like sizes or mince and swallow them with a spoon. Raw garlic has a strong, somewhat spicy flavor, so it’s recommended to swallow it rather than chewing it.
If the taste is overwhelming, add a bit of honey. In addition to masking the taste with sweetness, honey also has antibacterial properties. Add your minced garlic to a spoon and cover with honey. You can follow up with water to help get everything down.
An obvious way to incorporate garlic into your diet is by adding it to your recipes. Be sure not to overcook your cloves. Otherwise, you’ll lose the majority of its medicinal benefits.
4. Try using essential oils
Holistic medicine practitioners swear by essential oils, and for good reason. Essential oils are known for their antibacterial and antiviral properties and can be used in a variety of ways. One of the most popular essential oils for healing is tea tree oil.
Studies show that tea tree oil is an extremely effective remedy for bacterial vaginosis symptoms. It’s believed that tea tree oil is strong enough to cure BV on its own. Make sure the tea tree oil is purchased from a quality, reputable source.
There are a couple of ways to use essential oil. Of course, it’s important to dilute your essential oil before applying it. Otherwise, you can experience chemical burns or a potential allergic reaction. When diluting, choose a carrier oil like coconut, olive, or almond oil.
Mix up to ten drops of tea tree oil into an ounce of carrier oil. Take a tampon and soak it in your tea tree solution. Once soaked, place the tampon into your vagina and leave it in for up to an hour. You should repeat this process a few times a day. You can also purchase vaginal suppositories containing tea tree oil.
If you experience discomfort or have a negative reaction to these methods, discontinue immediately. It’s common to be allergic to tea tree oil, so do a spot test before inserting tea tree oil into your vagina.
5. Wear breathable underwear
All underwear types are not created equal. Certain materials like spandex make it difficult for your vagina to breathe. These materials trap moisture, which increases the growth of unhealthy bacteria. Tight clothes like leggings and jeans made of similar materials also contribute to BV symptoms.
To prevent excess bacteria buildup, it’s recommended to wear cotton underwear. If you wear underwear of mixed materials, make sure at least the gusset, or the lining that makes direct contact with the entrance of your vagina is made of cotton.
6. Stay on top of your hygiene
You’d be surprised about how many women unknowingly practice poor hygiene. For instance, many women wipe themselves from back to front after using the bathroom. This introduces unwanted germs and bacteria, which increase infection risk.
After using the bathroom, wipe from your vagina to your anus to avoid infection. When you’re on your period, make sure you frequently change your pad or tampon. Check your box and follow the instructed changing guidelines.
When you clean your body, avoid getting any cleanser, especially ones containing fragrance, into your vagina. The only appropriate vaginal sprays or cleansers are the ones prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Keep in mind, if you have BV, it’s likely your discharge gets on your partner during sex. Therefore, it’s good for you and your partner to be screened and treated if necessary. This prevents you from contracting it again during sex if you seek treatment without your partner.
Every woman wants a healthy, clean vagina. Being that vaginal discharge can easily be thrown off, it’s especially important to stay on top of proper hygiene and lifestyle choices to prevent bacterial vaginosis.
This bacterial infection is caused by an imbalance for several reasons and can worsen with frequent sexual intercourse. As soon as you begin seeing symptoms, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider for a screening.
This is especially important for expectant mothers. If left untreated, BV is harmful to both you and your unborn baby. Being screened early and undergoing treatment ensures your baby’s health and development.
If you participate in unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes or overindulging in alcohol, do your best to eliminate these practices to minimize BV risk. It’s also important for you to eat a well-balanced diet with minimal sugar intake.
Although BV is not a sexually transmitted infection, it increases the risk of contracting them when left untreated. Therefore, avoid sexual intercourse for as long as possible while you have this infection.
If you do have sex, be sure to practice safe sex. Also, try going to the bathroom after intercourse. Urinating allows your vagina to release bacteria that can otherwise cause infection.
One of the most important things to remember about keeping your vagina healthy is how you clean it. Use a mild, unscented soap and warm water to clean the outside of your vagina. If you need a visual example of how to properly clean your vagina, take a look at this YouTube video. Don’t worry, this demonstration uses papaya.
Bacterial vaginosis is common but preventable. By utilizing these natural remedies in conjunction with healthy lifestyle choices, we can prevent BV as well as treat this condition, one vagina at a time.