Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common infection caused when bacteria change the normal balance inside the vagina. BV is the most common type of vaginal infection in women ages from 15 to 44 1 . Bacterial vaginosis does not usually cause any vaginal itching or soreness, but often causes uncommon vaginal discharge.
How do I know if I have bacterial vaginosis?
Most women with this infection don’t experience symptoms. If you do have some symptoms, you may notice a thin gray or white vaginal discharge, itching, burning, odor, or pain in the vagina. There are women who experience a strong fishy smell, particularly after sex. You may also experience itching around the outside of your vagina, burning when urinating, or both.
Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis
The vagina naturally contains various bacteria. In cases of this infection, the number of some bacteria increases, disturbing the balance of chemicals in the vagina. It’s not clear what actually leads to these deviations in the levels of bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection, but you are at a greater risk of developing the infection if you are sexually active.
Women with this condition can pass the infection to other women they have sex with, even though it is not clear how this happens.
There is no evidence to prove the bacteria causing BV could affect male sexual partners 2 .
There are also numerous other factors that can increase the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis, including:
- using bubble baths or scented soaps
- having contraceptive device (coil or IUD) fitted
- using some vaginal deodorant
This infection is more common in women that use a coil for contraception and women who perform vaginal douching.
Signs and Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
If you have BV, your vaginal discharge may:
- develop a strong fish-like odor, especially after sexual intercourse,
- become gray or white, or
- become watery and thin
Bacterial vaginosis is not serious for most women, even though it may be a concern if these symptoms develop in pregnancy. However, around 50% of women with BV have no symptoms at all.
I’m pregnant. How does BV affect the baby?
Bacterial vaginosis can affect pregnant women. These women are more likely to have newborns who are born early (premature) or with lower birth weight (less than 5.4 pounds at birth) than women who don’t have BV while pregnant. Treatments are mostly important for pregnant women 3 .
Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment
It can typically be successfully treated using some effective home remedy (below you can find the most effective and safest home treatments), an antibiotic gel or a short course of antibiotic tablets.
- Medical Treatment
If you visit your GP, he/she will prescribe you antibiotic tablets to take 2 times a day for 5-7 days. Plus, you’ll be recommended to apply antibiotic gel inside the vagina 4 .
- Home Treatment
This infection is usually not serious and can be successfully treated at home. So, if you decide not to visit your doctor and treat bacterial vaginosis naturally, Your Health Tubers recommend you to try some of these effective natural remedies:
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree can help eliminate BV. It contains powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties, as well as a “mint-like” smell to help with the odor associated with the condition.
How to use it: If you want to use tea tree oil in the bath, mix 3 drops of it in 3 cups of white vinegar and add this mixture to your warm bath. Soak for about half an hour. Alternatively, you could also fill a small bowl with lukewarm water and mix in a few drops of the tea tree oil. Then, use this mixture to wash your vagina once a day until the infection clears entirely.
Fenugreek can help balance the pH level of the vagina. It is usually used to strengthen the immune system and. Fenugreek is known as one of best natural remedies for BV. It is taken orally.
How to use it: There are a few ways to consume it. You can mix 1 teaspoon fenugreek powder to a cup of yogurt and consume 2 times per day. Alternatively, you can drink a solution by adding 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds to 1 cup of water. Next, let the solution steep for about 5 minutes, then strain and put some honey to taste. Drink this tea up to three times a day.
- Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt contains “good” bacteria, especially lactobacillus acidophilus. This bacterium is present in a female’s body and helps in treating vaginal infections by reestablishing balance in bacteria levels.
How to use it: You can consume 220 gr (8 ounces) of Greek yogurt every day to build up the “good” bacteria in your body. Plus, you can soak a tampon in some Greek yogurt for about 10 minutes and then insert it into your vagina for 2 hours.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the main reasons BV develops is because of an imbalance in the pH levels of the vagina. As vinegar is naturally acidic, it could help in restoring the proper balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria in the body. Apple cider vinegar also has a great ability to destroy “bad” bacteria because it’s antibacterial.
How to use it: Just add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 2 cups of water, then use the mixture to douche once a day until the infection clears. Alternatively, you can put ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath and soak for about 30 minutes.
Garlic is an amazing natural antibiotic and it has potent antifungal properties 6 . It is a traditional remedy for treating many vaginal infections, especially BV and vaginal discharge. Read more about vaginal discharge and how to get rid of it: http://yourhealthtube.com/vaginal-discharge-effective-natural-remedies/
How to use it: Simply insert a clean garlic clove wrapped in some gauze into your vagina for 30 minutes once a day. Alternatively, eat raw garlic or take garlic capsules on a daily basis to help destroy the infection.
These treatments can help you get rid of bacterial vaginosis. However, it is common for this infection to return. Most women successfully treated with bacterial vaginosis find their symptoms return, often within 3 months. Women who experience frequent episodes of this infection may be referred to a GUM specialist 7 .
Scientists and doctors don’t completely understand how bacterial vaginosis is spread, and you cannot prevent it 8 .
However, the following elementary prevention steps may help lower the risk of developing this infection:
- Do not have sexual intercourse without condom;
- Not douching, and
- Limiting the number of sex partners.
Bacterial vaginosis will sometimes go away without any treatment. But if you experience symptoms of this infection you should be checked and properly treated. You can use home remedies to treat this condition, but in the case of repeated or frequent episodes of BV, you must visit your GP. A health care professional can treat this infection with antibiotics. Treatment may also decrease the risk for STDs. Male sex partners of females diagnosed with this condition generally don’t need to be treated. Though, BV can be transmitted between female sex partners.