Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, is one of the most common causes of vaginal infection of women who are of reproductive age. While it can cause some uncomfortable (and embarrassing) symptoms, BV is typically not life-threatening.
And contrary to what you may have heard, BV is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.
If you suspect you might have BV, you may be looking for ways to help clear the infection naturally. Severe cases of BV are best treated by a doctor, but there things you can do in conjunction with your prescribed treatment to help clear the infection quicker.
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What Is BV?
Bacterial vaginosis is a bacterial infection of the vagina. Most infections are mild, and will heal on their own in just a few days. But more serious cases require medical attention.
If left untreated, BV can lead to more serious medical issues, and may put you at greater risk of contracting an STI.
BV is the most common vaginal infection in women between the ages of 15 and 44.
Pregnant women can also develop BV, and the infection can cause complications. Women who are pregnant and have BV are far more likely to have babies born prematurely or with low birth rate (under 5.5 pounds).
What Causes BV?
Just like your gut, the vagina mainains a fine balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. When bad bacteria outnumbers good bacteria, bacterial vaginosis can occur.
Doctors still don’t know what causes bacterial imbalances in the vagina, but certain things can put you at greater risk of developing BV, such as:
- Having multiple sex partners
While BV is most common in sexually active women, it can occur even if you have never had sex.
Common Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
About half of women who contract BV have no symptoms at all. Those that do have symptoms may experience:
- Gray or yellow discharge
- “Fishy” smelling vagina, particularly after sex
- Burning during urination
- Itching in the vaginal area
If you think you might have BV, your doctor will perform an exam to check for vaginal discharge. A sample of vaginal fluid will also be taken, which will be sent to a lab to determine if BV is present.
Complications of Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis will sometimes clear on its own, but what happens if it’s left untreated?
BV can eventually lead to some serious medical issues, including:
- Premature delivery (if pregnant)
- Greater risk of contracting and spreading HIV
- Increase your risk of contracting other STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
In some cases, the bacteria can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which can make it impossible or very difficult to have children.
Conventional BV Treatments
Conventional treatment of BV typically includes antibiotics to kill the bad bacteria causing the imbalance.
An oral antibiotic treatment may be prescribed, or your doctor may prescribe ovules (or capsules) that you insert into your vagina. Pregnant women must take oral antibiotics.
If you’re hoping to get rid of BV fast, conventional treatments typically clear the infection in just two to three days, but the treatment will usually last about seven days. It’s important to complete the full treatment even if you start feeling better.
Antibiotics rarely cause side effects, but they may cause a vaginal yeast infection. A yeast infection can cause redness, itching and abnormal discharge.
How to Get Rid of BV Forever Naturally at Home – 7 Ways
We know that BV occurs because of an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. Restoring the balance of good and bad bacteria will help cure the infection.
There are several ways to help restore your vagina’s natural bacterial balance.
One of the most popular home remedies for BV is yogurt. Yogurt contains live, good bacteria (lactobacillus acidophilus being the most effective) that helps restore the natural bacterial balance in the vagina.
Yogurt can be used in a variety of ways to help get rid of BV. Eating yogurt is the simplest solution. Eating eight ounces of unflavored yogurt can help build up the population of good bacteria in your body.
But many women prefer to actually insert the yogurt into their vagina. Plain yogurt can be inserted with clean fingers, or by soaking a tampon in the yogurt and inserting it.
How long does it take for yogurt to cure BV? It can take anywhere from a few days to a week or more for yogurt to restore the good bacteria in the vagina.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
A natural disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the bad bacteria to help restore balance. The great thing about this remedy is that it requires something most people already have in their medicine cabinets.
For this remedy, you’ll need 3% hydrogen peroxide.
- Mix equal parts peroxide and water.
- Soak a tampon in the solution.
- Insert into the vagina for 20-30 minutes.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Acidic in nature, apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help restore natural pH levels in the vagina. ACV is also antibacterial, so it can help kill the bad bacteria that’s causing the infection.
One of the most popular ways to use this remedy is to:
- Add 1/2 cup of ACV to a warm bath.
- Soak in the bath for 30 minutes.
Take a bath with ACV daily until the infection clears.
4. Tea Tree Oil
With natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, tea tree oil can be an effective remedy for BV.
The natural minty and lemony scent of the oil, can also help mask the fishy smell that commonly occurs with BV.
Taking a bath with tea tree oil is a great way to help clear the infection. You can also add warm water to a small bowl, add a few drops of the oil to the water, and rinse the vagina until the infection is gone.
Fenugreek has long been used as a remedy for feminine issues. This potent spice has been shown to strengthen the immune system and help restore the vagina’s natural pH levels.
Fenugreek can be taken orally in a capsule, or you can add the spice to your daily serving of yogurt.
Another way to use this remedy is to steep fenugreek seeds in a cup of hot water for five to ten minutes. Strain out the seeds, add honey to taste, drink and enjoy. Fenugreek tea can be drank up to three times per day.
Garlic is nature’s antibacterial, and it can help boost your immune system to naturally fight BV. Just like with yogurt, there are a few ways to use garlic as a remedy for bacterial vaginosis.
One simple way is to wrap the garlic in gauze, and insert into your vagina for 30 minutes each day.
If you don’t like the idea of inserting garlic into one of the most sensitive areas of your body, you can also take garlic capsules or eat raw garlic. Raw garlic is a great immune booster, and has beneficial antifungal properties.
7. Coconut Oil
Like garlic, coconut oil has natural antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. There are several ways to use this oil to help eliminate your BV.
One way is to simply cook with the oil to help boost your immune system.
Another way is to soak a tampon in the oil, and insert it into your vagina for 20-30 minutes. Be sure to rinse the area when you’re done, and repeat once per day until the infection clears.
In many cases, bacterial vaginosis will clear up in a few days on its own. But incorporating these remedies into your routine can help you get over the infection quicker, so you can get back to life as normal.
Of course, if your symptoms do not clear up in two to three days or are severe, see your doctor right away. Antibiotics will get rid of the infection quickly.