Among the health conditions that are specific to women is a type of infection known as bacterial vaginosis. In this article, we take an honest look at what this infection is, how it is usually addressed, and some herbs and supplements that can be effective in treating it.
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria. Specifically, it occurs when one of the bacteria that are typically present in the vagina grows to an abnormal amount. This overgrowth can cause an imbalance of bacteria, and lead to the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. BV occurs in women of reproductive age.
Many women with BV do not experience symptoms, however. However, some do. The most common symptom of BV is a white or gray discharge, along with a noticeably unpleasant smell. Sometimes, itching or irritation might occur during urination.
Douching, vaginal deodorants, and other products can lead to BV, as can sex with a new partner. In about one-third of cases, bacterial vaginosis comes and then leaves without medical treatment. However, if you experience symptoms, it is recommended that you seek medical treatment.
Addressing Bacterial Vaginosis
When medical treatment for BV is necessary, a doctor will likely do so by prescribing an antibiotic. Metronidazole and clindamycin are the most common, and they usually cure the infection. However, other measures are sometimes also necessary. It is important to avoid sex until the infection is gone. Avoiding douching and other irritants is also important.
Herbs and Supplements for Bacterial Vaginosis
If you are looking to prevent BV (or a recurrence thereof, which does happen), certain herbs and supplements can help. Additionally, some products can help diminish the symptoms of BV until the infection leaves. We take a look at both of these in the following list. We recommend talking to your medical care provider before using any of these remedies for the first time.
Turmeric could be of use in preventing BV due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has the potential to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria. Turmeric can be added to foods, or taken in sufficient amounts via an oral supplement.
Garlic can be helpful in preventing BV because of its usefulness in combating bacteria. One study shows that taking an oral garlic supplement is specifically helpful in preventing bacterial vaginosis.
Vitamin C, among many other substances, might help prevent a recurrence of BV. One 2013 study showed that those who had previously had BV, and decided to regularly take 250mg of vitamin C, had half the chance of a recurrence of BV.
Probiotics have the potential to both treat and prevent BV. A probiotic supplement will introduce healthy bacteria into the body. This can be especially helpful if you have taken an antibiotic for BV, since antibiotics can decrease the amount of good bacteria present in the body.
Eucalyptus oil, as well as some other common essential oils, can be helpful in fighting off excess bacteria when applied directly to the vagina. This essential oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Goldenseal is a perennial herb that can be useful in treating bacterial vaginosis. Goldenseal can bolster your body’s immunity, helping to combat the bacterial vaginal infection.
Remedying bacterial vaginosis can often mean seeing a doctor and taking an antibiotic, but sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, you might seek to remedy this infection while it is occurring, and of course seek to prevent it from happening again. Talk to your doctor if any of the above products sound like they might work for you.