What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is one of the most common vaginal infections that usually occurs among women between the age of 15-45 years. It is also known as vaginal bacteriosis. Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal infection which is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria which is naturally found in the vagina.
Good and bad, both types of bacteria are present in the vagina. Good bacteria help to control the growth of bad bacteria. In case of bacterial vaginosis, this balance is upset. In most of the cases, Bacterial vaginosis goes away on its own if left untreated, it usually increases the risk of developing a sexually transmitted infection.
Few causes of bacterial vaginosis include vaginal douching, having multiple sex partners, having a new sex partner, cigarette smoking, alcohol, poor hygiene, recent use of antibiotic, natural lack of lactobacilli bacteria, IUDs (intrauterine devices) for birth control, having a bath with antiseptic liquids etc. Few preventive tips are very helpful in bacterial vaginosis such as avoid douching, minimize vaginal irritation, practice safe sex, limit the number of sex partners, avoid smoking, avoid alcohol, keep your vagina clean and dry, maintain proper hygiene, etc.
- Vaginal itching
- Vaginal pain
- Redness in vagina
- Abnormal amount of vaginal discharge
- Thin, green, white or grey vaginal discharge
- Foul-smelling “fishy” vaginal odor
- Burning during urination
- Pain while sexual intercourse
- Vaginal odor and discharge are more noticeable after sexual intercourse
- Vaginal douching
- Having multiple sex partners
- Having new sex partner
- Cigarette smoking
- Poor hygiene
- Recent use of antibiotic
- IUDs (intrauterine devices) for birth control
- Having a bath with antiseptic liquids
- Washing underwear with strong detergents
- Natural lack of lactobacilli bacteria
Preventing Bacterial vaginosis is really easy. You just have to maintain proper hygiene and avoid few things. Here’s what you can do:
- Always wear clean and washed underwear. Use a mild soap/detergent to wash your panties. Make sure the underpants are completely dry when you are wearing them.
- Ask your sexual partner to stay clean. Also, try to reduce sexual encounters and number of partners.
- Avoid using sanitary pads for longer hours. Change your pads every 2-3 hours.
- Try to keep your vaginal cavity dry. Use a napkin to wipe off the vaginal discharges.
- Do not use scented wipes.
- Avoid using antiseptic sprays or powders.
- Avoid Douching. Douching may kill the healthy bacteria in your vaginal cavity. This can interrupt the pH balance of vaginal fluids and can cause irritation.
- Practice safe and clean sex, use condoms to prevent the infection.
- Avoid using oils and other lubricants.
- Keep the vagina clean. Always wash your hands before touching your vagina and skin around it.
Yogurt is a natural probiotic and of the most common home remedies for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. It contains lactobacillus bacteria which are very beneficial and it helps to fight the bad bacteria. It also helps to maintain healthy vaginal pH balance.
- Eat 1 cup of plain yogurt twice daily. It will help to minimize the growth of bad bacteria and also maintain vagina’s pH balance.
- You can also apply plain yogurt on the affected area with the help of cotton pad. Leave it for few minutes and rinse it off with normal water. Repeat it twice or thrice daily for few days for better results.
Garlic has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is a natural antibiotic and is a very effective home remedy for bacterial vaginosis.
- Mash 3-4 garlic cloves and apply the paste to the affected area. Leave it there for few minutes and rinse it off with lukewarm water. Use it once daily for few days.
- Another option is to put a garlic clove in the vagina and remove it after few minutes. Repeat it once daily for few days.
- You can also eat garlic daily either raw or cooked.
Milk is rich in lactobacilli bacteria. It is best natural remedy to cure bacterial vaginosis. Milk also helps to restore flora of the vagina. It also helps to strengthen the immune system.
- Mix 1 tsp of turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk. Drink it daily for few days to reduce the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
- Another way is to dip a tampon in chilled milk and insert it into the vagina. Leave it there for 1-2 hours. Do this once daily for few days.
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has antifungal, antibiotic and antiviral properties. It has hundreds of health benefits and treating bacterial vaginosis is one of them.
- Apply coconut oil directly to the affected area. Do this twice or thrice daily to improve the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
- Another option is to dip a tampon in organic coconut oil and insert it into the vagina. Leave it there for few hours. Then rinse the area with lukewarm water thoroughly. Do this once daily for few days.
- You can also use coconut oil for cooking, it will help to boost your immune system.
Treatment of BV depends on its causes and in most of the cases it clears up on its own without any treatment. Its symptoms include vaginal itching, vaginal pain, an abnormal amount of vaginal discharge, foul-smelling “fishy” vaginal odor, burning during urination, pain while sexual intercourse, etc. But in few cases, it doesn’t show any symptoms and can appear and disappear on its own. But if any of the symptoms appear for a long time, consult your doctor immediately.
Certain medications available for the treatment of Bacterial vaginosis include:
Metronidazole: It is the most common antibiotic medicine prescribed for the treatment of Bacterial vaginosis. This medicine can be taken orally by mouth as tablets or it is also available as a topical gel that you have to insert into your vagina. Tablets are more effective treatment and should be taken twice daily for seven days or as prescribed by your doctor. During the treatment avoid sexual intercourse and stop drinking alcohol as well.
Clindamycin (Clindesse, Cleocin, others): It is available as a cream that you should insert into your vagina. It is usually used as an alternative antibiotic when metronidazole doesn’t work or if bacterial vaginosis reoccur. During the treatment use of latex condoms, caps, etc may be less effective.
Tinidazole (Tindamax): This antibiotic medicine should be taken orally and is very effective in treating bacterial vaginosis. It is usually used when metronidazole doesn’t work or if bacterial vaginosis reoccur. Avoid alcohol during the treatment.
Take your medicines/creams as prescribed by your doctor and follow the packaged instructions. Never start or stop any medicine as it may worsen the symptoms.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common infection. You can get the infection from various sources. However, you can also prevent BV by following simple preventive measures. Furthermore, using the home remedies listed above will reduce the symptoms and irritations caused by BV. Also, you can consult a gynecologist and follow the medication as advised.
Is bacterial vaginosis contagious?
Yes, since it is caused by bacteria, it is contagious. Avoid sharing your clothes with others and practice safe sex to prevent the transmission of bacteria.
Can this bacteria affect men as well?
Yes, the bacteria can affect your male sexual partners as well. Men might feel itching and irritation.