Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
What is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?
Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria (Gardnerella vaginalis) in the vagina causing vaginal irritation.
What causes BV?
It is often the result of either antibiotic or antifungal use that disrupts the beneficial vaginal flora and allows Gardnerella overgrowth.
What are the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
1. Vaginal irritation
2. Foul smelling discharge, usually thin and greyish white, but not necessarily
3. Unusual vaginal odor, sometimes described as a fishy odor
How is BV diagnosed?
Medical doctors can collect a vaginal swab and send it to a lab to be cultured to determine what types of bacteria are growing in the vagina. Often the organism that is causing BV is called Gardnerella vaginalis.
How do you treat BV?
Medical doctors would prescribe antibiotics to kill the offending organism. The problem with this approach is that it does not restore the proper environment in the vagina and a different unwanted organism may then overgrow and cause similar symptoms. More than half of those treated this way experience a recurrence within 12 months.
Natural Treatment of BV
This approach tends to offer a more permanent resolution of the problem because it addresses the underlying cause and restores a healthy environment in the vagina.
- Clean unwanted bacteria or yeast out of the vagina.
- Restore good bacteria that help keep the tissue healthy and prevent harmful invaders from growing.
- Remove sources of vaginal irritation that makes the tissue more sticky and susceptible to infection such as food allergies, tampons, latex allergies (condoms).
- Address any vitamin deficiencies that may be making the vaginal tissue or immune system unhealthy such as a vitamin A or C deficiency or zinc deficiency.
- Ensure healthy functioning of the immune system to ward off any kind of infection.
- Balance your hormones. The environment in your vagina and the health of the vaginal tissue is dependent on hormone balance.
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Bacterial Vaginosis & Natural Treatment Research
Probiotics & Bacterial Vaginosis
Supplementation with probiotics may help reduce the risk of vaginal infections. Source: Benef Microbes; 2012 Mar 20:1-5.
Reduction in the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis was seen after 7 days of UB-01BV probiotic administration. Source: Benef Microbes. 2012 Jun 1;3(2):151-5.
Probiotics & Vaginal Health
Women with intermediate vaginal flora were given Lactobacillus fermentum 57A, Lactobacillus plantarum 57B, and Lactobacillus gasseri 57C. Results showed that vaginal parameters were normalized within 28-60 days. Source: Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2012 Jun 19
In vitro studies have shown that Lactobacillus strains can disrupt BV and yeast biofilms and inhibit the growth of urogenital pathogens. The use of probiotics to populate the vagina and prevent or treat infection has been considered for some time, but only quite recently have data emerged to show efficacy, including supplementation of antimicrobial treatment to improve cure rates and prevent recurrences.
Source: Interdiscip Perspect Infect Dis. 2008; 2008: 256490.
Published online 2009 Mar 29. doi: [10.1155/2008/256490]
Vaginal Microbiota and the Use of Probiotics
Sarah Cribby, 1, 2 Michelle Taylor, 1, 2 and Gregor Reid
All items conclude that the use of probiotics is beneficial in cases of BV in addition to conventional treatments.
Semergen. 2017 Jul – Aug;43(5):394-398. doi: 10.1016/j.semerg.2016.09.002. Epub 2016 Nov 14.
[Use of probiotics in bacterial vaginosis].
Mur Pérez AM1, Mateo Segura Z2, Ramírez Domínguez N2, Vela Condón P2.
Hormones and BV
This study supports a possible hormonal influence in the natural history of BV. The lower estradiol levels in smokers may help explain their increased risk of BV.
Int J STD AIDS. 2007 May;18(5):308-11.
Bacterial vaginal flora in relation to changing estrogen levels.
Wilson JD1, Lee RA, Balen AH, Rutherford AJ.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided here may not apply precisely to your individual situation. Diagnostic and therapeutic choices must always be tailored to the individual patient’s circumstances, and consultation with a licensed naturopathic physician should be undertaken before following any of the treatment strategies suggested in this web site.