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 anti-fungal use that disrupts the good vaginal flora and allows bad bacteria to overgrow.
What are the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
The symptoms of BV may include:
- Vaginal irritation
- Foul smelling discharge, usually thin and greyish white
- Unusual vaginal odor, sometimes described as a fishy odor
How is BV diagnosed?
Medical doctors can collect a vaginal swab. They send it to a lab to be cultured to determine what types of bacteria are growing in your 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 bad bacteria. While this works initially, the problem with this approach is that it does not restore the proper environment in the vagina. Different unwanted bacteria may then overgrow and cause similar symptoms. More than half of those treated this way experience a recurrence within 12 months.
Natural Remedies for BV
The natural treatment for BV tends to offer a more permanent solution to the problem because it addresses the underlying cause. It restores a healthy environment in the vagina.
- Clean unwanted bacteria or yeast out of the vagina.
- Restore good bacteria that help to keep the tissue healthy and prevent bad bacteria from growing.
- Remove sources of vaginal irritation that make the tissue more sticky and susceptible to infection. This may include food allergies, tampons, and latex allergies (condoms) among other things.
- Address any vitamin deficiencies that make the vaginal tissue or immune system unhealthy such as a vitamin A or C 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 Remedies Research
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 probiotic administration. Source: Benef Microbes. 2012 Jun 1;3(2):151-5.
Probiotics & Vaginal Health
Women with intermediate vaginal bacteria were given Lactobacillus fermentum 57A, Lactobacillus plantarum 57B, and Lactobacillus gasseri 57C. Results showed that the vaginal environment was normalized within 28-60 days. Source: Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2012 Jun 19
Studies have shown that Lactobacillus strains can disrupt BV and yeast biofilms and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. 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 that they work.
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 estrogen 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.