Home remedies for bacterial vaginosis

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Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection. How can women treat this disease at home?

Up to 1 in 4 women in the United States have bacterial vaginosis (BV). Many have no symptoms and some confuse them with another infection, such as candidiasis .

The most common symptom of BV is a strong fish-like smell that comes from the vagina. Some women also experience itching, burning or an unusual grayish flow.

Antibiotics can treat most cases of BV. Some women prefer to try home remedies first, while in other cases BV continues to appear after having received antibiotic treatments several times.

This article explores some home remedies for bacterial vaginosis. These can help:

  • Fight the BV
  • Reduce its severity
  • Stop his return

1. When is it necessary to consult a doctor?

The vagina is home to a complex colony of organisms that maintain vaginal health and its chemical pH. When vaginal pH or bacteria change, the vagina is more vulnerable to infections, even BV.

A BV infection suggests that something has altered the balance of vaginal chemistry. It is necessary to address this underlying cause to treat it and reduce the risk of its return.

BV rarely causes serious symptoms, so most women who want to try home remedies for bacterial vaginosis can do so safely. In some cases, however, the symptoms of BV need immediate medical treatment.

Women who suspect they have BV should consult a doctor if:

  • They are pregnant: BV is related to premature birth, spontaneous abortion, low birth weight and other pregnancy complications. Proper treatment can reduce the risk. In addition, some home remedies for BV, such as the use of essential oils, may not be safe for pregnant women.
  • They experience other symptoms: A burning sensation when urinating, severe pain, blood secretion or similar symptoms seem to indicate something other than BV.
  • They have a fever: This also points to another infection.
  • They experience intense burning or itching.
  • Home remedies have failed: Some other infections can mimic BV. Without treatment, these infections can get worse.
  • They are not sure if the problem is BV: Women with a history of recurrent fungal infections, for example, should consult a doctor before starting treatment at home. Currently, some companies sell over-the-counter vaginal tests, which may be an option for women who are unsure of the cause of their symptoms.

In most cases, a doctor can easily diagnose BV. A short course of antibiotics should eliminate the infection. These antibiotics rarely produce significant side effects.

2. Sex can cause bacterial vaginosis

BV can spread between sexual partners. Therefore, a woman who thinks she has BV should refrain from having sex, or practicing them more safely with a condom, until the infection disappears.

Sexual practices that alter the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina can also trigger an outbreak of BV. The following strategies may decrease the risk of contracting BV:

  • Never go from anal to vaginal sex: This can transfer fecal material to the vagina, and cause BV. Change condoms after changing from anal to vaginal sex, and never place anything in the vagina that has been in the anus without washing with soap and warm water.
  • Use a condom during sex: When semen mixes with vaginal fluids, it can make the smell of a BV infection worse.
  • Urinate immediately after intercourse: After urinating, rinse the vagina and vulva with clean water. In some women, sexual fluids and lubricants change the delicate pH balance of the vagina, which makes them more vulnerable to a BV infection.

3. Safe hygiene practices

Bacterial vaginosis can cause an unpleasant smell, which is why many women mistakenly believe it is due to poor hygiene, which is a myth.

The vagina is an organ capable of cleaning itself, so it does not require showers, soaps or perfumes. In fact, the use of these products can alter vaginal pH. This increases vulnerability to BV and can produce a bad smell.

To reduce the risk and avoid exacerbating an existing infection:

  • Avoid using scented products in the vagina, including scented tampons or soaps.
  • Do not douche, as this alters vaginal chemistry and can use scented products that can cause irritation.
  • Wash the vagina only with water and never insert soap into it. Generally, it is safe to wash the vulva with unscented soap.
  • Wear cotton underwear and breathable.
  • Clean from front to back, as this will prevent stool from passing into the vagina. Never use objects that have been in the anus, such as sex toys, in the vagina.
  • Keep the vaginal area dry. Avoid keeping wet bathing clothes or underwear, and gently dry the vagina after bathing.
  • Wash your hands before touching the vagina, especially if you are inserting objects, such as tampons or menstrual cups.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics help the body develop beneficial bacteria. These can fight unhealthy bacteria and fungi, such as candidiasis .

Natural probiotics can help the bacterial colony that keeps the vagina healthy. These include:

  • Yogurt
  • Fermented meals
  • Some homemade cheeses

A probiotic supplement can also help.

Women experiencing pain associated with BV may try to cool probiotic tampons.

To do this, women can try freezing natural yogurt without flavor in a tampon applicator and then insert it into the vagina. The cooling sensation temporarily relieves pain and the probiotic can fight the underlying infection.

5. Alternative remedies

Increasingly, researchers take seriously the power of folk medicine to fight BV. You may want to consider one of the following strategies:

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can help balance vaginal pH. Wash the vulva with a solution of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per 1 cup of water twice a day to relieve symptoms.

Honey, which has natural antimicrobial properties, can increase the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar. It is available in different forms, even as a supplement.


Some research suggests that garlic is a natural antibacterial. Adding it to the diet or taking a garlic supplement can reduce the risk of BV.

However, it is important that you only eat . People should not insert garlic into the vagina, as it will burn sensitive skin.

Eating garlic can reduce the risk of BV, because it can act as a natural antibacterial.

Boric acid

Research suggests that boric acid can fight BV, particularly in women who have recurrent infections.

In a 2009 investigation, researchers complemented the 600 mg antibiotic treatment and boric acid inserted directly into the vagina. Women who used boric acid had higher cure rates than those who did not. The study warns, however, that more research is needed to validate this as a home remedy for BV.

Before considering the purchase of boric acid suppositories, consult a doctor.

Pregnant women should not use home remedies.

Tea tree oil

A limited set of research suggests that the application of tea tree oil could treat the symptoms of BV. It can also help some other infections, such as candidiasis .

People may be allergic to tea tree oil. To try it, rub a little on the forearm. If there is no reaction in 24-48 hours, it can be useful. However, the oil can burn. Importantly, people should remember that it is not safe for pregnant women. Women who are considering buying tea tree oil treatments should first consult a doctor.

Translated by Brenda Carreras

Reviewed by Carmen María González Morales

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT 

Written by Zawn Villines

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.