Like unwanted advances and too-tight shoes bought on sale, some women will find themselves, at some point in their lives, suffering the discomfort of bacterial vaginosis.
Also known as gardnerella vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis is a sometimes stubborn condition caused by an overgrowth and imbalance in the vagina’s natural bacterial flora. It’s not bad bacteria, just too much of some and not enough of others.
The main symptoms are a thin grey or white discharge with a strong ‘fishy’ odour, itching, and, for some women, a burning feeling when urinating. Its unknown what causes bacterial vaginosis however many women report worsened symptoms after sex.
The standard clinical treatment for bacterial vaginosis is a course of antibiotics, however according to one study, up to 80% of women experience a recurrence of symptoms. What’s the treatment when symptoms return? Another course of antibiotics – hardly ideal. However there are other treatments that don’t involve antibiotics and could be just as effective, for example;
Try natural yoghurt
In a small study 86% of pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis reported their symptoms had completely cleared 6 weeks after being treated with natural yoghurt. The treatment involved vaginal douching with yoghurt in a syringe for seven days and was repeated after one week. At home you can try adding natural yoghurt to your daily diet. Many women also report success from applying yoghurt to a sanitary pad every day for a week or more.
Boric acid suppositories
Before antibiotics, boric acid suppositories were what most doctors used to treat bacterial vaginosis and, no surprise, it still works. The suppository is inserted into the vagina at night for 7-14 days and works by increasing acidity in the vagina and restoring a more normal pH level. A reputable compounding pharmacy like National Custom Compounding can make up boric acid suppositories if provided with a script from your doctor.
It seems like every day there’s a new study released that adds to the weight of evidence for the role of well-balanced gut bacteria in overall health. Getting the balance right in the gut has a flow-on effect to the rest of the body and may potentially address the imbalance in vaginal flora. Make sure you take a high quality probiotic from a health food store – many supermarket varieties are of poor quality and may not prove effective.
Tea tree oil
Several laboratory studies have found that the antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil is very effective at combatting lactobacilli and other bacteria commonly associated in high levels with bacterial vaginosis. No large scale studies have been conducted using real humans as subjects so the jury is still out in this one.