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Analysing 12 Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment Issues Every Woman Should Know

July 3, 2024

What treatments for Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) are effective, and which should you use?

In this post, let’s explore some BV treatments and facts about them.

Vaginal test strip against the background of a deep red underwear demonstrating tools associated with bacterial vaginosis treatments

BV is a non-sexually transmitted infection that we think is caused by a disturbance of the normal vaginal flora or germs that usually live in the vagina.

It is a lot more common than we think; studies suggest that 9 out of 100 women have BV at any specific time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BV is the most common vaginal infection in women between the ages of 15 and 44.

Features of Bacterial Vaginosis

BV causes a heavy and often fishy-smelling discharge.

It’s usually not itchy, sore or painful. However, some may experience burning or pain when peeing.

The germ-causing BV is an anaerobic bacterium. (Gardnerella vaginalis) . Overgrowth of this germ reduces the levels of the normal vaginal protective germs known as lactobacilli.

This makes the vagina less acidic (the ph>4.5) and prone to infections like Thrush (Candida) and BV.

Here are some treatment facts about BV

Guide to Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment

One. How to treat bacterial vaginosis.

Often, BV is treated with antibiotics like Metronidazole or Clindamycin.

You can take these drugs by mouth or vaginally. These antibiotics can provide 70-80% of cure after four weeks, but recurrence is common within 12 months after treatment.

Two. BV can resolve spontaneously if left untreated.

Waiting for this to happen, of course, is physically distressing, given the excessive, offensive discharge. 

Not everyone with BV develops symptoms – in 50% of cases, BV is asymptomatic.

Three. If you have BV, you are at an increased risk of getting an STI.

If present when you are pregnant, several serious complications can follow BV, including:

  • Late miscarriage,
  • Pre-term labour,
  • Pre-term birth,
  • Pre-term premature rupture of membranes,
  • Low birth weight and postpartum endometritis.

BV also makes it more likely to develop an infection after a gynaecological procedure, such as a cervical smear.

Four. If you have no symptoms and are NOT pregnant, you do not require treatment.

Five. BV can return following complete treatment.

Often, this is because certain factors encourage the overgrowth of the germ. These are:

  • Being sexually active
    • BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but being sexually active or having another STI at the same time increases the risk of developing BV and
  • Using douches, deodorant, and vaginal washes.
  • Factors where the vaginal ph is likely to be less acidic such as during menstruation or after sex (semen).
  • In addition, having the Copper coil and smoking make BV more likely.

Six. To reduce the risk of developing BV, hormonal contraception, regular condom use and sex with a circumcised partner can help.

If you experience recurrent BV, it’s important to consider whether these factors may be increasing your risk of getting it again.

Over the Counter Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis

Seven. Are probiotics good for bacterial vaginosis?

The effect of probiotic therapy on bacterial vaginosis is controversial.

However, an analysis of multiple studies showed that using probiotics is safe, and there may be short- and long-term benefits to treating BV.

Eight. How to use hydrogen peroxide for bacterial vaginosis? (is a common question asked by people who aren’t keen on antibiotics).

But is that a good idea? Well, apparently not, according to a 2003 Thai study.

They compared the use of peroxide to Metronidazole.

The study showed the cure rate was lower for the women using peroxide than those on metronidazole – but those who took the antibiotics had more side effects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Nine. How does oregano oil treat bacterial vaginosis?

A comprehensive study on Oregano oil by the St Patrick Institute of Medical Sciences confirms much of what we know about its medical benefits.

Carvacrol is a potent phenol that gives the strong antimicrobial effect many associate with Oregano oil.

No specific studies compare Oregano oil’s effect to the antibiotics for BV.

However, in a 2018 US study, Oregano oil showed significant anti-bacterial activity against 11 germ types that have shown resistance to more than one antibiotic, such as Pseudomonas and Staph. aureus.

So, there may be some benefit for people who have not found lasting effects with regular antibiotics.

Please speak to a regulated herbal practitioner about how to use products like this.

It’s also important to remember that, like many other oils, you should not apply them directly to the sensitive vulva/ vagina areas. They often need a combination with a diluent or carrier oil first.

Ten. Boric acid and Bacterial Vaginosis?

Boric acid is a homoeopathic preparation containing small amounts of boric acid and other elements, including probiotics and antioxidants, vitamins C and E.

Boric acid is weak compared to stronger acids like hydrochloric acid. It is thought to have antifungal and mild antiseptic properties.

It also works by replenishing normal vaginal acidity and balancing vaginal flora or lactobacilli (helpful germs).

As a result, people feel it would be helpful in some vaginal conditions.

Boric acid is sometimes used to treat recurrent yeast infections (vaginal thrush).

It may also treat bacterial vaginosis, although antibiotics are the primary treatment.

Boric acid alone is not an effective treatment for BV, especially if it is recurrent.

However, in combination with some antibiotics, vaginal boric acid may help treat recurrent BV.

It may also be used as a vaginal cleanser to eliminate vaginal odour.

The problem is that frequent use may lead to over-stripping the vagina of its natural flora/germs, affecting its acidity and making the user more susceptible to infections.

Is BV Gender Specific?

Eleven. How do men get rid of bacterial vaginosis infections?

What’s the male partner’s role in transmitting BV?

The penis doesn’t have the same bacterial makeup/flora as the vagina, so men cannot contract get BV infection.

BV is not sexually transmitted, but studies have shown that men who are not circumcised may carry BV germs around their penis, which they may pick up and pass to their sexual partners.

So men can’t get BV, but they can carry BV-causing bacteria on their penis or inside the urethra after penetrative vaginal intercourse.

If a man develops symptoms like discharge or burning when peeing, we should check it’s not another cause like an STI or a UTI.

Men whose partners have BV often do not require treatment. Two female partners, however, can transmit the BV between each other, so both should be treated if they develop symptoms.

Can You Get BV from the Toilet?

Twelve. Can Bidets ‘Cause’ Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bidets are also known as warm-water cleaning toilets.

They were quite a popular household item in some parts of the world, like Japan, but they appear to be slowly gaining interest again in places like the US.

A modern bidet sprays water to clean your privates after using the toilet.

Some have heated water, deodorants or air dryers for ease and comfort of use.

You will wipe your anus clean with toilet paper before using the bidet to wash and the dry area afterwards.

It sounds sanitary, so what could the problem be?

The main concern is the potential accumulation of germs around the spray nozzle.

They could potentially transfer in the spray you apply towards your genitals.

A Japanese study found that most of the over 250 bidets they analysed in a university hospital were colonised with germs like Staph and Strep bugs.

The next problem is that using these bidets regularly may wash off the protective lactobacilli of the vagina, thus reducing the protection of the vagina and increasing the risk of infection.

Avoiding using a bidet is probably a good idea if you’re pregnant.  

Are you concerned about these or any other BV treatments? Please share in the comments section below.

More Reading


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner. To discuss your condition, don’t hesitate to contact a health practitioner or reach us directly.

This blog post may contain marketing links to third-party sites with which  Askawayhealth is not affiliated. We do not endorse or guarantee the products or services offered on these sites. 

Please exercise discretion when making purchases or using services from these third-party sites. Askawayhealth is not responsible for any outcomes resulting from such actions.

Image Credits: Canva

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