Bacterial vaginosis, the most common gynecological infection, is characterized by a foul-smelling vaginal discharge caused by an overgrowth of non-peroxide-producing bacteria. This infection is usually not sexually transmitted, but frequent intercourse may change the vaginal environment and make women more susceptible to developing this condition. Most women choose antibiotic treatment, but because this disorder has a high recurrence rate, some women seek natural remedies. Consult your doctor for more information.
Warning: Get a Proper Diagnosis
There are two reasons for visiting a doctor before treating yourself for vaginosis. The first is to confirm a diagnosis of vaginosis and not some other condition, like a sexually transmitted disease, that could impair your fertility. The second is that you must determine whether you need to take antibiotics. Left untreated, bacterial vaginosis has serious consequences that can include premature labor, abscesses and pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to blocked fallopian tubes and thus interfere with your ability to conceive.
Antibacterial Properties of Garlic
A February 1999 paper reviewing the medicinal properties of garlic and published in "Microbes and Infections" found that garlic exhibited antimicrobial properties against a wide variety of bacteria, including strains that were resistant to multiple antibiotics. This product also shows antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic actions as well. More recent research published in the January 2011 issue of the "Pakistani Journal of Pharmaceutical Science" showed that garlic extracts were effective against drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis bacteria as well.
Garlic and Vaginosis
Even though in vitro studies demonstrate that garlic has antibacterial properties, most research on its effectiveness in treating vaginosis is inconclusive. According to a May 2003 review of alternative medical treatments published in the "Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey," garlic is indeed widely used to treat vaginosis, but there is a lack of good-quality studies demonstrating its effectiveness. In the authors' opinion, more randomized, controlled clinical trials are needed before doctors can recommend this substance for the condition.
If you decide against using garlic but are still searching for a natural treatment, you may want to try probiotics. Research published in the August 2011 issue of the "Journal of Maternal-fetal & Neonatal Medicine" found that eating 100 grams of probiotic yogurt twice a day was nearly as effective as the antibiotic clindamycin. In this study, 140 patients in the probiotic group and 141 patients in the antibiotic group experienced a complete symptomatic cure.
- "Journal of Reproductive Medicine"; Advances In the Understanding of Bacterial Vaginosis; J.L. Thomason, et al.; August 1989
- "BMC Infectious Diseases"; The Epidemiology of Bacterial Vaginosis In Relation To Sexual Behavior; H. Verstraehlen, et al.; March 2010
- "Pakistani Journal of Pharmaceutical Science"; Anti-mycobacterial Activity of Garlic (Allium sativum) Against Multi-drug Resistant and Non-multi-drug Resistant Mycobacterium Tuberculosis; H. Hannan, et al.; January 2011
- "Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey"; Common Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Yeast Vaginitis and Bacterial Vaginosis: A Systematic Review; K. Van Kessel, et al.; May 2003
- "Journal of Maternal-fetal & Neonatal Medicine"; Comparative Efficacy of Probiotic Yoghurt and Clindamycin In Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis In Pregnant Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial; S. Hantoushzadeh, et al.; August 2011
- "Microbes and Infections"; Antimicrobial Properties of Allicin From Garlic; S. Ankri, et al.; 1999