Bacterial vaginosis is an infection caused by an unhealthy ratio of good to bad bacteria in the vaginal flora. Symptoms vary with bacterial vaginosis, but some of the indications may include white or gray discharge, odor, cramps and itching and irritation. Remedies consist of using prescription and homemade resources, but the following remedies are self-administered in the comfort of the home and do not require a prescription.
Povidone-iodine, sold as Betadine in retail pharmacies, can relieve symptoms of bacterial vaginosis and even cure some of the most resistant cases, including recurrent episodes. Several studies show that povidone iodine is a useful remedy for treating bacterial infections. One study, conducted at the Kiang Wu Hospital, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Macau, treated participants with symptoms of bacterial vaginosis to a seven-day course of povidone-iodine solution. Results showed that povidone-iodine solution cured 73.3 percent, while the remaining 16.7 percent had significant improvement in symptoms.
Make a povidone-iodine solution and use twice a day for at least one week. Combine ½ tsp. of povidone-iodine with one cup of water. Use the douche solution twice a day for up to two weeks for persistent, recurrent infections.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is good bacteria and a welcomed inhabitant of the vaginal flora. The good bacteria feed on the bad bacteria to keep the body from getting infections. Supplements containing Lactobacillus, particularly the L. acidophilus species, can restore the healthy balance of bacteria in the flora. The University of Maryland Medical School (UMMS) recommends taking an oral supplement containing at least 1 to 2 billion live cultures each day for up to two weeks, or inserting the supplement directly into the vaginal cavity. For internal applications, use a sanitary napkin for added protection during the course of treatment.
The Mayo Clinic recommends using liquid L. acidophilus preparations on the vulva to relieve symptoms of itching and irritation on the external regions. When conditions improve, switch to lower-dose supplements that contain at least 10 million live cultures. Continue using liquid L. acidophilus as needed to relieve occasional discomfort.
Certain foods can treat and prevent bacterial vaginosis. Foods that contain good bacteria, also called probiotic foods, can remedy current infections and maintain a healthy ratio of good to bad bacteria in the body to prevent recurrent infections. Some of the food sources containing live cultures include garlic, bananas, yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, wine, cheese, bread and chocolate. However, some foods, such as chocolate, may contain a high content of sugar. Since unwelcomed bacteria thrive on sugar, choose low-sugar or sugar-free options to reap the full benefits of eating probiotic foods.
Eat 8 oz. of plain yogurt a day until symptoms improve. Choose yogurt that has live cultures or is labeled pasteurized. Include fermented foods and beverages in your regular diet to prevent infections.
Regular use of douches can disrupt the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina. An occasional douche, particularly in cases of bacterial infections, cleanses the vaginal cavity and removes excess discharge. For recurrent episodes of bacterial vaginosis, a douche may only offer temporary relief of symptoms. For a homemade douche, combine 1 tbsp. baking soda or 2 tbsp. distilled vinegar with one cup of room-temperature water.
Vinegar baths provide relief for many women. The benefits of a vinegar bath include mild cleansing and irritation relief. To prepare a vinegar bath, mix one cup of vinegar into lukewarm bathwater and soak for up to 20 minutes. Take the vinegar bath as needed, but no more than twice a day as baths can cause dry skin.
For a natural remedy in the form of a suppository, dip a tampon in unsweetened, plain yogurt and insert into the vaginal cavity. Replace three times a day. Alternatively, use one-fourth of a garlic clove as a suppository. Consider using the suppositories for overnight treatment or use during the day with a sanitary napkin.