Bacterial vaginosis describes a type of vaginitis that produces a redness or swelling of the vagina often accompanied by discomfort, vaginal discharge and itching. A healthy vagina contains several different types of bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, results when normally occurring bacteria proliferate. BV may cause a fishy smell, especially after sex. Antibiotics are typically prescribed for BV, but dietary changes may also be necessary in order to prevent it from becoming a chronic condition.
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Bacterial vaginosis stems from an imbalance in the vaginal ecosystem. Eating foods that contain lactobacilli may bring the vaginal ecosystem back to a healthy and balanced state. In “The Health Professional’s Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements,” authors Shawn M. Talbott and Kerry Hughes note that lactobacillus acidophilus, or LA, is a healthy bacteria; the consumption of foods with LA has been linked to lower rates of BV. Yogurt, kefir and acidophilus milk are all potential sources of LA.
Garlic contains natural antibiotic properties and for this reason is recommended to anyone who is prone to bacterial vaginosis. Jean Carper, author of “Food Your Miracle Medicine: Preventing and Curing Common Health Problems the Natural Way” maintains that garlic is effective on a wide range of bacteria. Garlic is recommended as a vaginal suppository and is also effective when eaten.
Foods to Avoid
In “The Gynecological Sourcebook,” M. Sara Rosenthal, Ph.D., explains that diet can play an important role in the management of bacterial vaginosis. Rosenthal emphasizes avoiding sugar. The authors of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” say consuming sugar can lead to a vaginal environment that encourages the growth of bacteria. It is also advisable to avoid caffeine, alcohol, foods that include mold, fermented foods, processed foods and those high in carbohydrate.
Foods to Favor
A healthy diet leads to a stronger immune system and decreases the likelihood of contracting bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial-Vaginosis.com maintains that a diet high in flaxseed products, whole grains fresh organic produce, fish, meat and poultry, and an abundance of water benefits any woman hoping to avoid a recurrence of bacterial vaginosis.
Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, author of “Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and Food Supplements” recommends echinacea for bacterial vaginosis, as does Bacterial-Vaginosis.com and The University of Michigan Health System’s Alternative Medicine Database. Echinacea can be made into a tea or a tincture. Bacterial-Vaginosis.com and Balch also recommend pau d’arco, which may also be made into a tea.
- “The American Medical Association Complete Guide to Prevention and Wellness: What You Need to Know about Preventing Illness, Staying Healthy, and Living Longer”; 2008; American Medical Association
- “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Sourcebook”; Laura Larsen, editor; 2009
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Bacterial Vaginosis
- “The Gynecological Sourcebook”; M. Sara Rosenthal, Ph.D.; 2003
- “S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College”; Heather Corinna; 2007
- “Guide to Getting it On” ; Paul Joannides; 2009