According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in women aged 15 to 44, bacterial vaginosis, or BV, is the most common vaginal infection. BV occurs when the natural flora or good bacteria, mostly lactobacilli, are replaced by large numbers of bad bacteria. Harvard Health Publishing suggests that BV is the most common cause of abnormal vaginal odor and discharge. When vaginal pH becomes too alkaline — above 4.5 — it creates a favorable environment for the overgrowth of bad bacteria. This proliferation causes an infection that could potentially lead to complications in the uterus and fallopian tubes. Although bacterial vaginosis is typically treated with antibiotics, diet changes can also help manage bacterial overgrowth in your vagina.
Limiting sugar intake can help prevent bacterial vaginosis.
Causes of BV
Causative factors for bacterial vaginosis include a new sex partner or multiple sex partners, douching, using intrauterine contraceptive devices, taking broad-spectrum antibiotics and not using condoms, as sperm alkalinize the vagina. According to Body Ecology, rinsing your vagina in a hot bath mixed with 1 to 2 cups of apple cider vinegar after intercourse can help prevent vaginal infections.
Food and Bacterial Overgrowth
Certain foods can promote bacterial overgrowth by creating a more favorable environment within the body where the bacteria can thrive and multiply. Sugar and foods that either contain sugar or turn to sugar in the body are the biggest culprits and the most important food items to avoid. Sugar promotes inflammation and acts as food for the bad bacteria. Foods that dehydrate the body, saturated fats and refined flour products are also foods to avoid with bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial Vaginosis Diet
Whether you currently have BV or want to avoid an infection, there are specific foods to avoid to help keep a healthy ecosystem of flora throughout the body. These foods include alcohol; coffee; fast foods; saturated fats; foods that contain molds, such as peanuts; citrus fruits; fruits with a high glycemic index, such as bananas; fermented foods; processed foods; breads and pasta made with refined white flour; and anything high in carbohydrates.
Avoid Food Allergens
Food allergens should also be avoided. The top allergenic foods include dairy products, such as milk and cheese; wheat and gluten; eggs; corn; soy; and nuts, including peanuts due to their mold content. Although yogurt contains lactobacilli, it may be best to avoid eating it because of the dairy content and instead use a probiotic supplement formulated with lactobacilli.
Other BV Considerations
In addition to eating a diet rich in whole foods and avoiding sugars, refined carbohydrates and food allergens, it's also important to drink adequate amounts of filtered water every day as part of your bacterial vaginosis diet. The rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily, according to Indiana University's Health Center. Your doctor can best advise you about which foods to avoid and which ones to eat and can work with you to develop a treatment plan that's best for you.
- Body Ecology: Bacterial Vaginosis: What It Is, How to Recognize It and How to Overcome It and Avoid It for Good
- Harvard Health Publishing: Bacterial Vaginosis (Gardnerella Vaginitis): What Is It?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Statistics
- Indiana University Health Center: Drink Healthy Beverages