Bacteria play an essential role in maintaining the health of the vaginal area. Ideally, bacterial activity is naturally carried at beneficial levels. However, adverse health events or environmental factors can allow an overgrowth of bacteria to develop or harmful bacteria to thrive in this sensitive area leading to discomfort, discharge, and odor. This bacterial imbalance is commonly referred to as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition in women’s health. It can be quickly resolved with timely over-the-counter BV treatment, though more severe or persistent cases may require treatment with antibiotics or other prescription medications.
This article highlights the most common treatment options proven to quickly and effectively resolve the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
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Bacterial Vaginosis: Symptoms
Unlike the common yeast infection, BV infection can be present for some time with no outward symptoms. However, most patients with BV report abnormal vaginal discharge and odor as the most common infection symptom.
With similar symptoms to yeast infections, BV generally produces a watery, foamy, white, or gray discharge with a strong odor that many describe as “fishy.” The vaginal discharge and resulting odor are often persistent despite diligent hygiene efforts and may be markedly worse immediately following intercourse or after a menstruation cycle.
Physical discomforts, such as itching or irritation, may occur in untreated infections. It is important to note while BV can occur with or without sexual activity, women with this infection have a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases through sexual activity. These increased risk factors make BV a serious sexual health concern for sexually active women.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Prevention Tips
Prevention is worth a pound of cure. While there is no surefire method to eliminate the risk of bacterial vaginosis, certain habits may decrease the likelihood of contracting this infection.
First, it should be noted that while BV is technically classified as a sexually transmitted infection, many BV infections do not result from sexual activity.
Chronic or prolonged irritation of the delicate vaginal tissue can allow bacteria to access the area and thrive.
Consider regular daily showers rather than soaking in a bathtub to get clean. If bathing is the only option, use plain soap and water instead of bath oils, gels, body washes, and bubble bath products.
Use a mild, plain soap to clean the vaginal area, and reserve the scented bath products and soaps for the rest of your body.
Contrary to outdated healthcare teachings, douches are no longer considered a safe or effective means of cleansing the vaginal area.
Douching introduces bacteria into the vaginal canal, disrupts the body’s natural pH balance, and can lead to irritation and infection.
Wear breathable clothing, and switch to cotton undergarments to maximize airflow and help keep the vaginal area clean and dry.
Undergarments should be washed in a mild detergent formulated for sensitive skin to reduce the risk of irritation.
Finally, consume a well-balanced diet to help keep your immune system healthy, and consider taking a probiotic supplement to help build up the body’s balance of good bacteria.
The body’s immune system and the beneficial bacteria that live in the human body naturally help reduce the harmful bacteria that can thrive in the region.
A healthy diet will also help to maintain the ideal pH balance in your body, making the body a hostile environment for harmful bacteria.
The Best BV Treatments
There are several options available for BV treatment. In most cases, a doctor will prescribe antibiotic treatment to destroy the bacteria that are the root cause of the infection. Metronidazole, Tinidazole, Secnidazole, and Clindamycin are the most common antibiotic choices, and your doctor will most likely prescribe a 7 – 14 day regime of one of these antibiotics.
In some cases, over-the-counter treatments may be used either as a stand-alone option or in conjunction with antibiotic treatment to help to provide the speediest relief of symptoms.
For example, probiotics are often used alongside antibiotics to help restore beneficial bacteria, restore the body’s natural balance, and alleviate many adverse side effects associated with antibiotic use.
Garlic is often used as a natural home remedy. Garlic possesses strong antibacterial properties and can be taken orally to resolve mild to moderate BV infections.
Finally, Boric Acid vaginal suppositories may eliminate bacteria at the source. These supplements offer a viable solution for those who prefer to avoid taking an oral antibiotic or medication but may cause topical irritation.
Which BV Treatment Is Best For Me?
While over-the-counter home remedies like Garlic tablets or Boric Acid suppositories have shown an ability to resolve mild to moderate BV, the gold standard for treatment is generally prescription antibiotics provided by a medical professional.
How To Get Rid Of BV
The easiest and most effective way to get rid of BV symptoms and ensure they don’t immediately return is to schedule a visit with the doctor.
A doctor can accurately diagnose your infection and rule out the possibility of other types of conditions, like vaginal yeast infection, that may produce similar symptoms.
The doctor will then prescribe the most appropriate antibiotic treatment to resolve your infection quickly.
Most patients experience marked relief from symptoms within 2 – 3 days of beginning antibiotic treatment.
Is There A Cure For BV?
Bacterial vaginosis can be easily resolved with prescription antibiotics. Prompt diagnosis and treatment improve the treatment timeline, and most patients will experience a significant reduction in symptoms within 2 – 3 days of starting treatment.
Most mild to moderate infections are completely cured within 10 – 14 days of starting a prescribed antibiotic treatment, while more severe or persistent conditions may require longer or repeat treatment to cure.
Who Needs Treatment For Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is not life-threatening for most patients. However, the symptoms of BV can be highly uncomfortable and become more painful over time.
Therefore, every patient experiencing the symptoms of BV should seek prompt treatment to resolve the infection quickly.
A select group of patients may be at higher risk for complications due to untreated BV. Therefore, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems should seek immediate treatment at the first sign of BV or other types of infection.
Antibiotics & Medications Used To Cure BV
There are a variety of medications and creams used to treat BV effectively. Your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment option to reduce symptoms quickly, provide immediate relief, and begin to destroy the bacteria causing the infection.
Oral antibiotics are often required to eliminate the bacteria that are the source of the infection. Therefore, doctors will usually prescribe oral antibiotics to resolve the infection.
The most common oral antibiotics proven effective against the bacteria responsible for BV are Metronidazole, Tinidazole, Secnidazole, and Clindamycin, though your doctor may prescribe an alternative antibiotic if needed.
Garlic pills are often used as an over-the-counter home remedy to treat mild to moderate BV infections. Garlic possesses natural antibacterial properties and can effectively resolve an infection when antibiotic treatment is contraindicated or unavailable.
That being said, Garlic tablets are markedly less effective than prescription antibiotics when it comes to the treatment of BV.
Bacterial Vaginosis Cream
Sometimes, the doctor or healthcare professional may prescribe an antibiotic cream that can be applied topically to treat the infection.
For example, antibiotic creams may be prescribed to help swiftly reduce mild to moderate BV infection symptoms.
Additionally, prescription antibiotic BV cream treatment may be used as an alternative to oral antibiotics in cases where the patient cannot tolerate the side effects associated with oral antibiotic treatment, or oral medications are otherwise contraindicated.
For those seeking an over-the-counter home remedy to relieve their BV symptoms, Boric Acid suppositories effectively resolve BV infections when used topically.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Oral prescription antibiotics are the quickest and most effective way to resolve a Bacterial Vaginosis infection. Schedule a doctor’s appointment at the first sign of symptoms to obtain a prescription for the appropriate oral or topical antibiotic to treat the source of the infection and relieve symptoms quickly.
Most patients will note a significant symptom reduction within 2 – 3 days of starting antibiotic treatment.
An overgrowth of bacteria causes BV infections. While the bacteria may be reduced during regular hygiene, reducing the severity of the symptoms is generally not sufficient to completely resolve the infection, and the symptoms will often return quickly.
Therefore, prescription antibiotics or over-the-counter antibacterial medications are usually required to eliminate the infection-causing bacteria and prevent a recurrence or worsening of symptoms.
Prescription antibiotic treatment should always be taken following the directions of the prescribing medical professional. Please pay close attention to the instructions provided by your doctor and follow them precisely.
If you are prescribed oral antibiotics, you will likely need to take 1 – 2 capsules or tablets 1 – 3 times daily, depending on the type of antibiotic.
Topical antibiotics should be applied per the doctor’s instructions. When taking antibiotics, it is essential to complete the entire course even though you will likely begin feeling better after the first couple of doses.
Dicloxacillin is a penicillin-type antibiotic that primarily targets gram-positive bacteria. However, gram-negative bacteria cause the most common BV infections. Therefore, Dicloxacillin is likely ineffective as a treatment for BV.
Sulfamethoxazole is a class of antibiotics that targets the reproductive ability of bacterial cells. As the bacteria cannot reproduce, their numbers dwindle until they are completely eradicated, and the infection is resolved.
Sulfamethoxazole drugs are most commonly used to target the type of bacteria most commonly responsible for upper respiratory infections. However, the medicine may have limited effectiveness in resolving BV infections.
Prescription antibiotics are the most effective way to resolve a BV infection. However, in cases where access to professional medical treatment is not feasible or oral antibiotics are contraindicated, over-the-counter antibacterial remedies may resolve the condition and relieve symptoms.
Garlic tablets contain natural antibacterial properties and may be used to reduce symptoms and eliminate BV infection.
In addition, Boric Acid suppositories can be used as a topical remedy to help cure BV infection at the source.
BV infection impacts females only. BV infection cannot be passed on to a male sexual partner. However, BV infection can be passed to a female sexual partner, and treatment may be required if a female sexual partner begins to experience symptoms of BV.