Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common type of vaginal infection. 29% of all women in the United States today are affected by BV, which is caused by a imbalance of natural bacteria inside the vagina. Conventional treatment involves prescription antibiotics administered orally (in pills or capsules) or in a vaginal cream or gel. However, more than half the women treated for this condition with an antibiotic regimen experience recurrent symptoms within 12 months. Advocates of natural treatments and “home remedies” contend that these are the only treatments that can lead to permanent bacterial vaginosis relief.
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there is a simultaneous reduction in the number of normal hydrogen peroxide-producing lactobacilli (“good” bacteria) and an increase in the concentration of other forms of bacteria (especially anaerobic or ‘bad” bacteria) inside a woman’s vagina. Certain practices or activities are believed to increase the risk of developing this imbalance:
85% of women who have the condition have no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they usually include a thin, grayish-white or yellow discharge from the vagina, accompanied by an unpleasant “fishy” odor. A physician will diagnose BV using Amsel’s Criteria, which are: 1. a vaginal pH greater than 4.5; 2. presence of the discharge described above; 3. presence of so-called “clue cells” (vaginal cells covered with bacteria), and 4. A positive “whiff test,” this is when a drop of potassium hydroxide is mixed with a drop of the woman’s vaginal discharge, resulting in a fishy odor.
Conventional medical treatment for bacterial vaginosis is based on one of several prescription antibiotics: metronidazole, known as Flagyl (pill form), or Metrogel (vaginal gel); cindamycin cream, known as Cleocin; and Tinidazole (known as Tindimax). Flagyl is believed to be the most effective of the antibiotics commonly prescribed. Three products available over-the-counter are also used to treat BV without a prescription: Femanol, which is believed to be effective 705 of the time based on published customer reviews; Destinol, believed to be effective 65% of the time, based on customer reviews; and Fem-Dophilus, which recent customer reviews indicate is effective up to 80% of the time.
Various advocates of natural treatment contend that only the non-prescription products described above, or one of the natural treatments or home remedies for BV, can provide permanent relief. The advocates believe that these natural, non-prescription and home remedies lead to a restoration of the natural pH level inside the vagina, thereby eliminating the underlying or root cause of the condition. There are at least two proprietary natural treatments sold on the Internet, both of which are recipes subject to copyright:
- The BV Miracle; and
- 3 Days to Permanent Bacterial Vaginosis Relief.
Popular home remedies include apple cider vinegar (added to bathwater every day for a week); plain yogurt (inserted into the vagina on a tampon) and cranberry juice (consumed regularly for several days to detoxify the body).