In this blog, we will answer the question, “How to stop recurring BV infections permanently?”. We will discuss 7 best approaches which can help you get rid of BV, for good.
Is it possible to stop recurring BV infections permanently?
Yes, it is possible to stop recurring BV infections permanently. It is quite common to catch BV again, even after you have cured it. Once you get diagnosed, your healthcare provider prescribes a suitable antibiotic. Recurrent infections don’t go away without medical treatment.
Once you complete your antibiotic course, there are a few things you can try to make sure you stay safe from BV and it never walks your way again. But first, let’s discuss how to cure recurring BV infection medically.
How to treat stubborn BV infection?
BV is a vaginal infection which is characterised with foul fishy odour, itching and abnormal vaginal discharge. It is the most common infection in women but it most commonly affects women of child bearing age.
Just like our gut, vaginas also have a high proportion of bacterial growth. We categorise them into ‘good and bad’ bacteria. Good bacteria are essential for maintaining vaginal microflora, whereas bad ones like Gardnerella vaginalis are pretty harmful.
As it becomes evident that your BV is here to stay, it’s time for medical treatment now as genital hygiene or simple home remedies are not that effective when it comes to recurrent infections. Most commonly used medicines for BV are:
Clindamycin comes under the class of antibiotics. It is an effective treatment against BV. It’s available in different dosage forms like pills, gels and suppositories.
According to Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) guidelines, following clindamycin regimens are effective.
- Clindamycin cream 2% intravaginally at bedtime for 7 days
- Clindamycin 300 mg 2 times a day for 7 days
- Clindamycin ovule suppositories 100 mg intravaginally once at bedtime for 3 days.
Metronidazole, which is also an antibiotic, is also an effective way to get rid of bv for good. It is available in various dosage forms. CDC recommends:
- Metronidazole tablet 500 mg 2 times a day for 7 days
- Metronidazole gel 0.75% intravaginally, once a day for 5 days
As bacterial resistance is one of the main issues with the use of antibiotics, the above mentioned medicines stop working when such resistance develops. Here tinidazole comes into the picture.
The preferred dose for tinidazole is 1 to 2 grams orally, once a day for 2 to 5 days, according to the severity of your infection and as prescribed by your physician.
Secnidazole is also used for the treatment of bv. It is available in oral granules. For your ease, CDC recommends you to add these granules in unsweetened applesauce, yoghurt, or pudding before ingestion followed by a glass of water which aids in swallowing.
Probiotics, also known as human-friendly bacteria or good bacteria, are widely used to combat bad bacteria responsible for bv infection. A 2014 study revealed that the use of probiotics, like lactobacillus, can hinder the growth of infection causing bacteria and prevents recurrence.
Probiotics are helpful in various ways in the treatment of BV and they are often prescribed along with antibiotics to protect your gut bacteria as well.
Boric acid is also used to treat BV. For quite sometime it remained a debate whether it is safe to use boric acid or not but it later concluded that it is indeed safe to use for the treatment of BV.
A 2009 study showed that boric acid in combination with antibiotic therapy cured recurrent BV in 58 women. Later, a 2019 study also reported benefits of boric acid in treating BV and yeast infections.
However, authors of both studies came up with a conclusion that further research is required to determine the proper use.
The researchers tested a treatment called LACTIN-V, which consists of Lactobacillus crispatus bacteria. This strain is common in the healthy vaginal microflora.
The researchers determined that LACTIN-V treatment could hinder the growth of harmful infection causing bacteria. The study concluded that LACTIN-V indeed reduced the recurrence of BV in women receiving it for 6 to 12 weeks.
How to stop Bv recurrence? 7 best approaches
As now your BV is treated, thanks to the use of prescribed antibiotics, a question pops up in your mind, ‘What if I get it again?’, right? No worries! Here’s how you can make sure it never walks your way again.
For starters, take care of your genital hygiene. Yes! Bad vaginal hygiene, in some cases, is solely responsible for bv recurrence. Wash your genitals with lukewarm water and DO NOT use any soap.
Vagina is self cleaning so the use of soap would do more harm than good by disturbing vaginal pH. Keep the vaginal area dry and wear breathable cotton panties.
Use of perfumed female products
Do not use perfumed pads and tampons. They can irritate your skin and can cause itching.
Refrain from douching. Usage of douche is closely associated with the spread of infection.
Avoid tight clothing as they can easily trap moisture which creates the perfect environment for infection causing bacteria to thrive. Be aware.
Sexual safety should be a priority, as it not only saves you from BV, but it also saves you from nerve-racking STDs. Try to opt for safe sex by using condoms, preferably latex.
Make sure your sexual partners are limited if you want to keep yourself safe. It’s better safe than sorry, right?
Post intercourse urination
Peeing after intercourse is the best way to get rid of opportunistic bacteria, just waiting there to attack you. Rinse your vagina thoroughly and pat it dry. It not only saves your vagina from vulnerability, but it also protects you from urinary tract infections.
Prebiotics and probiotics
The use of prebiotics and probiotics is an effective way to keep your vaginal microflora in check. According to experts, the use of natural sources is way better than using probiotic supplements.
Natural sources include yoghurt, asparagus, garlic, onions, leeks, banana, barley, oats, apples, cocoa, wheat bran, flaxseeds etc. Make sure to add probiotic rich foods in your diet everyday for better prevention.
Proper diagnosis of BV
BV is often mistaken for other infections, most commonly yeast infections. At times, women find it difficult to differentiate between the symptoms.
As both of the infections are originated from completely different species of microbes, hence proper diagnosis is mandatory for effective treatment.
They are both caused by the overgrowth of opportunistic microbes that should not be a part of your normal microflora. The basic difference between the two is that they are caused by different microorganisms.
BV is caused by bacteria whereas yeast infections are fungal in origin, usually caused by a fungus called candida. Their symptoms differ as well.
BV is known to produce fishy vaginal odour, while women with yeast infection don’t experience such a thing but have complained of itching and burning sensation in much higher proportion as compared to women with BV.
Causes of BV
Though the causes of bv are not fully determined, but multiple factors are considered responsible for making women more susceptible to BV
- Unprotected sexual intercourse
- Multiple sexual partners
- Poor vaginal hygiene
- Compromised immunity
- Use of perfumed female hygiene products etc
What are the symptoms of BV?
Bv infections are associated with symptoms like:
- Strong fishy vaginal odour
- Unusual watery discharge, greyish-white in colour.
- Itching and burning sensation
- Dysuria or painful urination
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
When to see your doctor?
It’s time to see your doctor when:
- You have unusual vaginal discharge
- Your itching and burning sensation gets worse
- You have been using home remedies and over-the-counter therapy but your symptoms persist
- You have already been diagnosed with bv, but your bv is resistant to the prescribed antibiotics
- You have multiple sexual partners and you start seeing unusual symptoms. Make sure to rule out STDs
Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection. Though it is not a dangerous condition, but it can be quite disturbing. It messes with female hygiene as it’s significant ‘fishy’ smell disturbs women the most and sometimes, it ends up disrupting their sex life.
BV can be treated permanently, but precautions are must to make sure it never comes back again and BV recurrence is quite common among young women, usually aged between 14 to 40 years.
BV, if left untreated, can indeed cause complications. In some cases, BV is linked to infertility. It is important to make sure you treat your BV carefully and take all the necessary precautions, as we discussed in this blog, to have a healthy and infection free vagina.
FAQs:How to stop recurring BV infections permanently
Can BV be cured permanently?
Yes, Bv can be cured permanently. Antibiotics are the best way to fight against bv. Metronidazole and clindamycin are most commonly used.
How can I stop getting BV so much?
- Take care of your vaginal hygiene
- Avoid douching
- Do not use perfumed female hygiene products. Vagina is self cleaning, avoid using scented soaps
- Limit your sexual partners
- Add healthy bacteria (prebiotics and probiotics) in your diet
- Avoid wearing tight clothes
- Wear breathable cotton panties
Why won’t my BV go away?
If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics and still your infection persists, it’s probably because your antibiotics are not working properly and are facing bacterial resistance. Consult your physician to change your prescription.
Which probiotic is best for BV?
Different variants of Lactobacillus are used as most effective probiotics to fight against bv. These include
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus paracasei
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus crispatus
What vitamins help prevent BV?
Vitamin C is said to be effective for preventing infections as it boosts your immunity and protects the body from unwanted infections. Vitamin C 250 mg tablet is used vaginally for 6 days to boost vaginal immunity.
What foods to avoid when you have BV?
- Processed food
- Meat or dairy with artificial hormone
- Too much sugar
- Enjoy eating whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds.
- Go heavy on pre and probiotics as your vagina requires healthy microflora to keep it’s pH normal.
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2021 https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment-guidelines/bv.htm
- Bacterial Vaginosis – CDC fact sheet https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm#:~:textBV%20is%20a%20result%20of,know%20how%20sex%20causes%20BV.
- Parvin Bastani, Somayeh Ziyadi, Sakineh Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi, Morad Ghalibaf (2014) – Effects of probiotics on the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis: a review https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24299970/
- Raig R Cohen, Michael R Wierzbicki, Audrey L French, Sheldon Morris, Sara Newmann, Hilary Reno, Lauri Green (2020) – Randomized Trial of Lactin-V to Prevent Recurrence of Bacterial Vaginosis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32402161/