How To Get Rid Of Bv Without Antibiotics

How To Get Rid Of Bv Without Antibiotics
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Many readers are interested in the following topic: Can You Get Rid of BV Without Antibiotics. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.

For some women, mild cases of bacterial vaginosis will go away on their own. However, there are a few remedies you can try at home to relieve symptoms and speed your recovery. If you are unsure whether you have bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection, go see your doctor.

Remedies to Relieve Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis, commonly known as BV, is the most common vaginal infection. Nearly 30% of women in the U.S. will experience bacterial vaginosis at some point in their lifetime.

Bacterial vaginosis happens when naturally-occurring so-called “bad” bacteria outnumber the “good” bacteria (lactobacilli) in the vagina. Doctors are unsure what causes this imbalance.

However, bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who are sexually active and in women who douche.

While many women with bacterial vaginosis don’t experience symptoms, others do. Symptoms may include:

  • Thin, green, white, or gray discharge
  • A “fishy” odor
  • Vaginal burning

You may be able to treat a mild case of bacterial vaginosis at home.

Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis

For some women, mild cases of bacterial vaginosis will go away on their own. However, there are a few remedies you can try at home to relieve symptoms and speed your recovery. If you are unsure whether you have bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection, go see your doctor.

Short-Term Remedies

When you have bacterial vaginosis, the pH (acidity level) of your vagina increases. Over-the-counter tests can tell you if your vagina’s pH is higher than normal, which can tell you if your infection is likely bacterial vaginosis. These tests aren’t always accurate, so if you’re unsure, go to your doctor.

Probiotics, live bacteria found in some foods and supplements, might help restore balance to your vaginal bacteria. Some studies show that eating yogurt or probiotic supplements may treat bacterial vaginosis, and is quite safe.

Another promising remedy is boric acid, a white powder with antifungal and antiviral properties. According to limited research, boric acid suppositories inserted into your vagina may help treat bacterial vaginosis, with few side effects. However, any product with boric acid should only be used after a diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis. More research is needed, so it’s important to check with your doctor before using boric acid.

Long-Term Prevention

While doctors aren’t sure how to prevent bacterial vaginosis, there are still some steps you can take that may help prevent it. These include:

  • Not having sex or reducing your number of partners
  • Using a male condom when you have sex
  • Not douching
  • Avoiding scented soaps for vaginal cleansing

Several studies show that taking a 2000 IU/day dose of vitamin D supplements may help avoid BV infections.

Taking a daily women’s probiotic with high levels of Lactobacilli (“good” bacteria) may help keep your vaginal bacterial balance healthy. Many women say that probiotics help them avoid infections, but more research is needed on this subject.

While you have bacterial vaginosis, avoid sex until your infection is treated. It is unusual for bacterial vaginosis to spread to male sexual partners, but it can be spread to female sexual partners. If this happens, female partners may need to be treated as well.

When to See a Doctor

While bacterial vaginosis is usually mild, in more severe cases it can have a lasting impact if left untreated. Bacterial vaginosis symptoms may appear similar to other vaginal infections, andhome remedies may be unsuccessful, so it’s important to see your doctor if symptoms do not disappear.

Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics that will usually treat bacterial vaginosis within one week. Finish all of your antibiotics, even if your symptoms go away early. If your symptoms don’t go away within a few days of finishing the antibiotic, go back to your doctor.

If left untreated, bacterial vaginosis can pose some severe health risks.

  • A bacterial vaginosis infection may increase your chance of contracting HIV.
  • Bacterial vaginosis also makes it more likely that you will contract other STDs like chlamydia or gonorrhea. These STDs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can make it difficult to have children.
  • If you are pregnant and contract bacterial vaginosis, a premature birth becomes more likely.

Show Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Bacterial Vaginosis- CDC Fact Sheet.”

Indian Journal of Medical Research: “Treatment of vitamin D deficiency is an effective method in the elimination of asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis: A placebo controlled randomized clinical trial.”

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: “Probiotics for the Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis: A Meta-Analysis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Bacterial Vaginosis.”

New Microbiologica: “Bacterial vaginosis: a review on clinical trials with probiotics.”

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: “Boric Acid Addition to Suppressive Antimicrobial Therapy for Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis.”

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women’s Health: “Bacterial vaginosis.”

Can You Get Rid of BV Without Antibiotics?

Jill Di Donato

Jill is a Senior Commerce Editor for Byrdie. Her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Refinery 29, NYLON, Milk Media, VICE, Salon, Bustle, Modern Luxury, Autre, and Angeleno.

Updated on 10/29/21
Medically reviewed by

Sara Twogood

Sara Twogood, MD is an obstetrician-gynecologist at Cedars Sinai with a passion for educating the public about female health and wellness.

Fact checked by
Anna Harris is an experienced fact-checker and researcher and a beauty writer and editor.


Treating BV Without Antibiotics

Bacterial vaginosis, commonly known as BV, is the most common vaginal infection in the US—which means it’s more prevalent than yeast infections. Affecting more than 21 million women between the ages of 14 and 49, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more likely than not, you’ve probably had BV at some point in your life. Caused by an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria, BV can be uncomfortable, with symptoms such as itching, odor, and discharge. Alternatively, sometimes BV doesn’t manifest symptoms, so people with the infection might not know they have it. Either way, treating BV is essential, especially if you’re pregnant. The CDC notes that left untreated, BV might lead to premature birth or low-birth-weight babies. Additionally, if left untreated in non-pregnant women, BV can increase the risk of other infections and cause a host of vaginal issues.

So, the question becomes, how do you effectively treat BV? When it comes to getting rid of BV, both of the experts we spoke to agreed that using antibiotics is an appropriate medical response. While for some this answer may be unsettling given the growing global problem of antibiotic resistance from the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, it’s important to distinguish between inappropriate and appropriate use of antibiotics, referred to as antibiotic stewardship. When used responsibly and for their fully prescribed course, antibiotics can remain an effective and vital part of worldwide medical treatment, according to the CDC. (Worth noting, antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections, and as such, should not be used to treat illnesses like influenza or other non-bacterial infections.)

On that note, please note that the remedies provided ahead are meant to eliminate BV cases in conjunction with antibiotics, or to be used as preventative measures against the infection.

Meet the Expert

  • Kate Denniston, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor, trained in both conventional and alternative medicine. She specializes in helping women optimize their hormonal health and practices at Los Angeles Integrative Health.
  • Allison Hill, MD, is an OBGYN in Los Angeles who specializes in hormone replacement therapy (including bioidentical hormones), cervical cancer screening, HPV, contraception and infertility.

What is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is bacterial overgrowth in the vagina, often categorized by thin, white and/or watery discharge. Other symptoms include a fishy odor and burning sensation.

Maintain Healthy Vaginal pH

Maintaining a healthy vaginal pH is essential to preventing and treating BV. “BV occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria that is normally found in the vaginal canal,” Hill says, “Alterations in the vaginal pH allow the normal bacteria to flourish.”

Denniston concurs, adding that in addition to a proliferation of “multiple potentially pathogenic bacterial species,” BV is also characterized by a decrease in “normal lactobacillus species,” necessary in regulating vaginal flora. She notes that “healthy lactobacillus species decrease with intercourse without condoms, douching, lubricants, and antibiotics.”

Hill adds that engaging in unprotected sex with a new sexual partner can also upset vaginal pH.

Refrain from Douching

To maintain healthy vaginal flora, you mustn’t douche. Hill says, “Contrary to trending and/or seemingly helpful advertisements; you do not want to use feminine hygiene products to clean your vagina as these are known to disrupt the pH balance.”

Denniston agrees that douching can upset the natural balance of “good” bacteria within the genital tract.

Wear Cotton Undergarments

Breathable fabrics are another must for keeping the vaginal microbiome in check. “Personal hygiene is crucial. In terms of proper undergarments, you want to wear breathable clothing, which includes cotton underwear, to maintain a dry environment,” says Hill.

Treat with Intravaginal Boric Acid

Intravaginal boric acid is a handy over-the-counter remedy effectively used in balancing vaginal flora. “Boric acid, [used vaginally] is a white powder or crystalline solid that acts similarly to a Monistat or a prescription antifungal like fluconazole meant to treat yeast infections,” says Hill, “Like antibiotics, boric acid is a strong antiviral and antifungal that lowers the vaginal pH and makes it more difficult for the bacteria that cause BV to grow. As a bonus, boric acid suppositories are both inexpensive and accessible.”

Bottle of vaginal suppositories

pH-D Feminine Health Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories $44.00

Incorporate a Probiotic Into Your Diet

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to balancing vaginal pH, a probiotic is an essential part of the regimen. “I recommend taking an OTC refrigerated probiotic like Florajen Women,” says Hill, “Refrigerated probiotics help restore and maintain the natural balance of vaginal flora as well as a healthy vaginal pH.”

Hill adds that if antibiotics are prescribed to treat BV, adding a probiotic will help keep your system regulated. “Antibiotics aren’t very picky and don’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria. They kill both and can disturb your natural microbial balance… often with (very) unpleasant results like antibiotic-associated diarrhea,” she explains. “Antibiotics should be used in conjunction with probiotics to help restore and support the natural balance of good bacteria.” She suggests using two hours before your antibiotics on an empty stomach.

Denniston also recommends using probiotics to maintain vaginal pH. “Taking particular lactobacillus supplements, specifically, lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 can be really helpful.”

In cases when antibiotics are prescribed to treat BV, Denniston reiterates that taking the aforementioned strains can help “replenish healthy flora and prevent recurrence of BV.”

Bottle of probiotics

Florajen Women $22.00

Get a Prescribed Lactobacillus Suppository

Probiotics don’t only come in ingestible forms; they’re available as suppositories as well. If you’re experiencing recurrent vaginal infections, consider asking your physician to prescribe a lactobacillus suppository to meant to normalize the vaginal flora.

Consult an Expert to Balance Hormones

The relationship between hormones and vaginal flora is different for every individual and vital to overall health and wellness. Sometimes, these hormonal changes can disturb the vaginal microbiome. According to Denniston, “changes in the vaginal microflora can lead to BV and other infections.”

Your OBGYN or other experts in maintaining balanced hormones (like a naturopathic doctor) can help figure out little tweaks in diet and lifestyle to help your hormones sync up.

See a Physician

Sometimes, BV may go away using home remedies that effectively balance vaginal pH. However, both of our experts note that BV can also lead to much more serious issues if left untreated. Hill advises, “You should see a doctor if your symptoms don’t resolve with the probiotics within a few weeks. For many women, if you have never had BV before, it is best to see a physician to confirm the diagnosis.” The most commonly prescribed antibiotic to treat BV is metronidazole, according to Hill. It’s important to continue the full course of antibiotics, even if your symptoms disappear or diminish sooner.

Denniston underscores the importance of medical care when it comes to vaginal infections. “If you suspect that you have BV or have symptoms of itching, irritation, odor, or discharge, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis with your doctor.” Self-diagnosis can be problematic with vaginal infections, especially because the risks associated without proper treatment can be serious. “If left untreated, BV can lead to serious complications such as infertility, other infections, chronic pelvic pain, and chronic pelvic inflammatory disease,” explains Denniston.

Article Sources

Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Statistics. Updated February 10, 2020.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). Updated July 22, 2021.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic Resistance Q&A. Updated August 23, 2021.

Why Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Best Choice for Treating BV

How To Get Rid Of Bv Without Antibiotics

Antibiotics can be used to treat Bacterial Vaginosis but they might also increase the chances of its recurrence.

8 min read | July 1, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • Antibiotics can be used to treat BV but they might also increase the chances of its recurrence.
  • Antibiotics might cause dysbiosis in vaginal microflora, kill good bacteria, and eventually might lead to bacterial resistance.
  • Metronidazole, Clindamycin, and Tinidazole are the first line of treatment options for BV.
  • Some alternatives for BV prevention; Boric acid, Probiotics+Prebiotics, avoiding douching, avoid unprotected sex.

Table of Contents

  • What is Bacterial Vaginosis or BV?
  • How do you treat BV?
  • Current first-line treatment options for BV
  • What antibiotics do to your body and your vagina’s ecosystem
  • How you can get rid of BV without antibiotics?

Product featured

Prebiotic + Probiotic

In order to balance your microflora, you need to add the combination of both Probiotics and Prebiotics to your diet.

Prebiotic + Probiotic

Scientists often say that bacteria residing on earth can easily outnumber the stars shining in our galaxy. Some also give an estimated number of 5 trillion and one can only imagine the exposure we have with these microorganisms. Therefore, antibiotics can be a blessing especially for those who are suffering from acute life threatening infections.

However, antibiotics are often referred to as weapons of mass destruction in the pharmaceutical world. Why? Because they might not differentiate between good and bad bacteria, they might increase the risk of bacterial resistance, and might also cause adverse reactions. Let’s see how antibiotics aren’t always the best choice when it comes to treating BV infection.

What is Bacterial Vaginosis or BV

Bacterial Vaginosis is defined as the dysbiosis of good and bad bacteria in your vagina. This condition can be characterized by thin and milky white to grayish discharge. The discharge has a foul unusual odor which is a clear indicator that you might have contracted BV.(1) If you want to know more about BV, here’s our ultimate guide.

Under normal conditions, your vagina hosts millions of good bacteria called Lactobacilli. However, females with BV have low Lactobacilli concentrations and an increased number of harmful bacteria.

According to studies, women who suffer from BV have increased strict facultative bacteria in their vagina such as Gardnerella sp. (2)

Hard to grasp? Just remember that Lactobacillus Acidophilus is your vagina’s best friend and bacteria like Gardnerella are harmful for your vagina’s health.

How do you treat BV

About 84% of women remain asymptomatic, what that means is that they do not show any symptoms at all. If you’re lucky enough to be among that 84 % of women, then you might not require treatment. (3)

If you tend to fall into the remaining 16% then you should visit your OB/GYN to seek medical advice. Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics such as clindamycin and/or metronidazole. Both of these can be taken orally or applied as a gel. They’re also safe to be used during pregnancy, however, you should first ask your gynecologist.

If your BV is unresponsive to this treatment, alternatives are always an option. Tinidazole is given to women who are unresponsive to metronidazole.

There are two key aspects of treating a BV infection:

  1. Killing the bad bacteria, and making sure that you don’t kill the good ones while doing so.
  2. Secondly, replenishing your stores of good bacteria such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus.

Even though antibiotics can be used for treating chronic BV infections they are not suitable for treating your acute BV.

This is because most of the antibiotics are non specific in nature or in other words they cannot differentiate between good and bad bacteria and the chances of recurrence are pretty high.

However, there are other OTC or over the counter options available to treat your recurring BV such as boric acid and probiotics.

Current traditional treatment options for BV

1. Metronidazole (Flagyl, MetroGel)

Metronidazole belongs to the class of antibiotics. These antibiotics work against anaerobic bacteria and is a drug of choice for the treatment of BV. (4)

According to the CDC’s treatment guidelines:

  • Metronidazole can be taken orally for 5 days at a dose of 500mg twice a day.
  • It can also be applied as a gel once a day for 5 days.
  • Most common brands of metronidazole are Flagyl and Metrogel – a gel for BV treatment. (5)

2. Clindamycin (Cleocin, Clindesse)

Clindamycin is an antibiotic used to treat a number of bacterial infections. Clindamycin is notorious for causing the overgrowth of bad bacteria. (6)

According to the CDC’s treatment guidelines:

  • Clindamycin cream for BV treatment can be applied intravaginally. It should be applied at bedtime for at least 7 days.
  • Clindamycin can be taken orally as an alternative treatment. The dose should be 300mg taken twice daily for 7 days. (5)

3. Tinidazole (Tindamaz)

Tinidazole is considered an alternative antibiotic for the treatment of BV.

CDC suggests two treatment strategies with tinidazole.

  • 2g of tinidazole orally for 2 days only.
  • 1g orally for 5 days. (5)

What do antibiotics do to your body and your vagina’s ecosystem?

Antibiotics are the drugs which are specifically targeted to kill disease causing microorganisms. Some antibiotics are smart enough to target bad bacteria only.

Unfortunately, most antibiotics are non-specific in action i.e. they kill both bad and the good bacteria. In the absence of good bacteria, harmful bacteria can grow back in number easily. Moreover, your vaginal microbiome keeps shifting rapidly after receiving antibiotic treatment. This explains why BV keeps recurring… You should try to treat your BV without antibiotics and more naturally whenever you can. (7)

How you can get rid of BV without antibiotics?

If you’re wondering how to get rid of BV without antibiotics, here’s a list of alternatives you can try.

1. Boric Acid

Boric acid is most commonly used as an OTC BV medication. It is easily available at your local medical store and is inexpensive too. A clinical study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of boric acid as a treatment for BV. The results concluded that 88-92% of the women were cured within 7 to 12 weeks of treatment. (8)

According to the guidelines of CDC, boric acid can be applied for 21 days at a dose of 600mg per day to avoid the recurrence of BV. (5)

2. Prebiotics + Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms which are good for your health. You can take them as supplements or naturally from yogurt with live cultures.

Prebiotics are the fibers which remain undigested in the body until they reach your large intestine where they ferment. Their fermentation provides food for beneficial bacteria or probiotics.

As you know, the imbalance of the vaginal microbiome is one of the major causes of BV. So, in order to balance your microflora, you need to add the combination of both Probiotics and Prebiotics to your diet. They are meant to enhance, build and maintain the good microbial community in your body. (9)

You can find natural sources of prebiotics in bananas, onions, garlic, artichokes and skin of apples etc. Probiotics can be obtained from natural sources (yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut etc.) and supplements.

Prebiotic + Probiotic

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Prebiotic + Probiotic

Our Happy V ® Prebiotic + Probiotic was created for anyone who is experiencing symptoms related to Bacterial Vaginosis and Yeast Infections. Eliminate the odor, itch, gut bloating, and other symptoms.

3. Lifestyle changes

In order to treat BV without antibiotics you need to make a few healthy lifestyle changes such as:

  • Clean eating – Avoid the three S’s (Salt, Sugar and Saturated fats)
  • Change pads or tampons more frequently
  • Reduce alcohol intake and more (10)

All these steps can not only reduce your chances of contracting BV but will also help you avoid its recurrence.

4. Avoid douches, vaginal soaps and cleansers

Your vagina is capable of cleaning itself, so you don’t need to go the extra-mile to keep it clean.

You might think washing your vagina with fancy vaginal washes can make it smell like roses? However, that’s not totally accurate because your vagina has its own scent and is not meant to smell like flowers or a summer’s breeze.

Feminine products intended for vaginal cleansing and washing are loaded with harsh chemicals that can destroy your vaginal health. These chemicals can disturb your vaginal pH and can also wash out the good bacteria thus making it a risk factor for developing infections. Avoid using scented soaps, shampoos and vaginal cleansers too!

5. Avoid unprotected sex

The ideal pH for your vagina is less than 4.5 and it needs to stay that way. Your vagina will shift out of balance if pH goes up or down.

On the other hand, semen is basic in nature so your vagina is prone to pH changes if you’re having an unprotected sex. Here’s what you can do about it:

  • Rinse your vaginal area with water after having an intercourse.
  • Pee right after having sex (to wash off any unwanted organisms)
  • Use latex free condoms – Latex condoms can be irritating for your vaginal mucosa.
  • Use paraben-free lube – most lubes contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your vagina and vulva and may cause vaginal infections to occur.
6. Wear breathable cotton underwear

It’s hard for your vagina to breathe in air because of its anatomical location. Moreover, if you like to wear satin or silk panties, you’re making it absolutely impossible for your vagina to breathe. Silk or satin provides ideal conditions for bacterial growth i.e. moist and warm.

According to WebMD, wearing cotton undies lowers your risk of getting BV. Cotton is light and breathable for your skin. Try switching to cotton undies, you can thank us later.


Bacterial resistance – Ability of bacteria to resist the action of medication intended to kill or stop it.

Dysbiosis – Imbalance in microbial flora

Facultative bacteria – Bacteria that can grow with or without oxygen

Anaerobic bacteria – Bacteria that can grow in the absence of oxygen and are capable of causing disease.

Works Cited

  1. Van den Munckhof, E. H., van Sitter, R. L., Boers, K. E., Lamont, R. F., te Witt, R., le Cessie, S., … & Leverstein-van Hall, M. A. (2019). Comparison of Amsel criteria, Nugent score, culture and two CE-IVD marked quantitative real-time PCRs with microbiota analysis for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases , 38 (5), 959-966.
  2. Mårdh P. A. (1993). Définition et épidémiologie des vaginoses bactériennes [The definition and epidemiology of bacterial vaginosis]. Revue francaise de gynecologie et d’obstetrique , 88 (3 Pt 2), 195–197.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial vaginosis statistics.
  4. Sonja Löfmark, Charlotta Edlund, Carl Erik Nord, Metronidazole Is Still the Drug of Choice for Treatment of Anaerobic Infections, Clinical Infectious Diseases , Volume 50, Issue Supplement_1, February 2010, Pages S16–S23,
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial vaginosis treatment guidelines. https: / /
  6. NIH. U.S. National Library of Medicines. Medline Plus (Clindamycin).
  7. Mayer, B. T., Srinivasan, S., Fiedler, T. L., Marrazzo, J. M., Fredricks, D. N., & Schiffer, J. T. (2015). Rapid and Profound Shifts in the Vaginal Microbiota Following Antibiotic Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis. The Journal of infectious diseases , 212 (5), 793–802.
  8. Reichman, O., Akins, R., & Sobel, J. D. (2009). Boric acid addition to suppressive antimicrobial therapy for recurrent bacterial vaginosis. Sexually transmitted diseases , 36 (11), 732–734.
  9. Markowiak, P., & Śliżewska, K. (2017). Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients , 9 (9), 1021.
  10. Bilardi, J., Walker, S., McNair, R., Mooney-Somers, J., Temple-Smith, M., Bellhouse, C., Fairley, C., Chen, M., & Bradshaw, C. (2016). Women’s Management of Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis and Experiences of Clinical Care: A Qualitative Study. PloS one , 11 (3), e0151794.

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