Bacterial vaginosis doesn’t cause serious women’s health problems. Still, the symptoms of BV, such as excessive vaginal discharge, fishy odor, itch, and irritation, can take a toll on your confidence and self-esteem, which impacts your life in greater ways than people might think. 

Fighting off these symptoms, especially if they are recurring, is not an easy feat. It requires habit changing, confidence, and persistence. It also requires not doing one of the dozens of home remedies that are not proven and may not yield long-lasting results.

However, there are several things that you can do at home to treat BV. One of them is taking Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV, which is a proven remedy for BV. 

Antibiotics cannot prevent the recurrence of BV

In a qualitative research study completed in 2016, there were 35 women involved who had recurrent BV and reported that they didn’t like taking antibiotics for BV. This was due to the fact that when taking antibiotics it caused adverse side effects for their BV to resurface soon after the treatment was completed. (1)

In another study conducted there were 121 women with BV who were treated with the recommended treatment of antibiotics observed over 12 months. What scientists discovered was that about 58% of these women experienced a recurrence of BV whereas 69% experienced recurrence of vaginal dysbiosis. (2)

However, other than just side effects and recurrence of BV at the end of antibiotic treatment, these women experienced clinical care that resulted in inconsistent advice, misdiagnosis, or dismissive attitude from physicians. Leading these women to take matters into their own hands and resort to lifestyle modifications and home remedies. 

Because of limited options to prevent BV, we have made it our duty to guide and give you our educated suggestions on such remedies.

Apple Cider Vinegar for BV 

apple cider vinegar for BV or Bacterial Vaginosis

If you are looking for natural remedies for BV that may help with the symptoms, you should definitely try Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV, for BV.

That being said, you shouldn’t: 

  • Take a bath in Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Rinse your vulva with Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Apply it to your tampon and insert it into your vagina.

Here is the proper way to use Apple Cider Vinegar to treat BV:

Take a tablespoon of ACV, add it into a glass of water to dilute it, then mix it well and drink it up. You can also add some honey to make it taste a little better.

How Apple Cider Vinegar works to treat BV

Apple Cider Vinegar is prepared by crushing apples and then fermenting them. Fermentation turns the natural sugars in the apple into alcohol. Alcohol, again, ferments to form a molecule known as acetic acid. Acetic acid is the active ingredient in Apple Cider Vinegar which might help with preventing BV odor and BV infection.

The acetic acid in Apple Cider Vinegar supports the growth of beneficial types of bacteria throughout the digestive tract, which thrive in a slightly acidic environment. This is similar to the action of lactic acid-forming bacteria (Lactobacillus) and yeast commonly found within probiotics for vaginal health. These strains of microbes acidify the gut through the production of lactic acid, similar to the action of acetic acid found in vinegar. (3) 

Benefits of using Apple Cider Vinegar for BV?

1. Acetic acid, a major component of Apple Cider Vinegar, has shown to have strong antibacterial properties. In an article published in 2018, the antibacterial properties of Apple Cider Vinegar on common bacteria involved in vaginal infections such as E. Coli, S. Aureus, and C. Albicans. The concentration of ACV tablets at which no growth was seen, varied by different bacteria. 

  • For E. Coli, it was 62µg/ml. 
  • For S. Aureus, it was 125µg/ml
  • For C. Albicans, it was 250µg/ml (4)

2. Along with other acids, Apple Cider Vinegar also has lactic acid, which keeps a strong check on bacterial growth in your vagina and helps to balance vaginal ph. (3)

3. Apple Cider Vinegar can treat your vaginal yeast infections too. A study conducted in 2015 shows that it has strong antifungal properties as well. (5)

Benefits of ACV on your overall health

  1. Helps treat acne: Apple Cider Vinegar has organic acids like lactic acid. Lactic acid can help you deal with your acne and who doesn’t want that. (6)
  2. Helps lower bad cholesterol: People who have increased cholesterol levels are at risk of getting heart disease. ACV helps in lowering the bad cholesterol in your body. (7)
  3. Helps reduce fat storage: If you are drinking Apple Cider Vinegar for BV, then here’s a treat for you.  ACV can also reduce fat storage in the body and ultimately can aid in weight reduction. (8)

Does ACV actually treat BV?

Does apple cider vinegar work for Bacterial Vaginosis BV

Having strong antibacterial properties and being acidic in nature, ACV can definitely help you fight off disease-causing organisms such as C. Albicans.  And with its acetic acid, improving the gut’s biome translates to an overall better probiotic profile throughout the entire body. However, in order to treat BV, you must also replenish your Lactobacilli storage in your vagina. This can be done by adding probiotics containing Lactobacilli into your diet.  

Will using Apple Cider Vinegar for BV cause any side effects?

As the saying goes – too much of anything isn’t always good. Taking ACV in appropriate amounts can help you deal with your BV symptoms. However, taking too much can cause negative side effects.

Side effects include:

  • Tooth and bone decay: you can suffer from tooth and bone decay, due to the high acidic content of ACV, which can make the minerals in the bones leak out. It’s important to always dilute your apple cider vinegar with water to reduce acidity.
  • Appetite suppression: too much ACV can also cause appetite suppression and indigestion issues.

But, if you are taking Apple Cider Vinegar slowly and consistently, these aren’t things to worry about!

If you are opting for Apple Cider Vinegar as a DIY home remedy for treating and preventing BV and other common vaginal infections, make sure to take it in low doses, do not take it too often, and always dilute it with water and honey.

Other home remedies and preventative tips for BV

Apple Cider Vinegar is not the only natural remedy for BV. There are several things that you can do to help minimize the recurrence and intensity of Bacterial Vaginosis and other vaginal infections.

  1. Add probiotics to your diet. probiotics will help increase beneficial bacteria in your vagina and help restore balance, improve your overall gut health, strengthen your immunity, and reduce bad bacteria.
  2. Avoid douching or using any washes. Some people believe it’s a good idea to use a natural hydrogen peroxide douche, but that can often cause more problems since it wipes out beneficial bacteria from your vagina and is not always effective. Although, many women have been douching for years and stand behind their effectiveness. When using hydrogen peroxide, it is generally recommended to use a strength of 3% or higher.
  3. Avoid unprotected sex. Semen being basic in nature can disrupt the pH of your vagina.
  4. The use of soaps, shampoos, perfumes, etc. should also be avoided at all costs. Your vagina is very delicate and can’t stand the harsh chemicals that are present in them.
  5. Eat foods that promote vaginal health. Especially berries, including cranberries and elderberries, which are high in antioxidants and tubers such as yucca or plantains, which are high in fibrous prebiotics.
  6. Change your tampons and pads after every 3-4 hours. Menstrual blood can disrupt the vaginal pH balance because it has a pH above 7.
  7. Use boric acid. The use of intravaginal boric acid is a practice that has been utilized for hundreds of years and is very effective at treating BV.
  8. Tea tree essential oils. A small body of research suggests that applying tea tree oil might treat symptoms of BV. It can also be effective in treating yeast infections. It is important to first test out tea tree oil on your forearm to ensure there are no negative reactions to this essential oil before applying to the vagina.
  9. Wear cotton underwear: Wearing cotton underwear is good for vaginal health, as it is breathable and reduces the excess moisture that can cause the growth of bad bacteria and candida.

Bottom Line

ACV has been used for centuries for its numerous benefits on women’s health. It has the capability to inhibit bacterial growth and eliminate them. Being that it’s acidic in nature, it can also help to balance your vaginal pH.  Therefore, it can be added to your daily routine for your overall health.

You need to be careful about how much you take in – Apple Cider Vinegar should always be taken in appropriate ways and doses. Excess can be harmful, and you don’t want any other problems while already dealing with one.

Lastly, seeking medical advice from your doctor or gynecologist before you self-diagnose is always better. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of BV, make sure to talk to your gynecologist first. He may prescribe you treatment or recommend over the counter options for treatment.

Glossary

Recurrence – the reappearance of a particular condition or its symptoms.

Vaginal dysbiosis – an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome.

Works Cited

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. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151794

Bradshaw, C. S., Morton, A. N., Hocking, J., Garland, S. M., Morris, M. B., Moss, L. M., … & Fairley, C. K. (2006). High recurrence rates of bacterial vaginosis over the course of 12 months after oral metronidazole therapy and factors associated with recurrence. The Journal of infectious diseases, 193(11), 1478-1486.

O’Hanlon, D. E., Moench, T. R., & Cone, R. A. (2011). In vaginal fluid, bacteria associated with bacterial vaginosis can be suppressed with lactic acid but not hydrogen peroxide. BMC infectious diseases, 11, 200. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2334-11-200

Yagnik, D., Serafin, V., & J Shah, A. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific reports, 8(1), 1732. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-18618-x

Mota, A. C., de Castro, R. D., de Araújo Oliveira, J., & de Oliveira Lima, E. (2015). Antifungal Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar on Candida Species Involved in Denture Stomatitis. Journal of prosthodontics: official journal of the American College of Prosthodontists, 24(4), 296–302. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopr.12207

Garg, T., Ramam, M., Pasricha, J. S., & Verma, K. K. (2002). Long term topical application of lactic acid/lactate lotion as a preventive treatment for acne vulgaris. Indian journal of dermatology, venereology, and leprology, 68(3), 137–139.

Shishehbor, F., Mansoori, A., Sarkaki, A. R., Jalali, M. T., & Latifi, S. M. (2008). Apple cider vinegar attenuates lipid profile in normal and diabetic rats. Pakistan journal of biological sciences: PJBS, 11(23), 2634–2638. https://doi.org/10.3923/pjbs.2008.2634.2638

Kohn, J. B. (2015). Is vinegar an effective treatment for glycemic control or weight loss?. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(7), 1188.