What is BV – bacterial vaginosis?
Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina – there are typically three types that are infectious: Candida (yeast) infections, atrophic vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis, commonly known as BV.
The bacterial vaginosis infection usually occurs when the normal bacteria flora in the vagina becomes out of balance. When this occurs it results in overgrowth of other organisms.
Symptoms of BV in women
The most common symptoms of BV in women are:-
- general discomfort
Bacterial vaginosis can produce a milky-looking discharge that has a ‘fishy’ smell. There is usually itching around the outside of the vagina and there can also be a burning sensation during urination.
How do you get a BV infection?
Bacteria and other types of yeast grow in the vagina as part of its normal function – this is known as the vaginal flora. Vaginitis occurs when the bacteria in the vagina multiply at an alarmingly rapid rate.
The condition is commonly linked to changes in vaginal hygiene, such as douching or using an intrauterine device as a contraception method.
The reason for this change in development are not clear – even though bacterial vaginosis does not appear to be a sexually transmitted disorder, there seems to be a higher incidence of BV among women with multiple sexual partners.
Tea tree oil – a natural treatment for BV
Conventional treatments for BV are usually an oral antibiotic, although some women prefer to use a topical preparation such as metronidazole gel or clindamycin suppositories.
Tea tree oil provides an all-natural effective relief from that awful foul smell commonly associated with bacterial vaginosis.
Here’s how you can use tea tree oil as a home remedy for BV:-
- Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a bowl of warm water.
- Mix well.
- Using the mixture to clean your vaginal area thoroughly.
You can repeat this process 2-3 times per day to help eliminate any embarrassing odours.
Home remedies for BV infections in women
You can also use tea tree oil as a douche:-
- Add approx 1.5 tablespoons of tea tree oil to a cup of warm water.
- Douche 2-3 times per day or as necessary.
If you experience any irritation using either of these treatments you should discontinue it immediately.
How to prevent future BV infection
The best way to prevent a BV infection from recurring is to practice good vaginal hygiene.
Here’s what women can do:-
- avoid regular douching – this is not necessary as it disrupts the normal balance of vaginal flora.
- don’t use scented soaps, particularly those with antibacterial properties
- avoid long baths and hot tubs/spas where possible
- when showering it’s a good idea to rinse the genital area thoroughly – when done, pat dry to prevent excess moisture or further irritation
- always use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections
- don’t use scented sanitary products such as tampons or pads as these can be irritating to vaginal tissue
- after using the toilet, always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus
- avoid wearing undergarments that promote genital sweating – choose light, cotton underwear where possible
You can also make small changes to your diet to help avoid bacterial vaginosis:-
- limit sugar
- add raw garlic – a potent antibacterial agent
- take probiotics – eat live culture yogurt or take capsules
Tea tree oil safety precautions
Tea tree oil can cause a reaction in some people with sensitive skin, so it’s a good idea to do a patch test first. If you experience any tingling, redness or itching after using tea tree oil on the skin then you could look at halving the amount of oil used in the above treatments.
You should never ingest tea tree oil as it can cause toxicity with symptoms such as drowsiness, diarrhea and vomiting. Pregnant women should always consult with their doctor before using tea tree oil.
As a general rule, if you experience any side effects after using tea tree oil you should consult with your health professional.