Are you feeling less-than-great down there lately? Itching, burning, discharge? While unpleasant, these complaints are typical of two very common vaginal infections with similar symptoms: yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Here’s what you need to know about each — and the easy, at-home at-home remedies for bacterial vaginosis and yeast Infections that can heal them on a budget.
How to Get Rid of Bacterial Vaginosis without Antibiotics
Age-related hormone fluxes, menstruation, and even sex can bring a rise in vaginal pH that allows harmful bacteria to flourish, leading to bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition that causes odor and an itchy, irritating discharge, says Laura Corio, M.D., author of
The Change Before the Change (Buy on Amazon, $18). And while antibiotics will kill the bacteria that cause BV, they also knock out the vagina’s healthy flora, leaving you vulnerable to recurrence. Thankfully, these natural options are proven to treat BV and keep future infections at bay:
Try a daily probiotic.
Women with recurrent BV who ate five ounces of yogurt a day cut their risk of new infections by 50 percent, report researchers in Israel. Another study found that 88 percent of women who took probiotics containing lactobacillus along with antibiotics totally resolved their infection — just 44 percent of those on antibiotics alone were healed. To get the perks, look for products labeled “contains live and active lactobacilli cultures.”
Vitamin C for BV.
Inserting a 250-mg. vitamin C tablet into the vagina for six days in a row cured BV for 86 percent of women in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine Research. How it works: Vitamin C restores a healthy pH level in the vagina to enhance the body’s ability to fight off infectious bacteria. Dr. Corio advises using an enteric-coated pill to avoid irritation to sensitive vaginal tissue and inserting a tablet twice weekly to prevent future infections.
How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection
It’s normal for a yeast called Candida albicans to live in the vagina. But when levels of estrogen drop with age, the vaginal tract becomes more hospitable to the yeast, which then overgrows, says Dr. Corio. In fact, 60 percent of menopausal women suffer from recurrent yeast infections and the burning, itching, and discharge they cause. An at-home test, like Monistat
Care Vaginal Health Test (Buy on Amazon, $12), can help you diagnose a yeast infection. If it’s positive, the steps below can help.
Try gentian violet for yeast infections.
Gentian violet (GV) is an antiseptic that prevents candida spores from producing infection-causing proteins, and research shows it’s twice as effective at killing the yeast as over-the-counter treatments. To get the benefits, pour two teaspoons of a diluted, one percent solution of GV (like De La Cruz Gentian Violet — Buy on Amazon, $4) into a glass, soak a tampon in the solution, and wear the tampon for up to three hours twice a day for three days. Note: GV stains skin and clothing, so consider using a pad or panty liner to protect your clothes.
Vitamin B for yeast infections.
A form of vitamin B-3 called nicotinamide reduces the number of candida cells by 67 percent and enhances the power of prescription antifungal drugs, say Chinese researchers. You can get B-3 from foods like eggs, dairy, poultry, fish, and enriched grains — or by taking a supplement, like Life Extension NAD+ Cell Regenerator (Buy on LifeExtension, $18).
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Save on Healthcare (Buy on Amazon, $12.99).