Bacterial Vaginosis
Natural Remedies

What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?

| Modified on Jan 15, 2024

Much like anywhere else in the body, there is a fine mix of good bacteria and bad bacteria in the vagina. When this balance gets out of whack, though, the result can be illness. Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infections women of childbearing age experience and is actually linked to a number of different factors. However, if you understand the condition, you'll be better prepared to avoid it.

What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Considered a mild infection of the vagina, bacterial vaginosis or BV is an issue caused by bacteria. While the good bacteria help control the bad bacteria in a healthy body, that balance can be upset, causing too much bad bacteria.

How Do You Know If You Have BV?

A number of different vaginal conditions can cause concern, so it can be difficult to identify whether you have bacterial vaginosis or another condition. Knowing the most common signs of the issue, though, tends to help. The main sign or symptom of BV is vaginal discharge that is watery or thin, gray to white in color, and has a strong and unpleasant or almost fishy smell. Additional symptoms include burning during urination, itching outside the vagina, and fatigue.

What Causes BV?

While the root cause of BV is an upset in the natural balance of bacteria in the body, even experts cannot identify exactly what causes the onset of the imbalance. In any case, however, a number of factors have been identified that may contribute to the onset of the condition.

1. Lifestyle Choices

A number of lifestyle choices can lead to vaginal issues. Having more than one or a new sex partner is one contributing factor. Likewise, smoking and other lifestyle choices may also lead to changes in vaginal health.

2. Hygiene Practices

Maintaining hygiene practices is important to supporting vaginal health; however, some practices may also lead to the development of the condition. Douching and other hygiene practices have been identified as potential contributing factors. This and other practices offset the natural pH in the vagina, which may contribute to the imbalanced production of bacteria. Additionally, a lack of hygienic practices can also contribute to the condition.

3. Genetic Factors

As frustrating as it is, some women just don't produce enough of the "good" bacteria naturally. This imbalance in production is a key factor to the onset of the condition.

4. Dietary Choices

While candida, a different form of infection that can affect vaginal health, is more directly linked with dietary choices, diet may also affect bacterial vaginosis. The old adage "you are what you eat" holds true in many cases of health conditions, and BV is no different. A diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates that lacks whole foods and natural "good" bacteria is a key contributor to bacterial vaginosis and other issues with vaginal health.

As common as bacterial vaginosis is, research is inconclusive as to the actual cause of the condition. If you are dealing with recurrent BV, consider the potential causal factors and make a few changes to see if anything helps. Also, take a look at our extensive page of natural remedies for BV for additional suggestions for treatment.

Related Links:

Effective Natural Remedies for Vaginal Itching Relief
Effective Natural UTI Remedies for Quick Relief
Home Remedies for BV-H2O2, Folic Acid, Acidophilus
Natural Yeast Infection Remedies: Herbal Solutions & Lifestyle Tips
Top Natural Bacterial Vaginosis Remedies
Trichomoniasis Remedies

11 User Reviews

5 star (8) 
4 star (1) 

Posted by Happy123 (La) on 07/13/2017

I first started getting BV after having an IUD inserted, and it comes back every time I have sex. It's caused me to avoid sex with my boyfriend and embarrassment at work or when in close quarters with anyone as I worry they can smell the fishy odor. My doctor has always prescribes the antibiotic Metronoidazole for it, which gives me the most awful side effects. I've started to dread the antibiotic more than the BV itself.

I am so glad I found this site and read the countless positive reviews. I am also happy to be able to leave a positive review of my own. :)

Using a 50/50 solution of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide and water, I soaked a tampon in the solution for about 5 minutes. I then inserted the tampon and waited for about 20 minutes before removing. After the first time, I instantly noticed that wonderfully, the smell was gone. About an hour later I still felt a mild tingling sensation but it wasn't painful or uncomfortable, just a little distracting. Halfway through the following day, I noticed that the smell was still sort of there, and so I repeated the process twice, keeping one day off in between each treatment to avoid burns or irritation. Then, 7 days after the first treatment, I bought a douche kit, emptied it out, and filled it with the 50/50 solution. The smell wasn't really noticeable after the second treatment but I really didn't feel I had done enough to get rid of the bacterial buildup, and wasn't convinced it was really gone, so a thorough douching process seemed worth the added effort (even though I always promised myself I would NEVER douche! ).

It's only been a few hours since the douching process, and I avoided my boyfriend ALL WEEK so that I could try this treatment, which, to be quite honest I was very very doubtful of before I tried.

I am not sure if the BV will stop occurring now, because I do believe that my IUD is the cause. However, I am glad to know that I can treat the nasty problem when it does come back, and using items I have around the house!

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Healthybear (Virginia) on 07/10/2017

I posted over 6 years ago with having I posted over 5 years ago with having finally cured my BV. In my previous post I mentioned that I left my then boyfriend, got treated with flagyl, recolonized my system with good bacteria and lived BV free...UNTIL September of last year.

Well I'm sad to report that after reuniting with the boyfriend, my BV came back. It wasn't as bad as it was before, but within 48 hours of being intimate with him, I would get the fishy discharge every single time!!! This went on for 8 months and I tried everything I did before and it came back each time.

I wanted so badly to make things work with him because we have a child, but I could not continue taking flagyl every month so I ended it. After taking my last dose about 2 moths ago, I recolonized my system with femdolphis orally (2x per day) and purfem vaginally for 10 days. I also checked my ph daily with ph paper.

After things were back to normal, I had to test my theory that he was the cause. I had sex with the man I had been with for the past 4 years (split with him to work things out with "bv causing ex") and NO BV!!! We have had sex three times within the past month and still no problems. I continue to check my ph and it's staying in the healthy range of 3.5-4.0.

I hope this helps someone, it's possible that men do carry the bacteria and pass it back to us. I had to let my body chose who I will be with so I'm staying with the man whose penis doesn't make my vagina sick.

Replied by Li

Just wanted to post here for future readers that precum/semen can cause BV. The PH of the semen of some men will throw off the PH of the vagina, thus causing BV. It is recommended to use condoms if this is a problem. Also, there is such thing as a semen allergy (seriously). If you have a semen allergy, you may also be allergic to certain types of condoms too (latex, condoms with spermicide) so be careful and try a non-latex condom.

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Lynn (Arizona) on 06/18/2017

I have suffered with BV for almost 3 years now and now that I read these comments I'm starting to trace it back to the nuva ring. It all started when I began using that and when I got off of it and used the prescribed pills for BV it went away but shortly after I got back on the nuva ring and have gotten BV again! And I don't have any health insurance at the moment so I can't go back to the doctors so I'm trying to the tea tree oil remedy and praying for the best.

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Desiree (California) on 06/06/2016

Hey Ladies,

because BV is a PH imbalance, tampons will actually cause BV. I was on antibiotics for almost 2 years before learning about this miracle cure. But I took it a step further and stopped wearing tampons as well. I have not had a problem since.

BV Cause Theories
Posted by L (Usa) on 02/06/2016

Anyone with recurring BV, UTI or IC request to be tested for UREAPLASMA. No Drs test for it UNLESS you demand culture. If you have suffered for years, you may become resistant to Medications. Discuss Avelox over doxycycline. Good Luck

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Cat (Warrington, Pa) on 09/28/2015

Hello Ladies,

Reading the posts on here and wanted to pass along some information. Seems a lot of people think there is no cause for BV, actually there are several.

Basically when the pH of the vagina changes it causes the bad bacteria to grow. Some reasons the pH changes: sex (semen), antibiotics, some people may inadvertently wipe from back to front thus causing fecal matter to enter the vaginal area (this will DEFINITELY cause bad bacterial growth.

I have had BV from sex, my body doesn't like my bf's semen. I treated with Flagyl and was fine. Now I try to shower immediately after and remove and cleanse my vagina.

Hope this helps someone!

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Betty (Tampa, Florida) on 09/26/2015

OK I just had to try to find a site where I could tell what has happened with me. I have struggled for years with BV; taken every medication possible and just no luck. Recently I found that I was unable to get my hormone pills Prempro because of cost here in the states and unable thru Canada because the company was temporarily unable to get their supply from Wyth Labs until into 2016. OK I decided to just go without the Prempro and hopefully not have the hormonal sweats...after about 1 1/2 months my BV is gone. Thru the month and a half the discharge diminished and then stopped. This is the only change I have had so I have to think the Prempro was the cause of my BV problem. If you are taking hormone pills, think about this.

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Joann (Texas) on 03/07/2015

I had reoccurring BV for a year, seemed like every month or every other month, I finally convinced my husband's PCP to treat him and I would also go on the antibiotics so we could both hopefully be BV free. Well even after abstaining for an extra two weeks, as soon as we had sex, I could feel the symptoms coming back within day. It seems that semen throws off my ph, I'm sensitive to latex, but really I don't want my husband of 19 yrs to have to wear condoms and pull out doesn't always work. So after reading all the remedies on this site, I think I will try to douche after sex and insert a probiotic or maybe even the yogurt tampon w/ acidophilus sprinkled in. So just letting you know that I also had hoped us both taking the antibiotics would work, but for us it was a fail.

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Jucole (Virginia, US) on 12/18/2014

Just an FYI Ladies: BV can definitely be contagious. You can get it from feminine sprays & other chemicals like your laundry detergent (always rinse clothing twice) which can be eliminated by stopping the products you're using or it could be coming from your partner. After taking meds for BV for 3 years I finally convinced my doctor to treat my boyfriend & I together & ever since I've been fine. So if you're having recurring BV infections & having unprotected sex, get your partner treated as well. I know men do not like taking pills, so fortunately there is a two day course they can take of tindamax. Please of course consult your doctor first. I think doctors are not treating male partners for this because there's no way they can test them for it, therefore they don't want to be held liable for prescribing medicine to men that have not been tested. If that makes any sense, while women continue to suffer & get sick over & over & the pharmaceutical companies continue to prosper. If your partner is reluctant in taking the meds, see if his doctor can check him for gardnerella. That is the clinical term for BV. Good luck ladies!

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Mel (Michigan, US) on 11/23/2014

Absolutely love this website. It really helped me deal with my BV and YI symptoms. Took Flagyl after being diagnosed with BV. Symptoms went away and then the YI came full blown. Used yogurt, probiotic, water with lemon in the morning, and junk food occasionally (I'm not going to lie...I'm a student). I was feeling great!!

BUT...symptoms came back when I started back in an unprotected sexual relationship with the same person before the flagyl. To my surprise (or maybe I was playing stupid), I began to realize could be "him" reinfecting me.

This time the unprotected relationship has stopped, using condoms now!!! Back on the regimen for YI because the itchy feeling is back, with slight smelly discharge in the morning. I'm going back to doctor to re-test me. LADIES SOMETIMES ITS NOT US...ITS REALLY THEM! Good luck and be well. :)

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Cured For Five Years! (Mississippi) on 07/06/2014

I am so eager to share my experience with BV. It took years to fully understand my body and how it reacts to different things. I've suffered on and off again since early 20's.(now 48) It wasn't until about five years ago that research finally paid off. Come to find out, I was allergic to latex. I would use condoms in my active years and it never occurred to me that most comdoms are latex, causing a flare up and here I'd go to the doctor. I switched to non latex condoms. Then realizing that my area down there was still just too sensitive to harsh soaps, and washing liquids too. So I decided to try washing the panties alone in antibacterial hand liquid soap, the dollar store brand is fine, and swapped to a separate soap, Dial Gold, for the south region area. I'm here checking out the site because I swam in the Gulf, and a busy pool and a bayou and I am certain I'm having a flare up, but here for an alternative method for relief. So for you sufferers over and over again, try the above for and make it routine, period! I also wanted to point out that my daughter suffered as well and for the most part, free and clear.

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Tmiller (Hattiesburg, Ms) on 09/12/2013

I am so glad I found this site. I want to share my piece of the BV, just about cure all, for me anyway. I suffered from BV for many years until I figured what was triggering a flare, up so to speak. A flare up would normally happen after protected sex, washing my undies in regular detergent, washing my private with regular soap, etc. I slowly but surely found out I must use non latex condoms, an antibacterial soap down there and also wash my undies alone in antibacterial liquid soap only. I no longer have the problem! It has been a great relief. Hope this helps someone.

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Bvgottago! (Va) on 08/16/2013

I've been suffering with BV off and on for about 20 years, and had a partial hysterectomy 5 years ago. Yes, I am still suffering from this aggravating pita! After reading this entire page I'm hopeful that I've finally come across some info that can help me to get rid of it once and for all! Have to agree with the fact that some partners semen seems to set it off quicker than others. But after seeing someone ask "what is happening to all of us that is causing this?" Do any of you use fabric softener in your laundry? I for one am going to get some more borax and wash my panties in it and add white vinegar to the rinse cycle. That is sure to remove any residue that is lingering, and I've read that WV is a great natural fabric softener. As of tonight I'm sitting here typing this and trying the Hydrogen Peroxide & water tampon method, with VERY high hopes that it will work!!! I do think that there is something to the eating yogurt as well. When I eat yogurt on a regular basis I don't have any issues. But I haven't eaten any in about a month now and shew the smell!! Bless my bf's heart he seems to understand as he was raised with a bunch of sisters and gets the female anatomy. He just wants me better. Having wondered if men can this I asked a doctor about 6 years ago. (thought my husband was cheating on me! ) Doc said it is something we can give ourselves and is possible for it to be passed from one partner to another. He was gracious enough to give me enough medication for both of us, and it worked for a while. So if a doc says it can't be passed... Yes it obviously can! But still can't find any info on how to properly treat your male partner in a homeopathic method. Any ideas or suggestions? Would be interested in feedback. I'll be back in about a week to update how the Hydrogen Peroxide/Water is doing. Good Luck Ladies!

BV Cause Theories
Posted by Kris (Orlando, Fl) on 07/12/2013

Please help ladies. I have no idea what's happening. I've never had BV and I've only ever had a yeast infection once. Right now I am suffering from some awful pain. It seems the whole "area" has got this burning feelings. It doesn't happen when I pee but if I touch it it stings. Having sex is painful as ever. It's burns. I have no abnormal discharge and no odor (boyfriend checked for me, thank god). Has anyone else ever had this? How do I treat this? I stopped all gels for shaving and soaps for washing and strictly use soap and water. Is this BV? I have an appt to see a doctor on the 23 but I'm just so worried and in pain.

Replied by Leah
(Philly, Pa)

Hello, I just read a post yesterday of someone using borax in capsules for this. You can make them at home with regular borax (20 mule brand) and empty capsules from the health food store or online. My mom and sister use this remedy for regular yeast infections. I have used acidophilus capsules for regular yeast infection too. Both work for regular yeast infection. It will cause some discharge because the yeast and bacteria need to die off and be emitted from your system. (I have never douched but I would guess that an iodine or colloidal silver douche might work too).

I would also recommend treating it from the digestive end as well. You can use lugols iodine, raw crushed garlic, ginger, colloidal silver, or a 1/8 tea spoon borax in a liter/quart of water sipped over the course of the day. These are all very good antibacterial, anti fungal remedies. Look on this website for details of how to use each once you decide what one you are going to try. You should also reseed your system with acidophilus or fermented foods such as traditional sauerkraut, kimchee, kefir, Kampuchea tea, apple cider vinegar etc.

You might even consider doing a full body cleanse. One option is to simply cut out all processed foods, especially anything with sugar (lowers your immunity), artificial sweeteners, favors, colors, preservatives (lowers your immunity), and gmos (interferes with immunity by upsetting digestion, bt toxin from gmos is a pesticide that can be manufactured by bad bacteria inside your intestines! ). Most people feel 100% better on a paleo diet which excludes grains and dairy (hidden allergies) and emphasizes grass fed meat, eggs, coconut oil, flax oil, fish oil, nuts, seeds, organic fruits and veggies.

Replied by Mrs. Hill
(Fayetteville, Ar)

For some immediate relief, Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Organic Coconut Oil is the first thing I would try, topically. It should be soothing. It is antibacterial and antifungal. You can add a few drops of tea tree and or lavender essential oil per Tablespoon of Coconut oil as these are also healing.

Whole Milk Plain (no sugar) yogurt (preferably organic) topically may be of relief as well.

Replied by Tamara
(Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)

@Kris, your symptoms as you describe them sound like Vulvodynia. Check out Earth Clinic's page for ideas for how to remedy this. Stretching seems to be the cheapest and easiest for many women. Good luck!

BV Cause Theories
Posted by G (San Diego) on 04/08/2013

Ok. I think im starting to catch on to whats going on. Some people say an antibiotic cures them. We should all look into this. I read somewhere clinical hcl helps (I just read this on this website).

I want to try this. I'm trying to do vaginal yeast medicine to see if this helps anything. Its helping. I'm also eating lots of garlic and onions and mushrooms in my meals.

Ok so what I found out while researching...

A woman had kept going to clinics and doctors trying to figure out what causing her to burn and itch down there. Everywhere told she nothing but a yeast infection. (Not funny, how I have the same experience as her). She didnt believe them.. She went back to her native country (not the United States of course) and her doctors in her native country told she had Strep B.

They gave her a antibiotic and shes cured!!!

Look up strep B is and you'll find some revealing information!! Apparently doctors in the U. S. don't prescribe you a cure for this unless you're pregnant!! I read somewhere Planned Parenthood told a girl she had Strep B. and not to worry. Only worry if you're pregnant. Very Strange if you ask me!!

I'm looking for a cure. Something. Purging by not eating after dark. Excercising as much as I can. Maye I'll frolic in the ocean. I know the ocean has its own benefits.

Let's not give up!

Replied by Joy
(Battleground, Wash)

tea tree oil bar soap, rubba dub dub

I use to put the oil on my finger and rub it up there several times during a shower and then go lay down to die , killed the outbreak of fungus and it was really painful.... take some pain meds first.

The soap worked well and was nice compared to that.

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