Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an inflammation of the vagina caused by an overgrowth of natural vaginal bacteria, disrupting the delicate pH of the vagina. It is not sexually transmitted, nor is it usually dangerous. However, it can be an unpleasant condition, as the primary symptoms include a ‘fishy’ vaginal odor, itching, and unusual discharge – though of course, some women have no symptoms at all. There are several different methods which people use to treat BV, and this article will explain some of the medications that are used to deal with BV, and what the pros and cons of each are.
It’s likely that if you are diagnosed with BV by a doctor, they will prescribe you a course of antibiotics. There are many types and brand names of antibiotics, but they all work in pretty much the same way: they get rid of some of the bacteria that are causing the infection. Popular antibiotics prescribed for BV include clindamycin, metronidazole, and tinidazole.
The best thing about antibiotics for BV is that they work effectively: in over 80% of cases, they cure the infection with a single course. The downside of antibiotics is the side effects that they produce in some people, such as nausea and vomiting, though many people suffer no negative effects while taking antibiotics. Some doctors will prescribe oral antibiotics, which are simply tablets that you take once or twice a day. However, some offer the option of taking your medication vaginally, in the form of a cream, gel or suppository.
Many women prefer the increased convenience of taking medication orally and do not know how to insert medication vaginally. This isn’t something you should worry about, as the cream or gel will come with an applicator, making it easy to use. Vaginal medicines are a lot less likely to cause body-wide side effects like nausea and vomiting, so are something to look into if you’ve had bad experiences with antibiotics in the past.
While going to the GP and getting a prescription for antibiotics is usually the most effective way to fight BV, some people prefer to use the over-the-counter remedies and medications that are also available. Some people find relief with the use of povidone-iodine, more commonly known as Betadine. When used as a feminine wash, it inhibits fungal growth and reduces discomfort. The downside is that sometimes women can have allergic reactions to the wash.
The most common remedy that you can freely buy is a vaginal gel, such as Canesbalance. There are other brands available, but this is one of the most popular. The gel is packaged in single-use applicators for easy application, and it aims to restore the pH balance of the vagina. While this remedy may save you a doctor’s visit and so is appealing to those who have had BV before and know the symptoms well, it is less good for those who have not had BV before as they may not be able to tell the difference between BV and other related conditions – and if they are wrong, the gel will not be effective.
We have seen that there are multiple medications available to treat bacterial vaginosis, the most effective of which are prescription antibiotics, although these can have side effects. There are also over-the-counter remedies, which are less certain although easier to obtain.