Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) & UTI’s

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NATURAL Solutions

Have you experienced any of these symptoms?

Vaginal discharge: White, dull gray or greenish and/or foamy





Discomfort in the vaginal area

Smell after sex

Sometimes vaginal pain

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of abnormal discharge in women. BV is even more common than thrush and affects approximately 1 in 10 women during their lifetime.

NOTE: Abnormal discharge can be an indicator of bacterial vaginosis but not of a UTI; UTIs do not cause gray or white discharge. A fishy or foul odor is often one of the symptoms of BV that women notice first. While UTIs can change the odor of your urine, UTIs are not associated with a fishy smell.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are both common and unpleasant infections that many women deal with at least once in their life. While 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with BV at some point (and about 80% of those women will be diagnosed more than once), around half of all women will experience a UTI at least once.

Both BV and UTIs can cause uncomfortable symptoms, but each comes with some distinct sensations and symptoms that can help you determine which you are being impacted by. They also differ in regard to what causes the infection and how it can be treated. Read on to find out all about what makes BV and UTIs unique and how you can tell the difference between symptoms caused by each.

Bacterial Vaginosis occurs when the normal bacteria present in the vagina become out of balance. In our gut, we want a large diversity of bacteria, however in the vagina it is normal for one species, Lactobacilli, to be the predominant species.

Vaginal bacteria are part of the vaginal immune system. When vaginal bacteria become out of balance, other infections can occur, and you become at a greater risk of contracting an STI. To maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome, it is necessary to maintain the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of the vagina. Imbalanced vaginal microbiome can also contribute to infertility in some women.

The medical community is having the wrong conversation about bacterial vaginosis. BV is talked about as an isolated gynecological problem and not as an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome – which can be the result of a larger, system-wide imbalance in a woman’s total ecosystem. But BV is annoying, sometimes uncomfortable, and also carries some risks. So what’s a gal to do?

The answer lies in understanding the underlying cause of BV – disruption in the vaginal microbiome – and removing the triggers and causes of that. These include diet, stress, and what goes in there – from toxins in our tampons to who we’re having sex with – and what happens to the greater environment of the body, for example, with antibiotics we might use for infections in general (or that show up in the food chain!).

What Symptoms are Unique to BV?

Bacterial vaginosis often comes with a set of symptoms that do not occur with a UTI. Symptoms that are caused by BV but are not a UTI include:

  • A greysh-white discharge
    Abnormal discharge can be an indicator of bacterial vaginosis but not of a UTI; UTIs do not cause gray or white discharge.
  • A fishy or foul odor
    A fishy or foul odor is often one of the symptoms of BV that women notice first. While UTIs can change the odor of your urine, UTIs are not associated with a fishy smell.
  • Pain or itching in or around the vagina
    Bacterial vaginosis can be quite uncomfortable; it is often associated with pain, itching, and burning in or around the vagina. While UTIs can cause pelvic discomfort or pain, their list of symptoms does not include itching or pain in the vagina.

What Symptoms are Unique to UTIs?

Like bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections generally present with some symptoms that set them apart from other vaginal infections. Symptoms that are caused by UTIs but not BV include:

  • Frequent urination
    Frequent urination or the feeling of having to urinate even when your bladder is empty is extremely common when a UTI is present but is not associated with BV in any way.
  • Back or abdominal pain, pressure, or cramping
    Depending on which part of the urinary tract is infected you may be more or less likely to experience lower back or abdominal pain when you have a UTI. If you have BV you likely won’t experience abdominal or back pain unless you have another infection or problem at the same time.
  • Blood in the urine
    Bleeding is not a symptom of BV. If you notice blood in your urine your doctor will likely test to see if you have a UTI.
  • Fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting
    If you have a kidney infection (a type of urinary tract infection,) you may experience symptoms like fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. If you have BV you will not experience these symptoms unless you have a different problem that is also happening at the same time.

What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?

BV is the result of disruption in the body’s local (vaginal) or broader microbial (usually gut) ecosystem. It can be due to local disruptions in the vaginal ecosystem, or more global exposures in the body that in turn affect vaginal ecology… we’re referring to GUT HEALTH.

Common causes of general and local ecosystem disruption include:

Gut dysbiosis

High sugar diet, alcohol consumption, or poorly controlled blood sugar

Exposure to synthetic chemicals and fragrances that upset beneficial bacteria or vaginal pH

Antibiotic use


Changes in the vaginal pH that can happen with age

Changes in the vaginal pH as a result of exposure to semen or saliva from oral sex (women in heterosexual and same sex relationships are therefore both susceptible and can ‘ping-pong’ the infection between partners).

Flares of bacterial vaginosis

Many women experience frequent flares of bacterial vaginosis, which can be disheartening because the discharge and odor can have an effect on romantic and sexual relationships, as well as self esteem. Remember that this problem is common for many women, and you can make quite a few diet and lifestyle changes to reduce the chances of flares.

These are a few of the reasons that the vaginal microbiome can become out of balance and flares in BV may occur:

  • changes to estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle can affect the pH of the vagina
  • changes in estrogen levels throughout a woman’s reproductive life, such as adolescence, perimenopause and menopause
  • after having a period, especially if it’s a long period
  • a high sugar diet and blood glucose fluctuations
  • washing the vagina with antibacterial soap or douching
  • sex, especially with new partners
  • using lubricants during sex
  • using flavored, scented, or colored condoms

Tips for reducing flare ups:

  • hygiene is an important first step to reducing flares, but it’s important not to overdo the cleanliness with antibacterial products. Antibacterial soaps and douches can kill of the good bacteria as well as the bad, and create an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina.
  • keep track of the flares to see what is likely to be causing them. Does BV occur every month at the same time, or does it reoccur after a big night of drinking?
  • avoid eating foods that are high in refined sugar such as juices, packaged foods, sauces, sweetened yoghurts and breakfast cereals
  • change tampons regularly, or switch to pads until the BV has been gone for 6 months
  • avoid condoms or lubricants that have colorings, flavors, or fragrances
  • seek help from a natural doctor if your menstrual cycle is irregular, if the flares in BV occur at the same time every month, or if you suffer from other symptoms during your period
  • smoking is a risk factor for BV, so reduce your smoking or quit

The Unintended Consequences of Conventional Treatments

The conventional treatment for bacterial vaginosis is the antibiotic metronidazole, which can be taken orally or applied topically to the vagina, or clindamycin.

A sample of the side-effects that can occur with metronidazole include:

Disturbances of the gut such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain

Inflamed and sore mouth

Loss of appetite

Severe swelling of lips, face or tongue (angioedema)




Shaky movements and unsteady walk (ataxia)

Skin rashes or itching

Pain in the muscles or joints

Darkening of the urine

Visual disturbances


Depressed mood


Liver disorders

Disorder of the peripheral nerves called peripheral neuropathy that causes weakness and numbness (on prolonged or intensive therapy)

Decrease in the number of white blood cells in the blood (leucopenia)


How to Prevent & Treat BV Naturally

Lifestyle choices and overall health are major factors in helping prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis because they are the steps that restore healthy vaginal ecology – in other words, they get to the Root Causes of dysbiosis.

Recently, poor nutrition has been added to the list of risk factors. You appear more likely to get bacterial vaginosis if you have lower levels circulating in your bloodstream of phytonutrients, like vitamin C and beta-carotene, indicating a lower intake of fruits and vegetables.

“In recent years,” though, “the field of nutrition has shifted toward examining overall dietary scores, as opposed to single nutrients, because it has become recognized that nutrients are not consumed in isolation, that individuals consuming one health-promoting nutrient also tend to consume many others, and that the specific source of nutrients may be of importance.” What a concept!

So, nutrient-rich food indexes have been devised to enable folks to get the most nutrients out of their calories. And the more nutrient-rich one’s diet, the lower one’s apparent risk for bacterial vaginosis.

Why, though?  Well, it’s thought that high fat intake—particularly saturated fat, which comes mostly from like, dairy, doughnuts, and chicken in this country—may increase vaginal pH, thereby increasing the risk of bacterial vaginosis. (yes… I said: CHICKEN)

A study published in 1999 raised the exciting possibility that “cheap, simple, innocuous, and ubiquitous vitamin C supplements could prevent [a condition known as] pre-eclampsia.” But, a decade of research later, we realized that was merely a false hope, and that vitamin C supplements appear to play little role in women’s health.

But, they’re talking about oral vitamin C, not vaginal vitamin C, which has been found to be an effective treatment for bacterial vaginosis—an all-too-common gynecological disorder characterized by a fishy-smelling, watery-gray discharge.

Bacterial vaginosis “can best be described as an ‘ecological disaster’ of the vaginal microflora.” The normal lactobacillus-type good bacteria get displaced by an army of bad bacteria. Probiotics may help, repopulating with good bacteria, but the reason the bad bacteria took over in the first place was that the pH was off.

I’ve talked about the role diet may play in the development of this condition. For example, “saturated fat [intake] may increase vaginal pH,” allowing for the growth of undesirables. So, why not try to re-acidify the vagina with ascorbic acid, otherwise known as vitamin C? Now, this isn’t just plain vitamin C tablets, but specially formulated “silicon-coated” supplements that release vitamin C slowly, so as to not to be irritating. How well do they work? 100 women suffering from the condition split into two groups, and the vaginal vitamin C beat out placebo.

But how does vitamin C compare to the conventional therapy, an antibiotic gel? This is an important question. “Although perceived as a mild medical problem,” bacterial vaginosis may increase the risk of several gynecological complications, including problems during pregnancy, where you want to avoid taking drugs whenever possible.

The vitamin C appeared to work as effectively as the antibiotic. And so, especially like in the first trimester when you really don’t want to be putting drugs up there, vitamin C can really help. And, for women with recurrent episodes, using the vitamin C for six days after each cycle appears to cut “the risk of recurrence” in half.

To help with BV prevention, 250 mg vitamin C should be used once daily vaginally for six days after your period. While silicone-coated vitamin C is not available in the US, enteric-coated vitamin C is available in the US and can be used in the same way

Here are the key steps to restoring your vaginal ecology:

Balance your blood sugar with a whole food plant based diet

Restore a healthy Microbiome – get your gut imbalance fixed naturally

Have smart Sex!

Don’t Douche and avoid all scented products… (soaps, toilet paper, menstrual products, etc.)

Balance your hormones naturally

A Natural BV Protocol

There are a variety of all-natural botanical interventions that can be effective against BV.

Here’s my suggested daily protocol:

You’ll want to follow this for one month, and avoid sex (all forms) during this time:

    1. Make sure you’re getting zinc (30 mg/day),
    2. Vitamin E (400 IU/day),
    3. and vitamin A (up to 10,000 units/day, except in pregnancy when only up to what’s in your prenatal vitamin) in your diet
    4. A good multivitamin – these are essential for healing the vaginal tissue that gets irritated and inflamed in BV infections.
    5. Take 1 capsule of a good probiotic that is dairy free
    6. Each morning use a natural suppository of 250mg (enteric coated) of vitamin C for 6 days after your period.
    7. Eat a plant based diet (avoiding all saturated fats, added sugars, dairy, and chicken) or at the least eat a paleo-ish diet and avoid chicken!
    8. Use our UTI SUPPORT for at least 8 weeks in a row consistently for best results.

The key to successful natural treatment? Remember that optimal vaginal ecology depends on your whole-body ecology. So focus on nutrition (balanced blood sugar), gut health, hormonal and vaginal health!


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