Bacterial vaginosis is a typically benign but unpleasant condition caused by an unhealthy overgrowth of bacteria in your vagina. Although bacterial vaginosis is most commonly treated with prescription medications to promote flora balance, researchers are currently investigating the efficacy of vitamin C in helping to restore levels of healthy bacteria. As of 2011, research findings are divided on conclusions as to whether vitamin C offers an effective means of treatment, and there is not sufficient evidence to indicate that supplemental vitamin C has any effect on the condition. If you experience persistent bacterial vaginosis or intend to add a vitamin C supplement to your diet, consult your physician.
Bacterial vaginosis is an inflammation of your vagina caused by an imbalance in naturally occurring vaginal bacteria. Several organisms exist in your vagina, and in bacterial vaginosis there is an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria in relationship to lactobacilli bacteria. Although bacterial vaginosis can affect you across your life span, it most commonly occurs among women of reproductive age. As of 2011, the exact cause of bacterial vaginosis remains unclear; however, unprotected sex and frequent douching are known risk factors. Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include vaginal discharge, odor, itching and irritation, pain during intercourse and burning sensations when urinating.
Treatment for bacterial vaginosis can involve both drug and nutritional therapies to restore a healthy bacterial balance. Drugs commonly used for the condition include metronidazole, tinidazole and clindamycin, all of which can only be procured with a prescription from your doctor. Although medications are typically effective in relieving symptoms and promoting the presence of healthy bacteria, recurrence is common. Self-help remedies may be effective in preventing recurrence, and typically involve a diet that emphasizes foods with lactobacilli, such as yogurt.
Although vitamin C has been theorized to help treat bacterial vaginosis, existing research presents mixed findings. A study published in the journal “Obstetrics and Gynecology” in November 2005 examined the relationship between vitamin C intake, bacterial vaginosis and preterm labor, and found no evidence for an association between vitamin C and the condition. However, a report released in 2011 by a team of researchers in Switzerland concluded that vitamin C vaginal suppositories helped to manage and treat bacterial vaginosis. The researchers observed a cure rate of 86.3 percent among women who received vitamin C treatment, as opposed to a 7.6 percent cure rate among women administered a placebo.
Research on the relationship between bacterial vaginosis and vitamin C remains experimental, and as of 2011 there is no evidence to suggest that vitamin C taken as an oral supplement is effective in treating or providing relief for the condition. Many factors can influence the overgrowth of vaginal bacteria. Following a healthy diet that promotes the balance of vaginal flora plays an important role in maintaining your vaginal health and helping to prevent related conditions, such as vaginal yeast infection and vaginitis. Although there are few complications associated with bacterial vaginosis, if the condition becomes chronic it can contribute to the risk of preterm birth if you are pregnant, and increase your vulnerability to contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
- Mayo Clinic: Bacterial Vaginosis
- "Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology"; Bacterial Vaginosis Diagnosed at the First Antenatal Visit Better Predicts Preterm Labour than Diagnosis Later in Pregnancy; J. Shoeman et al.; November 2005
- "Arzneimittel-Forschung"; Efficacy of Vitamin C Vaginal Tablets in the Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis: a Randomised, Double Blind, Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial; E.E. Peterson et al.; 2011
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
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