Treating Bacterial Vaginosis with Vaginal Vitamin C

Treating Bacterial Vaginosis with Vaginal Vitamin C
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Vitamin C is pitted head-to-head against antibiotics for bacterial vaginal infections.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Video credit: Daniel Black.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Video credit: Daniel Black.

Doctor's Note

The saturated fat video I mentioned is Bacterial Vaginosis and Diet.

Another way to get vitamin C into the body is by dripping it directly into the vein. Does that actually do anything? See:

For those of us who prefer to get vitamin C the old-fashioned way, through the mouth and in foods rather than supplements, the question becomes What Is the Optimal Vitamin C Intake?

If you’re considering taking oral vitamin C in supplements instead, make sure to watch this video first: Do Vitamin C Supplements Prevent Colds But Cause Kidney Stones?.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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