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I Had Chronic BV Until I Said Goodbye To Antibiotics & Hello To Holistic Health

BV was the bane of my existence.

Women's Health

Are you familiar with BV? For those of you who don't know, BV, or bacterial vaginosis, is a common vaginal infection that accounts for more than three million cases a year. It occurs when there is a bacterial imbalance within the vagina between helpful good bacteria and harmful bad bacteria. Symptoms include itching, pain, and a foul smelling fishy discharge. If it reoccurs more than four times a year, it receives the apt title of chronic, or recurrent bacterial vaginosis.

While it is more common in women that are sexually active, it is not a sexually transmitted disease and can happen as a result of anything that disrupts the balance of bacteria in your vagina, i.e. douching, dieting, and using some feminine care products.

For the better half (read: worse half) of my adult life, BV made her appearance both known and felt in my life, especially in my sex life. My pH balance was all the way off. As a result, any given month, I remember dreading the six to seven days of my period coming and going, and what it'd leave in its wake. The metallic smell of blood, I could take. But the fishy aroma that would immediately appear in its absence was hella embarrassing.

BV was the bane of my existence and the fact that it seemed to come back just as quickly as it seemed to leave, made me think that something was wrong with me. Because, wasn't it?

My gynecologist thought so too. I would soon come to dread stripping from the waist down to put my feet into stirrups and be examined for the very thing I knew it was, just to do the same song and dance of a 7-day twice a day antibiotic treatment, followed by one to two doses of metronidazole for the yeast infection the antibiotics created.

Mostly, I dreaded it because it always felt like a temporary solution, and never the cure that would be the remedy to my recurring BV forever.

Ultimately, I didn't think that relying on antibiotics as a solution was beneficial and surprisingly, I was right. After a year or two of tried and untrue methods, I spoke with a holistic gynecologist that changed my perspective and understanding of vaginal health for the better. You can avoid certain health issues if you start at the root and begin within. Thus, I decided to work on what I put inside of my body and for the most part, allowed my vagina to do her own thing.

As a result, I can happily say that I haven't been BV-free ever since. (Knock on wood). Peep the 6 essentials below to learn how to curb BV and bacterial imbalances in a holistic way and thus, your pH balance on fleek.

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. The suggestions below are in no way to replace the expertise of a medical doctor, however these methods work for me. )

Get Your Water Intake Looking Right

I've gone from the girl who barely drank two glasses of water a day, to the woman that does three liters a day. Eventually, I hope to get to a whole gallon, but Rome wasn't built in a day. The recommended intake for women is two liters, which is half a gallon. That increases depending on how active you are, and other beverages you drink throughout your day. For example, for every cup of coffee, soda, or juice, try to follow up with a glass of water.

Start with a liter a day, and when that comes naturally, increase it to two liters. The important thing is to begin somewhere. Over time, drinking your recommended daily water intake is going to be the equivalent of breathing – just that easy.

Downloading a water app like my personal favorite, Waterlogged, will help you keep track of how much water you're consuming on any given day and will help you keep up with your goals.

Take A Shot Of Apple Cider Vinegar

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Apple cider vinegar doesn't include The Mother for no reason. The all-in-one vinegar can be used to remedy a lot of things, including sore throats, varicose veins, hyperpigmentation, dandruff, high blood pressure, weight issues, etc. Luckily for us, it can also assist with maintaining the body's pH.

Drink 1-2 shots of apple cider vinegar at the start of your day – be sure to dilute it with some water first. Likewise, you can take an ACV bath with some hot water and Apple Cider Vinegar. Soak for half an hour and consider yourself, balanced. Repeat the remedy up to three times a week.

Incorporate Fermented Foods & Drinks

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In addition to fruits and veggies, adapt to a cleaner diet. Cook more, eat out less. Limit the junk food and reach for something healthy. Nowadays, I have decreased a lot of the sugar that I used to consume. I've learned that you can get your sugar tooth fix in other healthier ways, like the sugar from fruit. One of my favorite fruit indulgences lately are acai smoothie bowls. In addition to that, it's important to incorporate fermented foods and drinks into your daily diet.

Fermented foods and drinks include fermentation of bacteria strains that promote a healthy pH balance, which can do wonders for optimal vaginal care. Examples of fermented foods and drinks include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Miso
  • Pickles
  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha

Implement A Daily Probiotic Supplement

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If you find it difficult to have kimchi, yogurt, or kombucha on the regular, investing in a probiotic supplement to take daily will allow you to get the probiotics that you need without relying too heavily on a diet that might be inconsistent at times. It's always recommended to get your nutrients or benefits from food sources first, but if you can't, that's where probiotics supplements come into play.

Probiotics promotes better gut health, which in turn helps with your pH balance in addition to a wealth of other benefits like preventing and treating UTIs, improving digestion, and boosting your immune system.

Recommended: Dr. Formulated Probiotics Once Daily

Choose Feminine Care Products Wisely

Cleanliness is next to godliness, but the great thing about a vagina is that she is naturally self-cleaning. You don't have to do all this extra stuff to clean her. Use a gentle wash externally, make sure it's completely dry before putting clothes on, and keep it moving. The sprays, the feminine washes, etc can mask themselves as feminine care products, but those products actually tend to be loaded with chemicals and parabens that irritate the vagina and throw off its natural balance.

If you feel like having a spray or a vagina-specific wash is necessary, stick to products with natural ingredients and remember the motto: the less fragrance, the better. The wash below is 100% natural and organic with a list of ingredients I can actually understand – extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, sea buckthorn oil, and beeswax. It's fairly odorless but still cleansing and moisturizing.

Recommended: Medicine Mama's Vmagic Feminine Wash

Treat BV with Boric Acid Suppositories

I know, I know the words "acid" and "suppositories" do not bring the best imagery to mind, but I promise you your vaginal health will love you for this addition to your self-care routine. Initially, I believed that it could only be used during an infection, but was told by my gyno to consider adding it to my routine on Sundays for maintenance. As it turns out, boric acid has been used to treat vaginal infections like candida and BV for hundreds of years. And since I added it to my lifestyle as a means of self-care, keeping up with it is easy.

I just simply insert it with a disposable applicator, and put on a pantyliner for the night, and call it a day. It's been a beautiful and seemingly effortless way to maintain my pH balance and restore the glory of my vaginal health.

Recommended:NutraBlast Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories

Your vagina isn't designed to smell like roses, but it isn't designed to smell like a fish market either. Luckily, by switching up your lifestyle in exchange for some of the aforementioned holistic health habits, your vagina will be feeling and smelling better than ever. No infection zone.

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Originally published on December 17, 2017

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

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And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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