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Expert Advice: ‘I Have Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis. How Do I Stop It?’

It's hard to get rid of, but not impossible.

Bacterial vaginosis, a type of vaginal inflammation caused by an imbalance of bacteria, is a very common but treatable condition. It may cause no symptoms or lead to gray or white discharge, itching, or odor, and doctors typically treat it with an antibiotic. But what happens when it keeps coming back, and turns into recurrent bacterial vaginosis?

Unfortunately, recurrent bacterial vaginosis is difficult to get rid of. Antibiotics wipe out the overgrowth of bacteria, but they also wipe out all bacteria. So, the vaginal flora may never return to a healthy state. Before you try out a “natural fix” at home, however, take a look at the advice our expert, Dr. Barbara DePree, has to offer.

Meet our expert.

Barbara DePree, MD, is a gynecologist in private practice and director of Women’s Midlife Services at Michigan’s Holland Hospital. A Certified Menopause Practitioner, she is the founder of, an educational resource for women’s sexual health in perimenopause and beyond. To ask her a question, send an email to

How To Prevent Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis

Q: I have recurrent bacterial vaginosis. My doctor prescribes antibiotics, but I worry about taking them so often. I read that inserting a yogurt-soaked tampon into my vagina for two hours daily can clear the infection. Should I try it?

A: I wouldn’t recommend it. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is common, and causes gray or white discharge with a fishy odor, itching, and burning. Although antibiotics are a potent treatment, they can lose effectiveness over time, and some women find that they cause side effects like diarrhea and stomach upset.

Since the depletion of good vaginal bacteria (lactobacillus) is the root cause of BV, it makes sense to replenish them. Studies have shown a 60 percent reduction in infections in women who eat probiotic-enhanced yogurt daily for 30 days, but there is no evidence to support that placing yogurt in the vagina has the same effect. Instead, I advise taking a probiotic with lactobacillus once daily (like Nature’s Way Pearls, Buy from iHerb, $33.39).

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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