How to use apple cider vinegar for BV

There are a few ways in which people use apple cider vinegar to treat or manage bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Just remember that ACV is unlikely to be the cure to all your ills when it comes to BV or other vaginal imbalances and infections, but everything is worth a try.

Don’t hurt yourself! Always dilute apple cider vinegar when using vaginally.

If you are already using Killing BV treatments, please see more detailed recommendations on how to use ACV to support your treatments or on its own in the support section.

If you are attempting to use ACV to try to cure BV, we recommend you do a full treatment plan, so consistent, regular treatments over a specified period – one go isn’t going to be enough.

Also, read our information on apple cider vinegar so you know the limitations and what evidence exists for its use. If your symptoms persist, please see your healthcare practitioner for advice. ACV can’t possibly cure everything we want it to, so don’t rely too heavily on it. It’s not magic.

Ways people use apple cider vinegar for BV

  • Apple cider vinegar baths
  • Drinking apple cider vinegar
  • Soaked tampons
  • Douches

Apple cider vinegar baths for BV

Dose: a cup of ACV in a bath

The purpose of an ACV bath when treating BV is to change the pH of the vulva, not the vagina.

Bathwater usually doesn’t go inside the vagina during a bath, though some of you will be able to suck bathwater into your vagina and squirt it back out like a douche. Beware very hot water if you do this!

The usual recommendation is one cup of ACV per bath, but keep in mind how big your bath is, how much water you put into it, and how bad your BV is. You may want to add another cup.

Vinegar on its own typically isn’t strong enough to cure BV, but it may work very well in some of you to manage symptoms.

You can also use ACV in a sitz bath, which is basically a shallow bowl or bath that only your bottom and vulva sit in. One cup should then be sufficient.

Using too much ACV will burn and that defeats the purpose. Don’t overdo it!

Drinking apple cider vinegar for BV

Dose: a diluted shot per day

Using ACV as a tonic has a long history in healthcare for humans. We’ve been making vinegar basically forever, using it as a tonic and in food.

Vinegar is made using a process of fermentation with bacteria. This process produces enzymes and other goodies that have a beneficial impact on our tissues when we drink it. Just how beneficial is up for some debate and research, but there is no doubt that A) ACV won’t do you any harm and B) may be helpful in some circumstances.

Many people drink a shot of diluted ACV each day ‘for good health’, but we don’t have any medical recommendations on this. So, do whatever you like! Just don’t overdo it – ACV is quite acidic, so if you suffer from acid reflux, you may want to dilute it or pick another healthful tonic.

There is absolutely no evidence either way that ACV taken orally as a daily tonic can cure BV, but there is also no evidence that it can’t in some people some of the time. Go nuts! ACV orally is, based on the tiny bit of evidence we have so far, sure to benefit your overall health. That counts when you’re treating BV.

Apple cider vinegar douches

Dose: 1/4 cup of ACV mixed with 3/4 cup of warm water twice daily or as needed/recommended

Douching is not generally recommended, but if you’re in a pickle, douching with vinegar isn’t the worst you can do.

Read more about douching and BV here, and just be cautious and don’t overdo it! You can wash all your healthy flora (or whatever’s left of it) away, robbing yourself of the opportunity to get better faster and without more interventions.

A douche is a vaginal rinse using a special silicone douching device, a turkey baster or syringe. Douching with ACV is popular since it has a mild antimicrobial action, may be useful in supporting vaginal cell immunity, and is acidic (pH of 4.2 – healthy vaginal pH is 3.5-4.5).

Your healthy bacteria – lactobacilli – prefer the environment to be more acidic, so an acidic flush with ACVs can help promote the goodies and send the baddies packing.

Apple cider vinegar tampons

Dose: soak a tampon in 1/4 cup of ACV and 3/4 cup water and insert, removing after a couple of hours, replace as necessary

The idea of an ACV tampon is the same as the douche, but in this case, the ACV stays close to the vaginal walls for a much longer period of time. This may be irritating to some of you, in which case remove the tampon and the irritation will subside.

It’s normal for vaginal vinegar applications to sting a little at first, but if irritation persists, rinse the vagina out with warm water to remove any remnants of vinegar.

Be sensible! If you have an ongoing infection and ACV isn’t really helping, find a better treatment. Don’t overdo it, don’t hurt yourself, and see your healthcare provider if things get worse.

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)