Why reacidifying the vagina won’t get rid of BV

Women all over the internet are using vinegars, including apple cider vinegar, and lactic acid tablets, to acidify the vagina in the hopes that it will get rid of their bacterial vaginosis. As you may have discovered, this doesn’t really work. It may work if your BV is not caused by a mature biofilm, but you should assume that a biofilm exists so you can get to work on getting rid of it.

A mature Gardnerella vaginalis biofilm is sticky, thick and tenacious, and a couple of squirts around with a bit of apple cider vinegar isn’t going to change this.

We’ve written a book detailing how to get rid of the bacterial biofilm caused by G. vaginalis. You can check it out here.

The vagina is naturally acidic, sitting at a pH of 3.5 to 4.8. A neutral pH is 7.0, the pH of water. Things that can alkalise (de-acidify) the vagina are menstrual blood, fertile cervical fluid (present when you ovulate) and semen, but this is fine: normally, lactobacilli just take this in their stride, as they can survive in that environment.

The other major alkaliser are anaerobic bacteria like G. vaginalis. G. vaginalis excretes a toxin known as vaginolysin which actually kills your good bacteria and your vaginal cells. It’s poisonous, referred to as cytotoxic. Cyto means cell. This is in contrast to popular belief that lactobacilli can’t survive in an alkaline environment.

You cannot get rid of BV simply by acidifying the vagina. You need to treat the biofilm. Learn how to remove the G. vaginalis biofilm, but make sure to get all the information. You need to know what you’re doing when treating BV.  

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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)