While douching is generally discouraged as non-helpful at best or counter-productive at worst, I remember reading a study that found washing the vagina with iodine mostly eliminates all bacteria - desirable and undesirable - but that the beneficial lacto-bacteria are the first to repopulate the cavity.
Quotes and links to two studies about this approach are below.
I recall that when I was looking into the matter, I noticed that Walmart's store brand of iodine wash has that chemical in spermicide that some women are sensitive to. The adjacent bottle of brand-name iodine (Betadine?) doesn't have that chemical. Searching now, it must've been Nonoxynol-9 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonoxynol-9 / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Povidone-iodine
I'll look at my pictures... (EDIT: maybe it's been reformulated: "Active Ingredient: Povidone-iodine, 10%; Inactive ingredients: C12-13, PARETH-9, citric acid, disodium phosphate, glycerin, sodium hydroxide, water" - https://www.walmart.com/ip/Equate-First-Aid-Antiseptic-8-fl-...
This one has Nonoxynol-9: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Betadine-skin-cleanser/46068801
Betadine without Nonoxynol-9: Active Ingredients: Povidone-Iodine (10%) (1% Available Iodine). Purpose: First Aid Antiseptic. Inactive Ingredients: Pareth 25-8, Purified Water, Sodium Hydroxide. - https://www.walmart.com/ip/Betadine-Solution-8-fl-oz/1732500... /EDIT)
tl/dr: use iodine to wipe out all bacteria, so the lactic-acid producing bacteria can repopulate the area.
Two studies that seem to support using iodine washes to take out all the bacteria:
" [...] Contrary to that the lactobacilli counts from patients treated with povidone iodine suppositories decreased after the first week but increased in the second one. Potentially pathogenic germs, e.g. Gardnerella, Bacteroides and Enterobacteria were reduced in a higher extent and with a longer lasting effect after treatment with povidone iodine suppositories than with capsules containing lactobacilli. The results of this study show that native lactobacilli rapidly re-colonize after the antiseptic treatment with povidone iodine. Therefore, there is no need to use lactobacilli in addition." - Efficacy of Povidone-Iodine Vaginal Suppositories in the Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis - https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/57731
"Repeated vaginal washings with 3% H2O2, 15% NaCl and 10% providone iodine were initiated. At the end of each washing, vaginal walls were thoroughly cleaned up with a small gauze. After 10 days of treatment the odor and the vaginal discharge had ceased and 12 months later no relapse had occurred" - Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis in a Virgin Adolescent: A New Method of Treatment - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s15010-002-2001-9
Things we’ve tried:
- boric acid suppositories (this helps but the BV always comes back)
- hydrogen peroxide douche (no results)
- a couple essential oil mixtures (no results)
- antibiotics (BV comes back)
Through research it seems the problem may be biofilms. You kill all the bacteria except those hiding in the biofilms and so they just repopulate.
A cursory google shows iodine may bust biofilms, so this May be worth a try.
Another factor to look at is the person’s body temperature. People who are a few degrees below normal supposedly have different intestinal bacteria than people who have a normal body temperature.
There are unique carbohydrates in medicinal mushrooms (uhm... “polysaccharides, glycoproteins and proteoglycans“) and cranberries (D-Mannose) that might be useful to you too...
The science isn't conclusive but there are ~ zero negative side effects, so it's a good expected value.
I don’t grow them as I am not in the right zone, but I have read that there are many herbs that does this function. Plus..Ayurveda takes a whole systems approach and includes dietary changes and lifestyle tips. Most of it was targeted towards menopausal and perimenopausal women who go through the changes and will affect whole body pH. The kind of herbs depends on the individual’s constitution.
I am pretty sure TCM has similar protocols for women’s health but the names were not familiar to me and I didn’t feel confident enough to enquire in a language that I wasn’t fluent in..
Is boric acid protocol for BV transplanted vaginal microbiome be considered ‘science’?
(Nice. The downvoting begins. And I haven’t even started. What’s the point? You guys please continue to enjoy talking amongst yourselves about scientific ways to deal with vaginal pH.)
Please note that I'm not saying that Ayurveda or TMC doesn't contain things that work. I'm just saying that a lot of those things haven't seen any proper testing done, so we don't know whether they work better than a placebo, or even whether they are safe, and of the things we did test, few worked particularly well.
Boric acid for example has been studied and found to work okay: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21774671
Edit: I switched to what looks like a better article instead of https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/09/transplanting-poop-c.... Hopefully the BBC is a little more sobering.
"Conceptual Design of a Universal Donor Screening Approach for Vaginal Microbiota Transplant",
According to Wikipedia, fecal transplant was used as far back as 4th century China, with the modern treatment dating back to 1958. A 2013 study on the procedure was stopped early due to the high effectivness (81% cured after 1 procedure, 90% cured after 2).
A healthy vagina is mildly acidic and lactic acid suppositories were often used but it’s benefits were iffy. If you went back to sex without condoms or multiple partners(male or female) BV will return. It flares in the absence of sufficient acidity in the vaginal environment..as it were..
BV is caused by a cocktail of bacteria and we have masses of bacterial colonies..good and bad..in our bodies.
The imbalance occurs due to moving them around. Abstaining from sex will often rebalance or getting rid of all bacteria and repopulating with good bacteria will work.
Many times, prevention is better than cure. This isn’t a STD or a terminal condition. BV just needs education and good sexual hygiene. I remain unimpressed by science’s efforts to moderate female sexual organs.
BV = bacterial vaginosis
That iron retards problematic flora needs some citation.
Bacteria will likely flourish more in an iron rich environment. But BV is different kinds of bacteria. At the end of the day, it’s a ratio. If the lactic acid strains become fewer than the pH changes to more alkaline. Sperm and blood increase the alkaline levels by diluting the acid environment of the vagina.
The discharge makes our vagina a self cleaning tube. It is a flexible elastic tube. The walls are made of mucous membrane. Only part of it is visible genitalia. If we don’t have discharge, we can’t flush out harmful bacteria and other ickies. The discharge is also a lubricant.
Every time there is intercourse and co mingling of body fluids, there is a chance of BV. It’s not a sexually transmitted disease but more partners = more chance for BV. Or disruption of vaginal Ph. It is less likely to have BV if you have never had sex or you are abstaining. Altho’ it is possible. (Diff topic)
You can pick up BV even with condoms. Anything that alters the vaginal Ph has an effect on chances of BV flares.
But yeah: every interface between inside and outside of the human body is a great place to look for microbiome etiology.
Based on what I've read in the news about artificial insemination outcomes using sperm sourced from banks, there's just enough financial incentive for poor people to donate, and they lie in the poorly vetted paperwork about their health, education, background, etc.
Edit: I found what looks like a better article, so have changed the URL from https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/09/transplanting-poop-c.... Hopefully the BBC is a little more sobering.
Were the article authors attempting to be funny, or were they seriously going for the worst-sounding opening paragraph to an article on fecal and vaginal microbiota transplants?
But you're right, I completely slipped into Reddit snark mode rather than constructive HN mode.
> "If they work as researchers hypothesize, they could rub out many common problems at once. And based on what we know of vaginas, they could be far less messy than transplants involving poop."
I was confused throughout, doubting my own sense of humour rather than think that someone writing for Ars could swing and miss so much!