Can Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories Treat Yeast Infections or BV? Dealing with a chronic vaginal health issue, like a seemingly endless stream of yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis (BV), can be an emotional and physical burden. You’re in pain, you’re stressed, you just want it to go away. We get it!

When conventional treatments don’t seem to be working—or, worse, you feel like your doctor is downplaying your symptoms—it’s understandable if you’re tempted to do a little digging, just in case there’s a potential remedy out there you haven’t tried yet. So you search and scroll, and inevitably stumble across mentions of boric acid suppositories online, because plenty of people with vaginas swear by them.

For decades, boric acid has been touted as an alternative treatment for various vaginal health issues, but the messaging around it is a little confusing.1 Is boric acid really a more “natural” approach to getting rid of BV? Is it worth trying when standard yeast infection treatments have failed? Can it really nuke that strong fishy smell? Is it even safe to put this stuff in your vagina?

There’s plenty of debate, even among doctors, about whether boric acid suppositories can cure certain vaginal infections. So we reached out to various experts and read through the limited research; unsurprisingly, the answers to these questions aren’t totally cut and dry. Here’s what you should know if your vagina is struggling, you’ve gone down one-too-many AskReddit rabbit holes, and you’re desperate for relief.

Boric acid is a compound that has mild antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

Boric acid is partially derived from borax, “which you may be familiar with as a very strong and effective home-cleaning product,” Brittany Merrifield, MD, an ob-gyn at Corewell Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan says.

Can Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories Treat Yeast Infections or BV?

It’s a “compound that has been used for hundreds of years for various purposes,” including as an antiseptic and insecticide, often in the form of a powder, Jonathan Schaffir, MD, an ob-gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. Yep, boric acid is even used as a roach poison.

Why would anyone want to put boric acid in their vagina?

People didn’t just try this for fun—there’s a history of using boric acid to treat certain vaginal health issues. “In the old days, we used to have to go to a compounding pharmacy and ask them to make it up in little capsules to place in the vagina,” Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine, tells SELF.1 Now, she says there are many boric acid care products readily available over the counter at local drugstores.

But there’s a reason these vaginal suppositories are no longer viewed as a go-to remedy. “In the ‘50s and ‘60s, boric acid was a very common way to treat chronic vaginitis [inflammation or infection of the vagina] because they didn’t have a lot of options,” Lauren Streicher, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells SELF. “Now, we have all these things in the toolbox that work much, much better.” If you’ve ever had a run-of-the-mill yeast infection, you know one little pill, Diflucan (fluconazole), often does the trick. For BV, a week of antibiotics (usually metronidazole) is effective for most people.

Boric acid suppositories are typically seen as a last-ditch effort for people who are dealing with treatment-resistant or recurrent yeast infections or BV, along with a persistent cycle of microbial imbalances that can cause things to feel a little “off,” say, in the form of vaginal odor or discharge that looks different in texture or color than your usual. When you regularly need to use a lot of medication that can impact your vaginal flora—which can be an annoying side effect of standard oral and topical antibiotics and antifungals—you have a higher risk of developing even more vaginal issues because that microbial balance is so finicky, Dr. Merrifield says.3 “The desperation of trying to cure treatment-resistant yeast and BV infections is a common reason women turn to boric acid,” she adds.

Does boric acid cure yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis?

Here’s where the debate starts. At baseline, the idea behind using boric acid to treat certain vaginal health issues is “quite sound,” Dr. Minkin says. “In the vagina, acid is good,” she explains. “When the vagina becomes less acidic—like around your period or, for postmenopausal women, when the vagina gets dry—the ‘good guy’ bacteria Lactobacilli don’t thrive there.”3

That less-acidic environment allows not-so-ideal organisms to grow, which can eventually lead to issues like vaginitis, Dr. Minkin says. Boric acid, she explains, may help acidify the vagina again, lowering the risk of harmful organisms setting up shop down there.

Researchers have explored whether using boric acid to treat yeast infections and BV—typically in instances where people didn’t respond to standard treatment and had recurring infections—but the studies are usually small and the results are pretty mixed.

In one observational study published in 2021, 93 people with recurrent BV were treated with oral antibiotics twice a day for a week and a boric acid vaginal suppository for a month. The researchers found that all but one participant had no symptoms during a follow-up visit after about 32 days. By six months, about 70% of the participants who adhered to the maintenance phase of the study stayed in remission, while 30% relapsed with symptoms. “Overall, 20 women who were compliant and returned for follow-up remained BV-free for one year and were externally grateful,” the study authors noted, adding that vaginal boric acid “was extremely well-tolerated despite nightly use for 30 days.”

And in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers randomly assigned 106 women with BV or a yeast infection a boric acid gel or insert as treatment. After seven nights of use, the researchers found that 59% of the people with BV who used the insert were cured, while 50% of those who used the gel were also successfully treated. The researchers also discovered that 92% of people with a yeast infection who used the insert were cured, while 81% of those who used the gel got better. Both products were considered “safe and well-tolerated,” although the study authors noted that nearly 10% of the participants experienced vaginal burning.

So, it seems to work well for some people and not others. Boric acid usually helps improve odors associated with vaginal infections, Dr. Merrifield notes, but there’s not enough research to show that it can “clear” the infection completely for everyone. She recommends using it in conjunction with other proven medications, but only for treatment-resistant cases. “Even in these cases, its efficacy is not well supported,” she adds.

“I’m not in the boric acid camp,” Dr. Streicher agrees. “You’re looking at failure rates of up to 50% in some studies.”

But some ob-gyns are open to the idea of trying it, especially if a patient’s quality of life is being seriously affected by their condition. “I often recommend women—particularly those who have been bothered by repeat vaginitis—to try to acidify the vagina on a regular basis, to see if that helps,” Dr. Minkin says. “And boric acid capsules in the vagina can help do just that.”

Is it safe to put boric acid in your vagina, and should you even bother?

Dr. Schaffir says boric acid is “safe to use” because it’s not absorbed through the vaginal walls, but the risk of unpleasant side effects is real. Anecdotally, people tend to deal with lots of discharge while using the suppositories, which can be a bit of a drag.

“It is acidic and can be very irritating. Many women who use it for long periods note burning and inflammation, which is primarily why it is not recommended as a first-line agent,” Dr. Schaffir says. “Acidifying the vagina may also be accomplished with low-pH vaginal gels and moisturizers that may be less irritating.”

You’re also limited in how long you should ideally use it. Dr. Merrifield recommends inserting boric acid vaginal suppositories for no longer than 30 days to avoid making your vagina super angry.

And, because we all need this reminder sometimes, the internet can be misleading when you’re feeling super stressed about a health issue that just won’t quit. Dr. Schaffir cautions against diagnosing yourself and using boric acid in your vagina without a proper diagnosis first. “Many women with symptoms of discharge or vaginal irritation may think they have yeast or BV when the problem is actually something else, like a chemical reaction or an STD,” he says, “and use of boric acid may then make the problem worse.”

It’s “important to have a reliable diagnosis,” he stresses, but don’t feel like you just have to suffer through it either. Talk to an ob-gyn—and be as honest as you can, especially if your symptoms are also starting to affect your mental health. If your doctor seems dismissive, try to get a second opinion if you can. (Planned Parenthood and the ACOG have directories that narrow your search by a doctor’s location and specialty.) They probably won’t recommend boric acid as a first-line treatment, but they can prescribe medications that may work better and faster.

And if those don’t work, or your symptoms always seem to come back, they can run tests to make sure you have the right diagnosis and guide you through the process of what to do next. Even if you decide together that boric acid is worth a try, having an expert on standby can help ensure you’re doing everything safely.

You May Also Like

How Luna Came Full Circle From K-pop Idol to Playing One on Broadway

How Luna Came Full Circle From K-pop Idol to Playing One on…

The 5 Best Exercises To Boost Your Immune System

The 5 Best Exercises To Boost Your Immune System – We all…

4 Situations That Make You Tip More In a Restaurant

4 Situations That Make You Tip More In a Restaurant – The…

7 Best Brain Health Boosting Foods To Buy at Trader Joe’s, According to an RD

You bet dark chocolate made the cut.