A healthcare provider may recommend boric acid suppositories if you get frequent infections.

Boric acid vaginal suppositories are considered safe and sometimes used to treat recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV) when combined with antibiotics. Though you could use boric acid for BV, you shouldn’t do so without talking to a healthcare provider first. Read on to learn more.

What Is Boric Acid?

Boric acid is a white powder derived from the element boron. It has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. You can find boric acid as an ingredient in household cleaners and insecticides—or as a pest killer or laundry stain-remover.1

Boric acid is also available as an OTC suppository for balancing vaginal pH, bacteria, and yeasts when inserted into the vagina. Some boric acid suppositories also claim to control vaginal odor and contain additional ingredients like aloe and tea tree oil.

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve these products. OTC boric acid suppositories are sold as homeopathic products, meaning the FDA has not evaluated their safety and effectiveness.2

OBGYN shows patient an illustration of the vagina
PEAKSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

How Boric Acid Treats Bacterial Vaginosis

BV can be frustrating if you have recurrent infections after antibiotic treatment. Studies show that using boric acid suppositories with antibiotics as a complementary or preventive treatment can help treat some recurrent BV infections.3

Research on how effective boric acid is in treating BV is still limited. Additionally, using boric acid suppositories alone probably won’t cure your infection.4

One review found that combining antibiotic treatment and 300- to 600-milligram (mg) boric acid suppositories twice a week helped treat recurrent BV and yeast infections. Using boric acid suppositories alone was ineffective.5

The exact way boric acid works to help treat BV also isn’t fully understood. One theory is that it can help eliminate bacteria that cause the infection.6

Other BV Treatments

Antibiotics in cream, gel, or pill form are still the most effective BV treatment since they kill the infection.7 Common effective antibiotics for BV treatment are clindamycin or metronidazole. These antibiotics can be safely used to treat pregnant individuals with BV.8

Is It Safe To Use Boric Acid For BV?

For most people, inserting boric acid suppositories into the vagina is safe. You should not use boric acid suppositories if treating BV while pregnant or trying to get pregnant.4

Boric acid is harmful if taken orally. Ingesting 30 grams (g) of boric acid is considered toxic—less than the typical 600mg used in boric acid suppositories.9

There is no evidence that boric acid suppositories can be poisonous when used vaginally. Possible side effects from boric acid vaginal suppositories include mild vaginal irritation or watery discharge.10

Still, always chat with a healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe for you to use a boric acid suppository to help treat your BV.

How To Use Boric Acid for BV

If a healthcare provider says you can use boric acid, you can find OTC boric acid suppositories at your local pharmacy or drugstore. Most boric acid suppositories come in 600-milligram doses that you insert once daily for one to two weeks.9 A healthcare provider may also suggest a different treatment plan based on your case.

To use boric acid if you have BV:11

  • Wash and dry your hands before inserting a boric acid vaginal suppository.
  • With clean, dry fingers—or a provided disposable applicator—insert one capsule into your vagina as far up as comfortable. It can be helpful to lie down with your knees bent or slightly squatting
  • Then throw out your applicator if you used one and rewash your hands.

Some folks also like to wear a pad or panty liner to help collect any discharge from the suppository. You will also want to avoid having sex while using boric acid suppositories and treating BV.11

Bacterial Vaginosis Prevention

Even though BV is the most common vaginal infection, the exact cause isn’t understood beyond bacteria overgrowth. Douching or having new or multiple partners may increase your risk of BV since these activities can disrupt vaginal bacteria. If you’re prone to BV, the following may help prevent infections:12

  • Avoiding douches and scented vaginal products
  • Using condoms and dental dams
  • Wearing cotton underwear

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

See a healthcare provider if you have BV and start treatment immediately. BV symptoms to look for may include:12

  • A strong fishy odor
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Unusual white or gray discharge

You’ll also want to see a healthcare provider if your BV symptoms don’t improve or you experience pelvic pain or a fever.13 Not treating BV can increase your risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Having BV while pregnant can cause premature birth and low-birth weight.7

While BV is not considered an STI, if your partner has a vagina, they may be at risk of BV. They should also visit a healthcare provider to get tested for BV and receive treatment if they have it.12

A Quick Review

Antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment for BV. However, there may be a role for boric acid suppositories, a homeopathic product intended for vaginal use. While the research on boric acid for BV is limited, boric acid suppositories may be part of a treatment plan for repeated infections.

While considered generally safe, these capsules can cause mild skin irritation and be fatal if consumed orally. Pregnant people and those trying to get pregnant should not use boric acid suppositories. Talk to a healthcare provider before using boric acid suppositories for BV.

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