Vaginitis is the name of a group of disorders that cause the vagina or vulva to become irritated or inflamed. The disorders include bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, as well as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, and trichomoniasis.

Symptoms vary depending on your condition, but many of them generally share abnormal vaginal discharge, including visual changes to the discharge or a foul odor; vaginal itching or burning, including when you urinate; or visual changes to the exterior of the vagina or vulva, including redness, swelling, lesions, or bumps.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common form of vaginitis. While bacterial vaginosis is not sexually transmitted, it is highly linked to starting sex with a new partner.

Boric acid is one type of borate with the addition of oxygen and hydrogen. It is commonly used in a vaginal suppository to treat various vaginal disorders.

Boric acid derives from boron (B), the fifth element on the periodic table. Boron is found widely in nature, usually in the form of borates–salts or esters that contain boron.

Because borates are naturally released into our water and soil, boron is found in small amounts in many foods including fruits, nuts, and grains. Humans consume an average of 1.2 mg of boron a day through their diet (World Health Organization, 1998).

Boric acid has been used to treat vaginal infections for over a century! A review in the Journal of Women’s Health looked at 14 studies of boric acid in the treatment of chronic yeast infections. The study found that boric acid was very effective in treating chronic yeast infections, as well as being generally safe and affordable (Iavazzo et al, 2011).

When you get a diagnosis of BV, the typical first-line treatment is to use an antibiotic. However, BV has a high likelihood of recurrence; one review found that 15-30% of BV cases recur within 3 months, and 52% cases will recur within 7 years (Wilson, 2004).

While not all infections can be prevented, there are ways you may be able to lower your risk. Practices like wearing breathable underwear, using condoms during sex, consuming probiotics, and managing stress may help prevent recurring BV.

Current data states that boric acid is 77-88% effective in the treatment of BV.

When vaginal pH is too high—that is, too basic or alkaline—it may encourage the growth of bacteria associated with BV. As a result, maintaining a vaginal pH that’s slightly acidic may help prevent reinfection.