JUST when we thought we saw all the creative things women are inserting in their vaginas to cure yeast infections — garlic cloves, marijuana, yoghurt, herbal sticks, balls and douches — here comes boric acid suppositories.
You've probably seen them being sold by your friendly workplace yoni guru as a cure for vaginal odour, burning, itching, excess discharge, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, dryness or other conditions that you should definitely talk to your gynaecologist about. What you've probably not seen, however, is the warning on the label that you should not use the product unless so instructed by a doctor.
Consultant ObGyn Dr Kimberly Martin tells All Woman that boric acid is not usually the first line of treatment for simple gynaecological nuisances such as yeast infections.
“Boric acid has mild antifungal actions and is used vaginally in cases where women have recurrent yeast infections,” she said. “Most cases of yeast infections (vaginal candidiasis) are caused by a yeast species called candida albicans, which usually responds to the routine antifungal medication prescribed by your doctor. A small number of cases are caused by non-albicans or atypical candida species. These species will less likely respond to the usual meds, and in these cases boric acid may be prescribed to be used intravaginally.”
Boric acid itself can be quite a good thing for the vagina, but like any other medication it must be taken in the correct dose and the right way.
“Boric acid contains probiotics or good bacteria, as well as antioxidants for replenished and balanced normal vaginal flora and pH,” she pointed out. “They are used vaginally and are usually safe when properly prescribed, but boric acid can be poisonous if ingested and is not to be used orally.”
She also highlighted the need for proper application and warned that boric acid suppositories should be kept out of children's reach.
“Some common side effects of boric acid are a watery discharge, redness and mild discomfort,” she noted. “But other side effects such as allergic reactions, vaginal burning or worsening symptoms may occur, in which patients should seek immediate medical help.”
Dr Martin assured women that the symptoms of a yeast infection — vaginal or vulvar burning or itching, white thick cottage cheese appearing discharge and swelling of the vulva — are quite common and easily remedied by a doctor.
“My advice is to seek thorough evaluation by your healthcare provider in order to confirm the diagnosis via examining and further testing, as it could be a mixed infection or another infection causing the symptoms.”