Boric acid has become trendy. But not everything that’s trendy is safe or effective. We’ve done a deep dive into boric acid as a treatment of vaginal infections so that you don’t have to! Learn about what it is, why it’s so popular, whether it’s proven effective and the answer to your most common question: “can you use boric acid on your period?”
What is Boric Acid?
Boric acid is a form of boron, a naturally occurring chemical compound. It can be found in water, volcanoes, sea salt spray, rocks, soil dust, as well as some fruits and vegetables. It’s commonly added to cosmetics, pesticides, various cleaning products, as well as drug and natural health products, as a stabilizer.
It has been used in vaginal health care for over a hundred years because of its mild antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Vaginal suppositories using boric acid as their active ingredient are typically available as small 600mg tablets, meant to be administered once daily for 2 weeks to treat various conditions.
Why Would I Use a Boric Acid Suppository?
Boric acid vaginal suppositories or intravaginal boric acid (IBA) is used to treat a variety of vaginal conditions, including:
- Vaginal yeast infections often caused by the overgrowth of Candida fungus
- Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, defined as 4 or more yeast infections a year, debilitating and severely impacting quality of life
- Bacterial vaginosis caused by a disruption of vaginal pH and presenting as unusual discharge, itching and vaginal odors
These conditions are often caused by:
- Normal fluctuations of hormone levels (during the menstrual cycle)
- Repeated use of antibiotics
- Diabetes and other immunocompromised conditions
- Weakened immunity
- Or as a natural reaction to another person’s genital chemistry
We don’t recommend self-diagnosis and self-treatment as this can be dangerous and lead to further complications. Talk to your doctor about what the best way of treating yeast infections is for you. Boric acid is not recommended for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Why is Boric Acid Popular?
Boric acid has been used for over a hundred years as a treatment for vaginal discomfort and infections, but it’s seen a surge in popularity lately. There are a few reasons for this:
- The development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria has made it more difficult to treat some vaginal infections with traditional medications. According to a study out of the Journal of Women’s Health, boric acid is “a safe, alternative, economic option for women with recurrent and chronic symptoms of vaginitis when conventional treatment fails because of the involvement of non-albicans Candida (fungus) strains or azole-resistant strains.” (Iavazzo et al. 2011)
- People are looking for natural ways to treat health conditions.
- Boric acid can be more cost-effective than prescription antifungal medications.
- Word-of-mouth recommendations have helped to spread awareness of this as a treatment option.
It’s important to note that, while boric acid may be effective for some people, it’s not the best choice for everyone. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for your specific condition.
How Effective is Boric Acid?
Boric acid is best used as a secondary treatment to prescribed antifungal drugs, if they prove ineffective or infection reoccurs, and you suspect antibiotic-resistant strains.
Intravaginal boric acid (IBA) is currently one of the only options available to treat azole-resistant vulvovaginal candidiasis in the UK and the US. Widespread use of IBA may increase further if drug resistant bacteria continue to drive the occurrence of vaginal infections.
Despite some gaps in research, the current data does suggest that IBA is safe to use, when done in doses as dictated through the research—600 mg once daily for 2 weeks. Avoid use if you have a fever, nausea, vaginal bleeding, a pelvic inflammatory disease, any sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease or a blood vessel disorder.
Are There Any Side Effects?
When compared with various azole medications (antifungals), boric acid is anywhere between 40-100% effective. It does not reduce recurrence and comes with some side effect warnings, such as:
- vaginal burning sensations
- watery discharge during treatment
- vaginal redness and irritation.
However, research suggests that this is still fewer side effects than those listed in relation to traditional antifungal treatments.
Can You Use Boric Acid While on Your Period?
It is generally recommended to wait to use a boric acid capsule until after your period. During your period, menstrual blood can alter vaginal pH and may make it difficult for the boric acid to be effective.
Abstain from vaginal or oral sex, while treating any vaginal infection. Putting anything in your vagina or causing friction to the area can make it harder to heal.
Always pause before trying what’s “popular.” Do your research and consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it’s going to be a safe and effective option for your body.
- Abu Hashim, Hatem, and Hatem AbuHashim. “A Randomized Comparison of Boric Acid versus Terconazole in Treatment of Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis.” Clinicaltrials.gov, 21 Dec. 2019, clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04208555.
- Dinesh, S., et al. “STUDY of ANTIFUNGAL ACTIVITY of BORIC ACID on VAGINAL PATHOGENS.” Www.semanticscholar.org, 2013, www.semanticscholar.org/paper/STUDY-OF-ANTIFUNGAL-ACTIVITY-OF-BORIC-ACID-ON-Dinesh-Ajit/b67698021a23ce66878a570d3013836827e59b1c?p2df. Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.
- Iavazzo, Christos, et al. “Boric Acid for Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: The Clinical Evidence.” Journal of Women’s Health, vol. 20, no. 8, Aug. 2011, pp. 1245–1255, 10.1089/jwh.2010.2708.
- Mittelstaedt, Rachel, et al. “Data on Safety of Intravaginal Boric Acid Use in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women: A Narrative Review.” Sexually Transmitted Diseases, vol. 48, no. 12, 1 Dec. 2021, pp. e241–e247, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34561373/, 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000001562.
- “Planned Parenthood.” Plannedparenthood.org, 2023, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/health-and-wellness/vaginitis/what-yeast-infection#:~:text=The%20medical%20name%20for%20a%20yeast%20infection%20is.
- “Terconazole (Vaginal Route) Proper Use – Mayo Clinic.” Www.mayoclinic.org, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/terconazole-vaginal-route/proper-use/drg-20061411.