Boric acid: It certainly doesn’t sound like something you would want to put in your body, much less use it as a medical treatment for a yeast infection or BV. Shockingly, however, boric acid has been used in vaginal health care for more than a hundred years due to its mild antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral properties. 

So, what is boric acid, exactly? And how can it be used to treat common vaginal infections? Let’s dive in to learn more about this over-the-counter solution! 

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What is boric acid?

Boric acid is a white powder derived from the naturally occurring element boron, and it touts antifungal and antimicrobial properties. More than five hundred products sold in the U.S. contain boric acid, including soil fertilizers, household cleaners, detergents, and personal care products. 

While boric acid can be safely inserted into the vagina as a bacterial or antifungal treatment, it's important to note it is toxic when ingested orally.

Using boric acid to treat vaginal infections

You may have seen a trending video on TikTok about this, but more and more women are turning to boric acid suppositories to treat common vaginal infections like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV). In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Women’s Health, boric acid can be an effective treatment option for women with recurrent and/or chronic vaginitis (defined as a vaginal infection occurring 4 or more times per year).  

Vaginal yeast infections, or vulvovaginal candidiasis, in particular, are caused by an overgrowth of Candida fungus. Boric acid suppositories are often prescribed by healthcare professionals to treat recurrent yeast infections that have not responded well to standard antifungal treatments, as boric acid helps to create an unfavorable environment for the growth of the Candida fungus.

Boric acid suppositories are also used as an adjunct treatment for bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common vaginal infection characterized by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. Boric acid may help restore the vaginal pH balance as well as reduce the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

In general, the typical regimen suggests using 600 mg of boric acid vaginal suppositories daily for two weeks to treat a vaginal infection, with clinical trials proving this solution to be 40% to 100% effective. However, we never recommend self-diagnosing, so be sure to consult with your healthcare provider if you're considering using boric acid products to treat any kind of infection "down there."

Does boric acid require a prescription?

Boric acid suppositories, or intravaginal boric acid (IBA), do not require a prescription, and you can buy them over-the-counter at your local pharmacy.

On top of being a remedy for many different types of vaginal infections, boric acid products are also commonly used for the management of persistent vaginal odor and discharge that has not responded to other treatments. 

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How to insert boric acid suppositories

Once you get the go-ahead on boric acid from your doctor, you'll want to closely follow the instructions on the medication’s packaging. Here are some helpful tips for correctly (and comfortably) inserting a boric acid suppository into your vagina:

First, thoroughly wash your hands before taking the capsule out of the package. You can then choose to either stand with your knees bent and your feet a few inches apart, or lie on your back with your knees bent. Either way, inserting the suppository at an angle may be the most comfortable. 

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Using your fingers or an applicator, carefully and gently insert one suppository as far as it can comfortably go into your vagina. If you use an applicator, remove it and throw it away. 

At this point, you may want to put a panty liner in your underwear, as there can be discharge from the suppository. When you're done, don't forget to wash your hands one last time! 

Inserting boric acid at the same time each day can be a good way to make sure you're keeping with the regimen and is also the most beneficial for treatment. Pro tip: Many women find that inserting a boric acid suppository at bedtime is the path of least resistance!   

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Is boric acid safe to use during your period?

Now you may be wondering, "What if I have my period? Can I still use boric acid?" While boric acid suppositories are safe to use while menstruating, it's not recommended to use a boric acid suppository in conjunction with a tampon or menstrual cup. Instead, use a menstrual pad. You should also keep in mind that menstrual blood can alter the pH levels in your vagina, potentially disrupting the suppository’s effectiveness, so whether or not you choose to skip the usage of boric acid while on your period is up to you. 

Above all, it's important to speak with your doctor or care team about whether or not boric acid is the right solution for any issues that may be plaguing you — but all signs point to it being a convenient, safe, and effective treatment option for most women.

Brighid Flynn is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia where she lives with her husband and puppy. She is just beginning her journey toward motherhood.