Common Boric Acid Misconceptions

Corey Whelan

Written by Corey Whelan

Corey Whelan

Written by Corey Whelan

Like many at-home remedies, the use of boric acid suppositories has made the rounds of social media, generating some factual information, but also many misconceptions along the way.

If you’re considering using this remedy to support your vaginal health, keep reading. In this article, we’ll explain what boric acid suppositories are and when they should be used. We’ll also discuss some of the viral misconceptions about this specific remedy that may have you second guessing its validity and safety for vaginal use.

Are Boric Acid Suppositories Safe and Effective?

Boric acid is a naturally occurring, water-soluble compound with antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral properties.1 It has a wide range of non-medicinal uses, including crop protection, as a household insecticide, as well as for fireproofing wood, food preservation, manufacturing ceramics, and tanning leather.2

It may strike you as strange that a substance commonly used as a pesticide can also be used to aid in the treatment of vaginal infections, however, boric acid suppositories have been recommended for certain vaginal issues, including yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, by healthcare providers for decades. While some people may also try to use boric acid suppositories in the hopes of treating and curing vaginal yeast, the jury is still out as to its efficacy for this.

Boric acid suppositories work by supporting and maintaining an optimally acidic, rather than alkaline, vaginal pH level.3 The hormonal changes experienced during menopause and perimenopause can alter the vagina’s pH level, making it more alkaline. Ejaculate and menstruation, as well as douching, or changes to your diet, can also have this effect.   

The use of boric acid suppositories may help to make you less susceptible to symptoms that often coincide with hormonal changes that alkalize the vagina, such as discharge, itching or irritation. When used as directed by your healthcare provider, often in conjunction with prescription treatments, these suppositories may also help to make you less prone to recurring vaginal infections such as vulvovaginal candidiasis (yeast infections) and bacterial vaginosis.4   

What’s in Boric Acid Suppositories?

Boric acid is derived from borax, a mineral salt. Borax is a chemical compound derived from boron, which is a chemical agent typically found in the earth’s crust.5

Boric acid suppositories for vaginal use are often sold as vegetable or gelatin-based capsules, which contain boric acid as their sole active ingredient.

Since boric acid suppositories are manufactured by a wide range of companies, it’s important to always check the ingredient list for any substances you may be sensitive or allergic to before considering use. It’s not uncommon for other ingredients, such as aloe vera, to be included in boric acid suppositories, due to their soothing or healing properties.   

What are the Dangers of Boric Acid Suppositories?

While beneficial for supporting and balancing the vaginal microbiome, the acidic environment generated by boric acid is considered toxic to certain insects and plants. Most importantly, it is also highly toxic to humans when ingested orally, and can even be fatal.6

As mentioned, these types of suppositories often come in a capsule form; therefore, it’s very important that you keep them separate from any other medications you take, to avoid accidental ingestion. Also, be sure to keep them out of reach from children and pets. When using boric acid suppositories, it’s essential to avoid oral/genital sexual activity after use, in order to avoid accidental ingestion.    

While less common, skin exposure to large amounts of boric acid can cause dangerous side effects or even fatalities, in some instances.7 That’s why it's so important to wash your hands after using a boric suppository, which can help you avoid this risk entirely.

Have There Been Any Deaths from Using Boric Acid Suppositories?

This brings us to a prevalent misconception about boric acid. You may have heard that severe illness or fatality is possible from using boric acid suppositories. Rest assured, there are no reports of deaths from the proper use of vaginal boric acid suppositories referenced anywhere in scientific literature. When used correctly as a vaginal suppository, boric acid is considered safe,8 however, and as mentioned earlier, you should not engage in oral sex when using this type of treatment to avoid inadvertent ingestion.

You may not realize it, but exposure to boron, the chemical element from which boric acid is derived, is very common. Boron, which is also known as a trace mineral can be found in many fruits and vegetables, as well as certain grains and nuts.9 The small amounts of boron most people come into contact with every day, are not considered to be harmful to health. That includes the small amount found in vaginal suppositories.

Most boric acid suppositories contain around 600 milligrams (mg) of this substance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you would need to orally ingest around 30 grams (30,000 mg) of boric acid during a short timeframe for it to adversely affect your internal organs, or result in death.10

If you, a child, or a pet accidentally ingests boric acid, it’s important to call 911 or go to a healthcare facility, immediately. Additionally, if accidental ingestion occurs, you should be aware of the main symptoms of boric acid poisoning, which include:11

  • Blue-green vomit
  • A bright red rash anywhere on the skin
  • Diarrhea

What Are the Side Effects of Boric Acid Suppositories and Who Shouldn’t Use Them?

Boric acid suppositories are safe for most people, but they may not be right for everyone. Before you use them, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider, and let them know what you believe the cause of your symptoms is. This can help to ensure you get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

It’s also important to note that boric acid suppositories aren’t typically recommended for ongoing, daily use, or for issues like vaginal odor or mild discomfort.12

Boric acid suppositories should not be used by people who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. They also may not be recommended for people with certain preexisting conditions, such as:13

  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • A compromised immune system
  • Open vaginal wounds
  • A known boric acid allergy

Side effects from using boric acid suppositories are possible. Make sure to let your healthcare provider know if your infection doesn’t clear quickly, or if you experience any side effects from the use of boric acid. These can include:14

  • Vaginal irritation or redness
  • A burning sensation
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Hives

How to Use Boric Acid Suppositories

Use boric acid suppositories exactly as described on the product packaging and/or as your healthcare provider recommends. In some instances, an applicator may be included with the suppositories. If not, you can insert each suppository with your fingers. It’s important to not exceed the recommended dosage.

To use boric acid suppositories, follow these steps:15

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before and after use.
  • Gently wash your vaginal area, to avoid the possibility of internal contamination from any external bacteria.
  • Get into a comfortable position for insertion. You may be most comfortable if you lie on your back with your knees bent. You may also choose to stand with your knees bent and apart, if easier.
  • Gently insert the suppository into your vagina, as far as it will comfortably go.
  • Leakage from the suppository melting is likely to occur. For that reason, you may wish to use this type of product right before bed. You may also want to use a sanitary pad or liner to absorb leakage.

Remember, before starting any new product, especially one used vaginally, speak with your healthcare provider about the symptoms you’re hoping to treat, first. This will enable them to determine a proper diagnosis and assess the potential benefit(s) of using boric acid suppositories, or perhaps can recommend an alternate treatment option.  

Resources

  1. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Boric-acid
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/boric-acid#:~:text=Boric%20acid%20is%20used%20as,dyeing%2C%20painting%2C%20and%20photography
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/19641-boric-acid-vaginal-suppository
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6878170/
  5. https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-boron-and-borax/#:~:text=Borax%20is%20a%20compound%20of,borax%20is%20a%20chemical%20compound
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33485927/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33485927/
  8. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/deaths-from-boric-acid-suppositories
  9. https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-boron-rich-foods-5092054
  10. https://wwwn.cdc.gov/TSP/PHS/PHS.aspx?phsid=451&toxid=80
  11. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/poison/boric-acid-poisoning
  12. https://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/boric-acid-suppositories-doctors-advise-against-use-for-vaginal-odor/
  13. https://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/boric-acid-suppositories-doctors-advise-against-use-for-vaginal-odor/
  14. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/19641-boric-acid-vaginal-suppository
  15. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/boric-acid-for-yeast-infection

Comments

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When I was in my twenties, I had a horrendous issue with yeast infections (wearing panty hose every day did NOT help). My gyno finally prescribed boric acid suppositories and they worked instantly. He also scared the heck out of me by reinforcing that there was to be no mix up whatsoever by taking them orally. I do believe they were banned shortly thereafter. I then sought help at my local organic/holistic shop. Of course it was a salesMAN that approached me for help and I explained the whole ugly story with quite a red face (he didn’t flinch). Through a combo of vitamins and cutting sugar/processed foods from my diet, I finally got them under control.

Deborah A Perkel on

This is very helpful I didn’t know what to do about the dryness

Phyllis Washington on

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