Are Probiotics Good For Vaginal Health? Consuming probiotics have become a popular way to improve digestive health. Probiotics are healthy bacteria strains found naturally in some foods and nutritional supplements.
Recently, health experts have begun to consider the potential benefits of probiotics on vaginal health. The scientific evidence is not conclusive. However, it appears that at least one strain of probiotic, L. acidophilus, could help prevent and treat imbalance issues like bacterial vaginosis (BV).
What Are Probiotics?
A Greek word meaning “for life,” the WHO defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
The Connection Between Probiotics and Vaginal Health
How does all of this pertain to your vagina? For starters, your vagina is like your gut and harbors many good bacteria. The vagina naturally maintains a delicate balance of bacteria and yeast to keep the pH in its normal acidic range. The good bacteria help fight off any harmful bacteria introduced, but things like sexual intercourse, hormone changes, and heavily fragrance feminine hygiene products can potentially disrupt this ecosystem. And when that happens, you end up with a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV).
That’s where an extra dose of probiotics can come in handy, helping to restore the much-needed balance. Every probiotic contains multiple ways to seek a product tailored for women’s or vaginal health. Many oral probiotics are marketed, but it’s worth skimming the label for one ingredient: lactobacilli or lactobacillus acidophilus. Lactobacilli is a strain of good bacteria that lives in your vagina and helps maintain a healthy vaginal pH, preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. A healthy vaginal pH typically falls a bit on the acidic side between 3.8 to 4.6; lactobacilli are responsible for producing a lactic acid, which helps maintain this acidic pH.
Because probiotics are intended to propagate good bacteria, they may help them fight harmful bacteria and keep you from needing antibiotics for a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. While there isn’t a whole lot of evidence showing the benefits of probiotics for vaginal health, there is evidence that they can increase the lactobacilli in your system to help prevent pesky vaginal infections.
Do probiotics help vaginal health?
The evidence for using probiotics for vaginal health is inconclusive, but some studies have produced promising results.
They may help treat people with gastrointestinal disorders and may be beneficial for diarrhea, periodontal disease, and other conditions.
People use probiotics most often to address:
- Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC): Better known as yeast infection, experts say that 7 in 10 women will experience at least one episode of VVC in their life.
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV): BV is the most common vaginal condition in females aged 15-44. BV may be linked to bacteria such as Gardnerella vaginalis or when Prevotell bacteria outnumber Lactobacillus.
Some people also suggest that probiotics can help address the following health challenges:
- urinary tract infections
- the spread of sexually transmitted infections
- the risk of relapse of VVC and BC after treatment with antibiotics
Should You Take Probiotics For Vaginal Health?
Should everyone be popping a probiotic for vaginal health purposes? Not necessarily. They are likely the most beneficial to those dealing with persistent, recurrent yeast infections or BV. Women who are also experiencing things known to disrupt vaginal bacterial levels- taking an antibiotic, going through peri-menopause, or having sex with multiple partners -may also benefit from proactively taking probiotics.
Probiotics aren’t risky, so you can feel free to give them a try. There is no evidence that probiotics can cause a lot of harm to your body. Just take it with the antibiotics because probiotics may lose their effect and not work correctly. For best results, take them at least four hours apart.
Probiotics are living organisms that many people claim to offer a variety of health benefits.
Interest in using probiotics for vaginal health is growing, but there are still not enough comprehensive or conclusive studies to determine whether taking probiotics is effective.
Probiotics may help treat BV and yeast infections.
Anyone interested in taking probiotics for vaginal health should speak to a doctor or pharmacist first.