Probiotic for Vaginal Health
Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria), that when utilized in appropriate amounts, claims to offer health benefits for your vagina. In recent years, the interest of probiotic for vaginal health has become a big business, yet somehow still controversial. In the US alone, millions of dollars are being spent every year on the use of probiotics for vaginal health.
Interestingly, Americans have been using probiotics approximately four times more than they were being used about a decade ago. But the big question remains, can taking probiotics really help you maintain a healthy pH in you vagina? Some critics suggest that there remains a lack of evidence to support the claim that probiotics are effective in treating or preventing vaginal infection.
It might seem odd that promoting ingesting bacteria in the form of probiotics can prevent infections. After all, bacteria are known to cause infection. But good bacteria protects us from bad bacteria. Therefore, there is no need to worry. Furthermore, this bacteria won’t get into your blood stream.
This article will take a closer look at probiotics for your vagina, what it does, and who may benefit from it, as supported by recent studies.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), good manufacturing practices and quality assurance should apply to manufacturers of the probiotic for vagina. As with probiotic foods and other related products, this should ensure its practical and safe use for human beings.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements. Since most probiotics are promoted as dietary supplement, you should be aware that what they promote, ingredients etc is not regulated by the FDA. Therefore, the manufacturer of the product can make any claim they chose to promote the product.
Benefits of Probiotic for Vagina
Many recent studies have confirmed that certain evidence-based “super strains” of the probiotic for vagina, when used appropriately, can be beneficial for the following reasons:
• It can introduce the “good” bacteria and balance pH levels
• It can prevent yeast infections and ward off urinary tract infections
• It reduces the severity of infections and stops them from recurring
• It can support the immune system and reduce inflammation
A 2019 research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has revealed that the probiotic for vagina regimens are generally safe. The probiotic for vagina may exhibit both short-term and long-term benefits for the treatment of vulvovaginal conditions.
The gynecological conditions for which probiotics are promoted include the recurrent forms of the following disorders:
1. Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
• BV is the most typical form of vaginal infection among women of child-bearing age. This condition is associated with the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, including Prevotella or Gardnerella vaginalis.
• Deficient levels of Lactobacilli have been related to this condition. Also, low levels of this good bacteria for the vagina is believed to play a role in the development of yeast infections or urinary tract infections.
• In a study by Sobel, BV is has been associated with the overgrowth of bacteria, including Gardnerella vaginalis, Prevotella, and Mycoplasma hominis. Likewise, incidences of BV have also been linked to depleted or reduced levels of Lactobacilli.
• Other studies, though, have shown that specific probiotic strains for the vagina that claimed to be essential for optimal vaginal health are somewhat difficult to grow outside of the vagina. Furthermore, it has been found that women need individualized probiotic strains for their own flora/medical condition.
2. Vaginal yeast infection
• Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), the most common type of vaginal yeast infection is caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Candida can typically thrive in the vagina but may cause problems if it outnumbers other microorganisms.
• A study in the Journal The Lancet estimated that approximately 7 out of 10 women experience at least a single episode of vaginal yeast infection in their lives.
• Moreover, in a Cochrane Database systematic review among non-pregnant women, the probiotic for vagina has slightly improved short-term cure and reduced relapse incidences after a month. However, no significant impact was found for longer-range (three months after treatment) cure rates.
Probiotics for Vaginal Health: The Vagina’s Superhero?
Using probiotics for vaginal health (mainly oral probiotics) is often linked to the ability of microorganisms to survive passing through the gut, and ascending to the vaginal tract after being excreted through the rectum. On the other hand, the vaginal administration of the probiotic for the vagina allows a targeted or direct action of the vaginal probiotic for restoring unhealthy vaginal bacteria.
The following health benefits on various populations have been confirmed by several types of research on the effectiveness of probiotics for vagina:
1. Probiotics among non-pregnant women
Cochrane review study showed that compared with conventional treatments, the additional use of the probiotic for the vagina can increase short-term cure and lower recurrence rates within a month.
2. Probiotics among pregnant women
Current study findings suggest that probiotic for vagina supplementation is rarely absorbed systematically when used by healthy individuals. One study reports that no adverse pregnancy outcomes have been observed with probiotic use.Further, in a study by Reid & Devillard (2004), probiotic fo has been reported as an effective method to treat or prevent BV and related disorders among pregnant women.
3. Probiotics in OB patients
According to researchers in this study, the effects of probiotics for the vagina are mainly strain and dose-dependent. Lack of standardized processes during the manufacturing process could significantly alter the survival, growth, and effectiveness of probiotic therapy for the vagina.
The Probiotic Super Strains
The Lactobacillus species has shown to produce acetic and lactic acid, as well as hydrogen peroxide, which keeps the pH of the vagina to roughly 4.5 or less. This probiotic super strain has been associated with hampering the growth of yeast infections. Also, this probiotic for the vagina is considered protective against BV and VVC.
The following microorganisms are recommended as healthy probiotic “super strains” for vaginal health:
1. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 has shown to be a safe probiotic for daily use among healthy women. It has proved to significantly reduce yeast and potentially pathogenic microorganisms from colonizing the vagina.
2. Lactobacillus crispatus is an effective probiotic for the vagina shown by research to produce compounds such as lactic acid, which potently inhibit BV-associated harmful bacteria.
3. Lactobacillus plantarum P17630 has shown to be effective as a preventive agent for recurrent vaginal yeast infections. This super strain is considered one of the most beneficial bacteria in the body. A study from the European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology confirms this. The probiotic super strain is found in cultured vegetables, including kimchi and sauerkraut. This super strain is characterized by its capability to adhere to the vaginal mucosa and protect against thrush, BV, among other vaginal infections.
4. Lactobacillus acidophilus. A study in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology reveals that this strain inhibits different concentrations of harmful bacteria, including the Gardenerella vaginalis and Atopobium vaginae, after six hours of administration.
In addition, the probiotic was able to inhibit the growth of harmful strains of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus after 6 and 12 hours.
5. Lactobacillus brevis is a probiotic for the vagina, which enhances the immune function by enhancing the activity of white blood cells to fight cancers and increasing immunity at the cellular level. It is generally considered effective in combating BV and acts to inhibit the effect of many harmful microorganisms both in the vagina and the gut.
6. Bifidobacterium longum is thought to influence the balance of microorganisms in the female vagina by its production of lactic acid. This probiotic has been linked with the prevention of the proliferation of pathogens in the vagina, along with other essential health benefits, including preventing food allergies and diarrhea, as well as improving lactose intolerance.
7. Bifidobacterium animalis is a powerful probiotic for the vagina found in fermented milk products, including yogurt. This strain is known to boost immunity and knock out pathogens such as salmonella. This probiotic super strain produces acetic acid, which helps reduce yeast growth.
Side Effect of Probiotics
When probiotics are taken by mouth properly (or when the probiotic suppository is applied to the vagina correctly), it is considered generally safe. Some individuals may experience very mild side effects that include bloating, increase in stomach gas, diarrhea or constipation, cramps, and acne.These temporary side effects are thought to be expected because the good bacteria is working on remodeling/improving the ecosystem of microorganisms in your gut or vagina. Nonetheless, persistent complications should be reported to your physician. Watch out for the following vaginal probiotic adverse effects:
- • high fever
• persistent cough
• severe dizziness
• difficulty of breathing
Tips on How Take Probiotics
The following tips are recommended by medical experts when taking probiotics for vagina:
1. Probiotics is best consumed on an empty stomach or when the stomach acid levels are lowest. Its best to read the product label
2. Avoid taking the probiotic with chlorinated water. This could significantly affect the effectiveness of the probiotic supplement since chorine is generally added to water systems to kill bacteria (good or bad).
3. Take adequate prebiotic fiber. This allows a nurturing environment for the probiotic organisms that you take for your vaginal health.
Foods rich in prebiotic fiber include garlic leeks, onion, and dandelion greens. You can also try supplements made from the baobab fruit or acacia gum, as these are generally well tolerated.
Antibiotics & Probiotics
• Several studies have reported that taking probiotics can reduce the risk of diarrhea due to antibiotic regimen by more than 50%
• Given that the probiotic for the vagina is bacteria, this can be killed by antibiotics if taken together. Hence, it is essential to take your antibiotics and probiotics hours apart.
• It is recommended to take probiotics for the vagina after a course of antibiotics to restore a healthy vaginal ecosystem that may have been eradicated by the medication.
• A study found probiotics to be effective in restoring healthy microorganisms to its original status – after taking antibiotics- which may have disrupted the natural bacteria in the area.
Is yogurt a good probiotic for the vagina?
Yogurt is a natural form of probiotic for the vagina that can support optimal vaginal health. It is also popular in easing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) because it contains calcium. Furthermore, yogurt as a probiotic can be effective for women experiencing the discomfort or pain linked with vulvovaginal conditions such as BV.
One recommendation is the use of cooled probiotic tampons. This can be done by literally freezing yogurt (the plain and unflavored type) in a tampon applicator, then inserting it into the vagina. This therapy has a dual effect: 1) the cooling sensation has been shown to alleviate the pain, and 2) the probiotics can fight the underlying infection.
Important: You need to consult with your OB if this home therapy is advisable for you.
Food With Probiotic
Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir, and probiotic supplements are some forms of natural probiotics that you can try to keep your vagina in optimal condition.
Some manufacturers offer probiotic suppositories for direct application/insertion to the vagina. Naturally, the formulas used for vaginal application should be designed specifically for vaginal use. This is also is not regulated by the FDA.
You need to talk with your physician on the safety and efficacy of using the probiotic for the vagina as a suppository to treat/prevent vaginal infections.
Importantly, never take oral medications as a suppository. And never insert prebiotics inside your vagina.
What the Experts Say
Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a practicing OB-GYN and clinical professor of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science at the Yale University School of Medicine states that the risk of taking the good strains of oral probiotic for vagina is “minuscule.” The researches presented in this article have supported this point as well.
Moreover, Dr. Minkin adds her point-of-view that “even if probiotics are not actively treating or preventing vaginitis, they’re probably not hurting you.”
Furthermore, while most medical doctors don’t push the probiotics for vagina on their patients, a number of them (Dr. Minkin included) occasionally do suggest that women with recurrent vaginal infections give probiotics a try. After all, at a point when all other treatment remedies have been exhausted, trying the evidence-based probiotics can be worth a shot.