Probiotics, foods, or dietary supplements that contain good, live bacteria, can help you maintain a healthy gut and vagina. Yet, as more women’s health products with varying claims enter the market (including probiotics), how do you know what’s right for you? And, perhaps the bigger question: Do you need a probiotic to support your vaginal health?
A healthy vaginal environment, or microbiome, maintains an acidic pH to help keep out harmful bacteria and pathogens (disease-causing organisms). The kicker? Your vaginal microbiome is already teeming with bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms.
The most prevalent vaginal bacteria, Lactobacilli, are responsible for maintaining a balanced, acidic environment by producing lactic acid. But, when your vaginal pH changes, unhealthy bacterial strains, and fungi can grow and thrive.
Taking antibiotics, having unprotected sex (fun fact, semen has a neutral pH), and using scented soaps inside your vagina can alter your vaginal pH. Most of the time, your vagina can self-clean and right itself back to an acidic pH. When lactobacilli remain low for too long, however, bad bacteria and fungi can multiply faster and lead to infection.
Common vaginal infections include bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections. BV can develop when normal bacterial strains in your vagina grow out of control. You can identify BV from a fishy odor and more gray or white vaginal discharge. Some women also experience itching and painful sex with a BV diagnosis.
A yeast infection, similar to BV, occurs when the vaginal environment becomes imbalanced and fungi strains, like candida, overgrow. However, a yeast infection doesn’t emit an odor, and the vaginal discharge is thicker than with BV.
Probiotics and your vaginal health
Probiotics can help maintain a healthy, pH-balanced vaginal environment and keep harmful bacteria and fungi at bay. They can help support your vagina’s natural immunity and “optimize, maintain, and restore the vaginal microflora.” One recent study suggests that certain Lactobacillus types may attach to vaginal cells and actively help prevent infections like BV.
Though probiotics primarily sit in the supportive health category, such as preventing the overgrowth of bad bacteria, researchers continue to investigate their ability to treat infections. Results remain inconclusive yet promising and are “worthy of further study” for probiotics’ potential short and long-term benefits.
Currently, antibiotics and antifungal treatments are the gold standard for treating BV and yeast infections. As noted earlier, however, antibiotics can also cause an overgrowth of bacteria. So, even though antibiotics can help clear up infections like BV, they can also contribute to an imbalanced microbiome. That’s why taking a probiotic to support your vaginal health is essential, as are continued studies of probiotics to treat vaginal infections.
How to take probiotics to support your vaginal microbiome
Probiotics line wellness aisles and pop up on social media feeds with claims to solve various bodily ailments. Like your vaginal microbiome, probiotics can contain different “good” bacteria strains that can help boost your body’s microbiomes.
However, not all probiotics are created equal. A vaginal probiotic should contain a strain of Lactobacilli proven to support vaginal health for optimal efficacy. Lactobacillus rhamnosus, for instance, is backed by numerous studies showing its effectiveness in supporting a balanced vaginal microbiome and reducing BV-causing pathogens. Probiotics also qualify as supplements, which means they are not regulated or approved by the FDA. That’s why it’s vital to choose a probiotic from a brand committed to strict product regulations and safety standards.
Our newly-released Mia Vita Women’s Probiotic follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure the highest quality from production to packaging and supports your gut and vaginal microbiome. Taking a probiotic synthesized by women, for women, can uniquely support your health needs. Each capsule contains ten distinct probiotic species, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a strain particularly supportive of vaginal health. As a result? You may experience a healthier microbiome, better digestion, and sharper thinking.
Besides taking a probiotic to support your vaginal health, use a condom every time you have sex, take steps to reduce stress, and eat a healthy diet full of probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut. If you continue to experience vaginal discomfort or suspect you have BV or a yeast infection, make an appointment with a healthcare provider to discuss appropriate treatment options.
FemmePharma has been helping women navigate menopause for over two decades. No matter where you are in your journey, you deserve to have knowledgeable, intimate healthcare partners to help you feel your best. Explore our other articles, podcast episodes with women’s health experts, and products to ease your transition into menopause.