When probiotics are discussed, they’re most often associated with the benefits they have for gut health. Probiotics are cultured bacteria you can eat or drink from things like yogurt and kombucha, or you can take them as a supplement. The healthy bacteria in probiotics are also naturally found in the gut and serve the purpose of breaking down waste and controlling populations of bad bacteria that would otherwise cause infection. The natural, good bacteria population is called a microbiome.
The vagina also has a microbiome, and as such, probiotics can benefit vaginal health and wellness. So, what probiotics should you use for vaginal health? Read on to learn more about the vaginal microbiome and the role of probiotics for vaginal health.
What is the vaginal microbiome?
The vagina is home to a complex ecosystem of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This ecosystem is known as the vaginal microbiome. The vaginal microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining vaginal health by protecting against infections and promoting a healthy vaginal pH balance. Most of the microorganisms in the vagina are in the Lactobacillus species, making up 95% of the microbiome. This vaginal bacteria produces lactic acid and helps to maintain a slightly acidic pH in the vagina. This acidic environment helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. When the balance of bacteria in the vaginal microbiome is disrupted, it can lead to a range of health problems, including bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
How can the vaginal microbiome be affected?
The vaginal microbiome can get disrupted by several things, including:
- Unprotected sex
- Hormonal changes
- Wearing tight non breathable clothing
- Poor feminine hygiene
- Taking antibiotics
- Using antibacterial or heavily scented soaps to wash the vulva
- Using bubble bath and/or scented bath bombs
- Douching with heavily scented solutions
- Vaginal steaming
If the microbiome’s balance is thrown off, the pH of the vagina can become less acidic. Bacteria that otherwise would not survive the environment now have an opportunity to create an overgrowth and cause infections such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), Yeast Infection, and Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) may not need any interventions for treatment and go away on its own as the vaginal microbiome re-establishes its natural balance, but antibiotics may be needed to treat some cases.
Yeast infections are usually treated with an antifungal medication, many of which can be bought over the counter.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system, which includes the bladder, urethra (the tube through which urine exits the bladder), kidneys, and ureters (the tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder). Women have a greater risk of developing UTIs than men because their urethra is much shorter and closer to the bladder. Most UTIs affect the bladder and urethra, but serious health problems can occur if the infection spreads to the kidneys. UTIs are treated with antibiotics and pain medications. Cranberry juice and cranberry pills have also shown benefits in preventing and helping alongside antibiotic treatment for UTIs.
Can probiotics help vaginal health?
Taking probiotics can help you maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome, reduce the risk of UTIs, support the immune system, reduce inflammation, improve vaginal odor, and promote optimal overall vaginal health.
- Maintain a healthy balance of bacteria: The vagina is home to a delicate balance of bacteria, including lactobacillus, which helps to maintain a healthy vaginal pH level. When this balance is disrupted, it can lead to issues such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections. Vaginal health probiotics can help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria, reducing the risk of these types of infections.
- Support the immune system: Probiotics can help to support the immune system, which is important for preventing and fighting infections. They can help to stimulate the production of antibodies and white blood cells, which can help to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Reduce inflammation: Probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the body, including inflammation in the vaginal tissues. This can be beneficial for women who suffer from conditions such as vaginitis, which is characterized by inflammation and vaginal itching.
- Improve vaginal odor: Vaginal odor is a common concern for many women. Probiotics can help to improve vaginal odor by promoting a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina.
- Improve overall vaginal health: Probiotics can help to improve overall vaginal health by promoting healthy blood flow to the vaginal tissues, improving lubrication, and reducing dryness.
Best products for vaginal health
Adding probiotics to your diet can definitely help your vaginal health. Natural ways to implement more probiotics into your diet are by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, soya, herbs and spices, garlic, nuts and seeds, fermented foods, and intact whole grains. Probiotics can come in the form of an oral supplement or in the form of a vaginal suppository as well.
It is important to choose a probiotic that is specifically formulated for vaginal health. While many probiotic supplements are marketed for digestive health, they may not contain strains of bacteria that are beneficial for vaginal health. Look for a probiotic supplement that is labeled for vaginal health or contains strains of bacteria that are known to be beneficial for vaginal health such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus gasseri.
Our Women’s Health Probiotic supplement is a holistic product including L. gasseri and L. rhamnosus and supports your digestive, urinary tract health, and vaginal microbiome. Cranberry fruit extract, which is naturally high in antioxidants and vitamin C, is added for its acidic properties that are proven to help promote a healthy vagina. This oral probiotic supplement contains both prebiotic and probiotic blends that support healthy immune function, help to balance the gut microbiome and support good digestion. Our formula has clinically studied ingredients, including four billion CFUs of probiotic strains, optimized for gut health and to support vaginal health. Take one capsule orally each day with or without food. We recommend taking probiotics at night before bed as your gut is less active at night.
pH-D Feminine Health offers several products from foam wash, boric acid suppositories, boric acid rinse, wipes, body sprays, and travel size products for vaginal health.