Frequently Asked Questions :
Though probiotics target the human body in general, certain strains of probiotics can show effective results in women, especially regarding the female reproductive system and urinary tract. According to research, women who had the presence of lactobacilli in the vaginal canals never had a urinary tract infection compared to women without the lactobacilli strain. In further studies, when women were treated with probiotics showed significant improvements in their urinary and vaginal health. Though many beneficial bacteria are effective in womens health, Culturelle Womens Healthy Balance can be claimed as the most effective and widely used probiotic for women.
It is natural to wonder if you should take probiotics daily. Since you menstruate every month and there are several other complications to the female body, it is common to worry over the safety of taking supplements every day. Though there are a few exceptions, you can take probiotics daily as long as you follow the recommended dosage. Supplements are not medicines, but you still need a doctors consultation on how to take probiotics with your diet.
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Who Should Take A Probiotic For Vaginal Health
Just as you wouldnt take heart medication for a condition you dont have, it doesnt make sense for you to take a probiotic specific to vaginal health if all is well on the southern border. That said, if you have recurring issues, it doesnt hurt to take them as needed.
My feeling is, if there are recurring issues, like persistent infections, theres no downside to taking a probiotic like Pro-B, Dr. Streicher says. Theres no harm in it, so if its helping you, keep taking it, because it makes sense that it will only help to keep things in balance. Its also safer and far more effective than douching or vaginal washes.
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Benefit #: Promotes Good Vaginal Health
There are many reasons to take a probiotic supplement. Probiotics aid digestion, fight inflammation, boost immunity, and more. But for those of us with female hardware below the belt, perhaps the best benefit of these friendly gut bugs is their ability to aid and restore the vaginal microbiomes natural balance. And as weve previously discussed, balance is key to maintaining good health.
While there are a ton of options available on the market when it comes to probiotics, we recommend our Probiotics Kit aka the probiotic dream team to support your gut, skin, and vaginal health. Complete microbiome care, from head to toe. Whats not to love?
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Unbalanced Vaginal Ph
Think youre dealing with a vaginal pH imbalance? Here are the telltale signs to watch for:
- A fishy or foul-smelling odor
- Unusual white, green, yellow, or grey discharge
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Thick or cottage cheese-like discharge
If youre experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor to get checked out.
A medical professional will be able to figure out exactly whats going on and point you in the direction of the best treatment suited to your specific needs. They may also recommend taking a probiotic to lend a hand to your good bacteria as they fight the bad bugs to help you feel better.
Best Probiotics For Women
Every probiotic contains different strains of bacteria that serve distinct purposes. Its important to keep that in mind when choosing probiotics for your specific condition.
In this case, your best bet would be to find probiotics packed with a large number of strains for balancing your vaginal pH levels.
There are quite a few products out there that are good for your vaginal health. With that being said, you have plenty to choose from.
Here are some of your best probiotics for women.
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How Often Should You Take A Vaginal Probiotic
If this is something youre taking to keep a pesky problem at bay, you can and should take Pro-B every day. But even if youre not someone who suffers from continuous infections or other unpleasantries, a vaginal probiotic is something you can take toward the end of your period to help restore and maintain your pH balancesomething that easily gets thrown out of whack during your menstrual cycle.
If youre nodding along while reading this and thinking, That is totally me, starting a probiotic regimen could not be easier. Get your doctors OK first, but know that Pro-B is available without a prescription at the drugstore or via Amazon. Its so simplenow you know.
What Is A Good Female Probiotic
6 of the Best Probiotics for Women Probiotic Pearls Digestive and Vaginal Health. SHOP NOW AT Amazon. Culturelle Womens Healthy Balance. SHOP NOW AT Amazon. Flora Bloom Probiotics for Women. SHOP NOW AT Amazon. Vitamin Bounty Womens Pro-Daily. NatureWise Probiotics for Women. Renew Life Womens Probiotic Ultimate Flora.
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Dietary Aid For Probiotics
In addition to using oral probiotic supplements, it is also suggested to reduce foods that feed the growth of unhealthy bacterial like sugar, yeast, and fermented foods.
Alternatively, increasing prebiotic foods that naturally promote the growth of good bacteria in the body are recommended to enhance the probiotic supplements in balancing vaginal microbes. Prebiotic foods include fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain foods.
While research into using probiotic supplements for vaginal health is ongoing, results are proving positive, with little to no known risks for healthy women. A regular intake is suggested for optimal results, along with some simple dietary changes.
Always consult with your health practitioner if you are considering adding a probiotic supplement to your daily healthcare routine.
Anukam K, et al. – Augmentation of antimicrobial metronidazole therapy of bacterial vaginosis with oral probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14: Randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial –
A Hallen, C Jarstrand, C Pahlson Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis with Lactobacilli –
Mayo Clinic Yeast Infection –
Probiotics For Digestive Health
Healthy gut bacteria feed on fiber and some other prebiotic foods, so experts recommend that people eat a diet rich in high-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables.
To improve digestion, choose probiotics known to support gut health, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species. The L. rhamnosus GG strain, in particular, has many protective factors that may benefit gut health, for example, inhibiting the growth of some salmonella bacteria.
Taking a probiotic supplement will not always benefit a persons digestive health and should not replace a healthy lifestyle. People should ensure they are:
- eating a healthy diet
support vaginal and digestive health. This product contains 1 billion CFU of L.acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, and L. plantarum.
The company claims that Probiotic Pearls may protect against UTIs.
This probiotic contains softgel capsules. They are free from gluten and sugar, and do not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. However, this product is not suitable for vegetarians.
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Probiotics And Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is the first malignant tumor of female reproductive tract, and about 300000 people die of cervical cancer every year . When infected with HPV, it can destroy the vaginal microecological balance, reduce the number of Lactobacillus and increase the adhesion and colonization of abnormal flora. This further leads to the up regulation of HPV protein expression, promotes the development of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia , and even leads to the occurrence of cervical cancer . Gao et al. were the first to systematically evaluate the relationship between vaginal microbiota and HPV infection and found that vaginal bacterial diversity in HPV-positive women was more complex and the composition of vaginal microbiota was different. A study demonstrated for the first time that oral Lactobacillus curlicus can change the state of CST and increase HPV clearance. Persistent high-risk HPV infection and changes in cervical microenvironment promote the development of cervical precancerous lesions . Lactobacillus activates the immune system to inhibit the proliferation of malignant tumors by secreting various antitumor metabolites, including phosphorylated polysaccharides and extracellular polysaccharides. . There is an important link between increasing probiotic intake and reducing cancer progression.
Probiotic Strains Boost Overall Health
Probiotics have a vast variety of strains. Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus are the two most prominent strains that have proven to be effective in promoting vaginal health and the combination of these in Pro-Fem make it the leading Vaginal Probiotics. They are patented strains with years of research and human trials.
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Benefits: What Are The Benefits Of Probiotics
Our bodies contain good and bad bacteria, and to keep off infections, the two must maintain a healthy balance. In this regard, getting an outside source of helpful bacteria from probiotics works in our favor. It is clear probiotics help maintain healthy vaginal flora. But what are the other benefits of probiotics?
Probiotics are suitable for the gut as they bring back harmony in the gut system. They help clear diarrhea, constipation and reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics support weight loss. In addition, gut bacteria play a significant role in metabolism. They facilitate a smooth process of digestion, appetite regulation, energy production, and storage. When gut microbiomes are balanced, the body breaks down food into energy, stores fats, and regulates appetite hormones.
Probiotics not only work on the inside, but they also do wonders for the skin. The skin also contains both unhealthy and healthy microbiomes, and they are brought back to a balance by probiotics, keeping skin acne and eczema at bay.
Good gut microbiomes are responsible for producing mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters. One of the neurotransmitters produced in the gut is serotonin, a feel-good hormone that helps reduce stress and anxiety.
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How Do I Take Probiotics
You can take probiotics in supplement form or by eating fermented foods and yogurts that contain live and active cultures. If you choose to take a supplement, be sure to look for one that contains at least 50 million CFUs and is specifically designed for vaginal health.
Its also important to take probiotics on a regular basis not just when youre experiencing vaginal issues. This will help prevent future problems from occurring.
When it comes to choosing a probiotic supplement, there are many factors to consider. Here are a few of the most important:
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Do Probiotic Supplements Benefit Vaginal Health
But what works in the laboratory doesnât always work the same way in the human body. It may not be as simple as introducing healthy bacteria in the form of a pill or suppository.
So far, there’s little evidence to suggest that these supplements improve vaginal health. This may change as scientists learn more. But for now, antibiotic and antifungal medications are the only treatments known to be effective for vaginal bacterial and yeast infections.
The Risks Of Probiotics
The FDA doesnât regulate probiotics that are sold as dietary supplements. That means their labels can make claims about what’s in them and how they work that may not be true. So itâs best to be cautious. We need more research on how safe probiotics are. But scientists say they may have some harmful effects, including:
- Unlisted ingredients that could pose health risks
- Unsafe substances made by probiotic microorganisms
Your risk of harmful side effects is higher if you have a serious illness or problems with your immune system.
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When To See A Doctor
Usually, conditions caused by vaginal imbalance are mild to moderate, and dont cause severe health problems. However, BV and yeast infections can cause serious discomfort if left untreated. And you should always seek quick treatment for a UTI to avoid possible complications.
If youve recently had sex and notice itching, burning or other unusual symptoms in your vaginal area, you should also talk with your doctor. You could have a sexually transmitted infection, such as trichomoniasis.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you suspect you have BV, a yeast infection, or a UTI. Seek immediate medical treatment if you have:
- pain on your sides or lower back
- a high temperature
Getting Back In Balance
Experts say no conclusive evidence shows that probiotics are effective at preventing and treating BV or other conditions related to vaginal imbalance. Currently, antibiotics remain the recommended treatment for these conditions.
As its important to get a proper diagnosis and treat underlying causes, the recommendation to take a probiotic in supplement form should be made by the healthcare provider only after a complete assessment and proper diagnosis of the condition is made, says Haar.
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The Benefits Of Probiotics
Probiotics are often called good or friendly bacteria because they help keep the balance of bacteria in your body in check. When this balance is upset, it can lead to various vaginal health issues like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections.
In addition to preventing vaginal health problems, probiotics may also help reduce the severity and duration of symptoms if you do happen to get an infection.
For example, one study found that women who took a probiotic supplement daily for four weeks experienced a shorter duration of bacterial vaginosis symptoms than those who didnt take a supplement.
Swansons Probiotics For Daily Wellness
Image courtesy Swanson
Hectic lives can all team up to disrupt your natural balance. Supportive supplements such as Probiotic for Daily Wellness by Swanson Health help support general health with a higher population density in beneficial strains which will help restore harmony throughout your entire body.
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How Do They Work
Probiotic supplements for general health often donât contain cultures that are particularly useful for vaginal health. Itâs thought that vaginal probiotics with Lactobacillus strains that are better at sticking to vaginal cells are more effective. Some studies have shown these strains are more likely to populate the vaginal microbiome, and maintain this population over time.
Bacterial Vaginosis Vs Yeast Infection
Despite the fact that yeast infections are talked about much more, they are the second most common cause of vaginal symptoms, beat out only by bacterial vaginosis.
So whats the difference between the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis and a yeast infection?
This differs from the thin consistency and strong fishy odor of the discharge associated with bacterial vaginosis.
Of course, the best thing to do if you have any of these symptoms is to visit your healthcare provider who can perform an exam and testing to determine which of these infections you might have.
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Are Probiotics Beneficial Or Harmful
Are there benefits of probiotics for women? Some researchers believe that consuming probiotics may aid in restoring a healthier balance of bacteria in the human microbiome including the vaginal microbiome.
That being said, everyone has individual needs and the microbiome will differ between each person. It may not be as straightforward as taking a tablet or suppository containing good bacteria.
Probiotics can definitely be beneficial to vaginal health, both for treating issues and helping maintain balance. However, make sure to listen to your body and consult with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Boric Acid Suppositories For Bv
Boric acid suppositories have long been used for vaginal infections, including BV and yeast infections. It is regarded as a simple, safe home remedy for vaginal infections. It is thought that boric acid may affect the biofilms of BV-causing bacterial.
One study showed that treatment with nitroimidazole followed by 21 days of intravaginal boric acid suppositories and then, if in remission, metronidazole gel twice weekly for 16 weeks. BV cure rates at 12, 16, 28, and 36 weeks were 87%, 78%, 65%, and 50%, respectively.
Though the BV cure was not permanent for 50% of women in the trial, this study indicates that boric acid , may be useful in delaying recurrence of BV. More studies are needed to determine if ongoing use of boric acid may be helpful for BV prevention, especially for those with recurring BV.
Please note: Oral use of boric acid is toxic vaginal use only. Pregnant women should not use boric acid.
You can purchase boric acid suppositories online quite easily. As always, it is best to discuss any of these remedies with your doctor before use.
Other home remedies for BV that are less studied include: herbal suppositories , tea tree oil for BV, and hydrogen peroxide for BV.
If you are considering any BV treatment over the counter or home remedies for BV, talk to your doctor.
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Is There Anything I Should Take Or Do To Ensure My Vaginal Microbiome Is Healthy
In the future, there may be research-backed ways to strengthen the vaginas bacterial defenses, possibly by combining effective probiotics with antibiotics or even by performing vaginal microbiome transplants.
But for now, experts simply dont know enough about the vaginal microbiome to be able to reliably shift it in the direction of better health. So while vaginal probiotics are unlikely to hurt you, they also arent likely to help you whether you have an infection or not. And unless youre actively ailing, the best way to maintain optimal feminine balance is also the simplest: Dont do anything special. And certainly dont spend money on unproven treatments for your most intimate of landscapes.
Women have enough things in this world to worry about, Dr. Hillier said. The bottom line is that its the doorway to your reproductive tract. Treat it with respect, and love it.
Rachel E. Gross is a science writer based in Brooklyn and the author of Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage.