Many of us concern ourselves with balancing the good bacteria in our digestive tracts, but did you know that popping special probiotics can help balance your vaginal flora, too? According to obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Mache Seibel, this flora, or the helpful “collection of bacteria and other microorganisms” that live in your vaginal tract, is what helps to maintain homeostasis.
Through the aid of lactobacilli, your lady parts are able to produce “lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other substances that inhibit the growth of yeast and other organisms” in order to stay healthy and maintain an ideal, though slightly acidic, “pH of around 4,” which is believed to help protect against infection.
A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information notes the high prevalence of bacterial vaginosis, or BV, among women. “Bacterial vaginosis is the most common cause of vaginal discharge in women, responsible for 40 to 50 percent of clinical cases. Among American women ages 14 to 49, the general prevalence—including asymptomatic cases—is close to 30 percent.”
If you are one of the recurrent sufferers, or deal with other issues related to the imbalance of vaginal flora, then there’s hope in probiotics.
Dr. Seibel says that if you are taking antibiotics, having frequent sexual intercourse (which may disrupt normal pH levels), experiencing recurrent urinary tract infections or BV, or are in the stages of perimenopause, or in menopause, then you may benefit greatly from the use of a special probiotic designed to re-balance your vaginal flora.
In the same study cited above, researchers found a direct correlation between using an insertable probiotic designed for vaginal health and a lowered recurrence rate of BV. During the first two months after the probiotic trial, only 15.8 percent of the women taking a probiotic were again diagnosed with BV versus 45 percent of the women who used the placebo. During the two to 11 month mark, “only 10.6 percent of women in the probiotic group and 27.7 percent of women in the control group had confirmed BV.”
When it comes to choosing the right probiotic, and determining which type is optimal for vaginal use and which type is best for intestinal use, he says, “Certain bacteria [lactobacilli] are more prevalent in the vagina, so replacing those are most essential. Also, if the probiotic is oral and not inserted directly into the vagina, it’s important that they are able to survive the acidity of the intestinal tract, which is where they have to travel before getting to the vaginal canal.” He also notes that these special probiotics for your lady parts are also generally safe to take during pregnancy and may even “help prevent early delivery” in pregnant women who have BV.
Recommended by Dr. Seibel, RepHresh Pro-B is clinically proven to balance yeast and bacteria and helps maintain vaginal flora with just one oral dose daily. The formula has two strains of probiotic Lactobacillus, including L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14, which is the type of good vaginal bacteria we discussed earlier.
Probaclac vaginal probiotics are the same vaginally inserted probiotic used in the study cited earlier in this article. The brand's formulation is designed specifically to treat BV and other flora imbalances. It contains 8 billion CFU per dose and does not require refrigeration.
Garden of Life
Suitable for vegetarians, Garden of Life Raw Probiotics for vaginal care contains 50 billion CFU and includes Lactobacillus. Best kept refrigerated, these oral pills are formulated for yeast balance, urinary tract, and vaginal health. In addition to help for common female problems, these also boast strong digestive and immune support.
The Nexabiotic probiotic is formulated with Lactobacillus, cranberry extract, and D-mannose to help prevent and treat common vaginal and urinary tract problems. Based on the ingredients, this seems suitable for vegetarians, as the capsule is gelatin-free, but does contain milk. Refrigeration is not required.
Perfect for vegans, the Peachbody probiotic is designed to be inserted vaginally and is said to aid in the prevention of yeast infections, BV, candida, urinary tract infections, odors, itching, and discharge. The 12 billion CFU per pill contains Lactobacillus, among other strains, and instructs the user to insert one every 4 to 6 days, rather than daily.
These vaginal probiotics with applicator by PurFem directly target the problem area. With two species of Lactobacillus--Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri--and 10 billion live cells each, they’re ideal for treating BV, urinary symptoms, yeast overgrowth, dryness, itching, burning, and more.
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