Are Probiotics Good for Vaginal Health?

Nurture healthy vaginal flora with the use of good bacteria

Probiotics aka the “good bacteria” have played a major role in boosting gut health. The main ingredient in staple foods like yogurt, pickles, or sauerkraut all have the same purpose, to support a healthy microbial flora. They add up to the already present good bacteria in the body assuring a speedy metabolism.

We all know their function in gut health but do these probiotics aid in the upkeeping of your vagina?

“The strains contained in Pro-Fem includes probiotics with the specific ability to adhere to cervical epithelial and vaginal cells” says Monte Swarup, MD, FACOG.

Lactobacillus reuteri (RC-14) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (GR-1) are Pro-Fem’s renowned and clinically researched probiotic strains that have been studied for their contributions to vaginal health. There have been more than 25 years of research including 27 human clinical studies that verify the benefits of the patented RC-14 and GR-1 and their ability in colonizing and protecting the vaginal tract.

There are various strains of lactobacillus that combat the bad bacteria responsible for UTIs and Vaginal infections. Some of these lactobacillus strains include:

  • Acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus Crispatus
  • Gasseri
  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus Reuteri
  • Lactobacillus Jensenii

Vaginal Health and Flora

Do you know there are about one hundred trillion micro-organisms inside your body? Many of these reside in your gut whereas almost 50 different kinds of microbes live in your vagina. These are known as vaginal flora.

“Researchers have begun to see the connection of the vaginal microbiome to the gut microbiome”, says Dr. Swarup.

If there’s any imbalance in the vaginal flora, the risk of bacterial and yeast infections increases. The disruption may be caused by:

  • Hormone changes
  • Poor hygiene
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Periods

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a common infection among females which occurs due to changes in the vaginal pH and bacterial imbalance. The normal bacteria residing in the vagina may overgrow and cause an infection.

Symptoms that may occur:

  • Vaginal discharge, grey, green, or off-white in color.
  • Discharge with a fish-like smell
  • Stronger “fishy” smell during periods or after sexual intercourse

Bacterial vaginosis could go away without treatment but might need to be treated with antibiotics in some individuals. Studies have shown that probiotics like RC-14 and GR-1 help prevent and even treat bacterial vaginosis.

Vaginal Yeast Infections

Vaginal yeast infection occurs by the infestation of yeast in the vagina. It is characterized by painful swelling and discharge from the vagina. Over 1 million people in the US experience vaginal yeast infections each year.

The symptoms are as follows:

  • Itchy region surrounding the vagina and vulva.
  • A vaginal discharge that is white with a thick consistency like cottage cheese.
  • Swelling and redness in the vagina and vulva.
  • Tiny cuts or cracks that occur in the vulva region.
  • A burning sensation while urinating.

Treatment: It can be normally treated with antifungal medication that combats the growth of yeast in the body. Probiotics are also effective in preventing yeast infections. They survive the acidic pH of the body and provide long-term benefits.

“Lactobacillus rhamnosus, is one of the most researched strains of probiotics, and is beneficial in preventing of yeast infections.  Research shows that Lactobacillus rhamnosus (GR-1) and Lactobacillus reuteri (RC-14) combined kills yeast and bacteria in the vagina. It can also restore the urogenital flora in individuals with a history of Bacterial Vaginosis, yeast vaginitis, or UTIs.” explains Dr. Swarup

The anti-infective property of lactobacillus can be enhanced with the use of oral lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a biological protein that plays a major role in killing microbes in the vagina. The combination of both lactoferrin and lactobacillus can be effective in restoring balance and preventing recurrent infections.

Probiotics to Restore Vaginal pH

The human body has a range of pH in different regions for example blood, intestines, stomach, skin, and the reproductive system. You might have come across products that claim to restore the pH balance of your vagina, but the question is: Is the pH imbalance of the vagina a serious concern? It is important to maintain vaginal pH balance to prevent infections, support changes in hormone levels, and undergo healthy pregnancy.

The pH scale ranges from 0-14 where a pH below 7 is considered acidic, and a pH greater than 7 is basic. A healthy vaginal pH is greater than 4.5 which helps prevent vaginitis and keep the vaginal flora in harmony. If there are changes in pH balance, probiotics can be of help.

 “Probiotics, and specifically lactobacillus that can be found in probiotics, aid in the production of lactic acid which produces hydrogen peroxide and this contributes to a healthy vagina, establishing defense against harmful pathogens”, explains Dr. Swarup 

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.

Lactobacillus Reuteri 

L. Reuteri has an edge over other probiotics by its resistance to the acidic pH of the stomach. It can survive through the entire GI Tract. It is one of the strains in the Pro-Fem formula.

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus

It mainly resides in the intestines and forms an enzyme called lactase. Lactase works by breaking down milk sugar lactose into lactic acid. It is also available in Pro-Fem as a supplement and you can find it naturally in milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Usage & Precautions Note

While there are no known side effects of probiotics, it is important to take them as directed by your health care provider.  Talk with your health care provider if you are experiencing BV, Yeast Infections, UTIs or have any other concerns.