Consuming probiotics has become a popular way to help relieve digestive issues or improve digestive health. More recently, research has shown that the benefits probiotics offer are not limited to the digestive tract. Probiotics also provide benefits for your oral health, your skin, and vaginal health.
Contrary to what you have probably heard growing up, not all bacteria are bad. Your body is home to trillions of bacteria. Some of these bacteria are harmful, but some of them are good for your body and essential to your overall health.
The good and bad bacteria form little communities which experts call the human microbiome. The bacteria survive in these communities in your digestive tract, in your saliva, on your skin, and in your urogenital tract. More than 50 unique strains of bacteria live inside your vagina. Most of this bacteria belongs to the lactobacilli family which helps keep the vagina healthy and wards off infection.
When the good and bad bacteria are balanced, the body is healthy and happy. But, when there are more of the bad bacteria than good, problems will start to arise. The balance of the good and bad bacteria is sensitive and can be easily disturbed by many different things. Changes in hormones, menstruation, sex, medications, stress, or poor hygiene habits can all cause an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome.
Once there is an imbalance it is possible to notice symptoms like odor, discharge, discomfort, and itching. The overgrowth of harmful bacteria can also result in many different infections such as yeast infections, urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis. All of these infections can lead to serious complications if not treated.
Getting Back in Balance
Probiotics are good bacteria. They are live microorganisms that help replenish the good bacteria in the microbiome and help maintain a healthy balance. Research has shown that probiotics fight off and kill harmful bacteria that can lead to serious infections.
Often, when you get an infection like a yeast infection, it is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics will then destroy all of the bacteria in an effort to destroy the infection. While this may be necessary, antibiotics not only kill the harmful bacteria but they also kill the good bacteria that you need. Without the good bacteria, the harmful bacteria can grow back and take over once again—quickly leading to another infection. Then the cycle continues with the same or a different infection like a UTI.
Taking probiotics, along with an antibiotic during an infection, will help the body maintain the good bacteria that it desperately needs to fight the infection and protect itself from another infection. Probiotics are essential if you are experiencing an imbalance, if you are taking antibiotics, or if you find you are constantly getting infections.
While it is possible to get this good bacteria through eating fermented foods or through some dairy products like yogurt, that may not be the most effective way. Probiotic supplements are the easy way to get the beneficial bacteria your body needs. Taking probiotics for vaginal health means you won’t have to worry if you are getting enough probiotics and they provide many other benefits for women’s health as well.
Since there are so many different types of bacteria, you may be wondering what the best probiotics for vaginal health are. Lactobacillus is the beneficial bacteria that is most naturally present in the vagina. They produce lactic acid which helps your vagina sustain a healthy low pH. This family of bacteria is seen as the most effective at fighting off bad bacteria and maintaining a harmonious balance in the vaginal microbiome.
A few specific probiotics that are good for vaginal health are:
Being proactive with your vaginal health can help you avoid uncomfortable symptoms or serious infections. A healthy vaginal microbiome reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections and even cervical cancer. By taking vaginal probiotics and supporting your vaginal microbiome you will also be supporting healthy fertility and pregnancy.
Taking a probiotic specifically for women’s health will not only help you prevent or treat vaginal infections it will also benefit other areas of your health. Probiotics designed for women provide multiple benefits for a woman’s entire body. Some also believe that taking care of the body’s entire microbiome, including the gut and skin, will increase its effectiveness in specific areas. For example, taking care of your gut microbiome will translate to a healthier vaginal microbiome as well.
A women’s probiotic will benefit your entire well-being versus vaginal health probiotics, that while great, only target one area. As well as fighting infections and improving fertility, a women’s probiotic can provide benefits including:
- Promoting digestive health
- Boosting immunity
- Improving skin problems
- Supports a healthy heart
- Improves mental health
Both probiotics for vaginal health and women’s probiotics have rare and mild side-effects. The two most common are gas and bloating. Both of these side effects are likely to go away on their own. They are typically the result of your body adjusting to the new bacteria. However, if your symptoms are severe or painful, you should consult your physician.
Any probiotics, including vaginal probiotics, may be dangerous for those who have a compromised immune system or another serious illness. In these cases, you should consult your physician before you try probiotics.
If you think you may have a vaginal infection like a yeast infection or a UTI, you should see your doctor and ask how vaginal probiotics may help. Usually, the early symptoms of these infections are not severe. However, if not treated properly the infection can spread to the kidneys which can be serious. If you suspect an infection and experience pain on your sides or lower back, a high temperature and/or chills, you should seek immediate medical treatment.
Should You Be Taking Vaginal Probiotics?
Vaginal probiotics and women’s probiotics help women maintain a healthy body from head to toe. They are natural and healthy alternatives to prevent serious conditions, and they cause little risk to healthy women. Probiotics make taking your overall health and happiness into your own hands easy. If you deal with persistent infections or you want to reach and maintain your health goals, consider probiotics.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.