Sorting Facts About Probiotics From Fiction
Vaginal probiotics are touted as a way to introduce live microorganisms into your vagina to improve health. Its true that your vagina, like your digestive tract, is teeming with beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. When it comes to vaginal health, some common gynecological conditions are thought to be caused by an imbalance of bacteria inside the vagina. More often than not, when women seek out probiotics, theyre doing it in an attempt to ease discomfort caused by two of them: bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection, says Dr. Mitchell.
Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. Theres still a lot that experts dont understand about the condition, but it is associated with an overgrowth of harmful microorganisms , which outnumber healthier types of vaginal bacteria, including a common organism called Lactobacillus.
Vaginal yeast infection also stems from an imbalance in the vagina. But in this condition, the problem is a fungus called Candida, which overcomes healthy bacteria. Candida can exist normally in the vagina without any problem, but may cause trouble if it outnumbers other microorganisms.
For now, the only proven treatments for bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection are antibiotic or antifungal treatments, says Dr. Mitchell.
Try Boric Acid Suppositories
For some women, introducing carefully-measured acidifiers such as boric acidyes, the same stuff used as roach poison!could help maintain a low vaginal pH and in turn potentially ward off bacterial vaginosis, says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., a board-certified gynecologist in Westchester County, New York. Obviously, a substance capable of knocking out pests is very strong, and concentrations of powerful acids like boric acid can be harmful to vaginal tissue. As such, its important to check in with a healthcare provider for their guidance and never try this home remedy on your own. After that, only put in boric acid inside your vagina in the form of suppositories which are encased in a gelatin capsule that dissolves in the correct doses and avoid applying to broken skin.
An older study found that seven days of antibiotics followed by three weeks of 600 milligram boric acid suppositories per day had a cure rate of 87%, 78%, and 65% at 12, 16, and 28-week follow-ups. Still, researchers say more studies are needed on the efficacy of boric acid as a solution for recurrent BV and pregnant women should not use it due to a lack of information on safety and potential side effects.
Can Acidophilus Actually Help
When you hear the term acidophilus, you probably think of yogurt and wonder how yogurt works to treat bacterial issues. Well, it does, but that’s not the only form of acidophilus you can use. This treatment option is effective because it actually reintroduces good bacteria into the system and restores the pH balance.
Don’t Miss: Probiotic Yogurt For Lactose Intolerant
Will Probiotics Cure Bv
The theory behind using probiotics to cure BV is that they can increase the number of good bacteria in the vagina, to help restore the natural floral balance and normalising the vaginal pH. In turn, this could treat BV and prevent its recurrence. Supporting this idea, a review published in the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease suggested that most studies carried out in this field have been in favour of probiotics in the treatment or prevention of BV, and no adverse effects have been reported. The researchers concluded that it may be helpful for women to take daily probiotic products.
However, not everyone is convinced. According to Dr Caroline Mitchell, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, there is scant evidence to support the effectiveness of treating BV with probiotics and many of the studies in this area have been poorly done.
Culturelle Prenatal Wellness Probiotic
Why its great: This 12 billion CFUs supplement consists of 5 proven probiotic strains that target feminine health, from yeast infections to bacterial vaginosis. On top of the vaginal health benefits, this probiotic also aids with digestion and promotes overall gut health.
It can be taken before, during, and after pregnancy, which is especially important if you are breastfeeding. If swallowing pills is posing as impossible during pregnancy, these may be a good choice for you because they are a mixed fruit-flavored chewable.
Keep in mind: These have a lower CFU count than others on the list, but many mommas still find them effective.
Good for: Mommas who cant swallow pills and prefer chewables.
You May Like: Puritan’s Pride Premium Probiotic 10
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?
Common symptoms of a yeast infection include itchiness or burning in or around the vagina, and a white discharge that often looks like cottage cheese. This discharge is typically odorless and might have a yeasty smell .
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.
Tea Tree Oil Suppositories
Tea tree oil has natural antimicrobial properties, and research indicates that while it effectively kills a variety of BV-causing bacteria, it seems to preserve good Lactobacillus bacteria. Meaning, compared to antibiotics, it appears to be more selective and less damaging to the overall vaginal microbiome.
But dont use straight tea tree oilinstead, consider short-term use of a tea tree oil suppository specifically meant to be inserted into the vagina. My favorite BV remedy is tea tree oil suppositories used nightly for six nights, says Trubow. I like them because they work well, are cheap, are naturally derived, and are well-tolerated. Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial agent, and I find it to be gentler to the vagina overall.
Because some people can be sensitive or even allergic to tea tree oil, experts recommend testing a small amount of the oil on your skin and waiting a day or two to see if you notice a reaction.
Read Also: Best Probiotics For Toddlers Immune System
Should I Take Probiotics Daily
The short answer is yes, you should be taking probiotics daily. However, if you are consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, cheese, and fermented foods like kimchi daily, you may not need to take a probiotic every day. If your diet limits your intake of probiotics, such as a dairy-free diet, then we recommend that you do take a probiotic supplement daily.
What Are The Side Effects Of Using Probiotics
Probiotics contain live bacteria and as such come with a few side effects:
What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?
- itchy and redness of skin
- difficulty of breathing
Also Check: Probiotics In Neonates Cochrane Review
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
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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A Guide To Women’s Health: Fifty And Forward
Midlife can be a womans halftime celebration. Not only can it be an opportunity to reflect on and rejoice in the life youve lived, but it is also a good time to plan your strategy for the future. A Guide to Women’s Health: Fifty and forward will help you determine the conditions for which you are at greatest risk and do your best to avoid them. It will also help you to better manage chronic conditions that may erode your quality of life, and to deal with physical changes that are more bothersome than serious. It is designed to give you the information to make the choices today that will ensure you the best health possible tomorrow.
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Randomization Groups And Visit Schedule
Women were randomized to four groups within three days of completing oral metronidazole treatment: behavioral counseling only counseling plus 500mg oral metronidazole twice weekly for two months counseling plus EF+ vaginal capsule once per day for the first five days followed by thrice weekly for a total of two months and 4) counseling plus GynLP once every four days for two months. Participants applied the first dose of their intervention under direct observation at the enrollment visit, and returned to the clinic after seven days , one month , two months , and six months . They were allowed to cease vaginal product use temporarily during menstruation. Product adherence was assessed by review of diary cards, used and unused products, and by a self-rating adherence scale. Symptomatic BV, vulvovaginal candidiasis, and urinary tract infections, and laboratory-confirmed sexually transmitted infections, diagnosed during follow-up were treated using standard oral therapies, and women were urged to continue their interventions during treatment. Visit procedures are summarized in Fig. and described in Supplement .
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.
How Long Do Probiotics Take To Work For Bv
A review carried out at the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Marousi, Greece highlighted trials which suggested that probiotic pessaries when used for 6 to 12 days, or probiotic tablets when taken orally for 2 months, cured BV and/or reduced recurrences of the condition. The study also found that using probiotics over these time periods resulted in an increase in Lactobacillus significantly more frequently than when placebos or no treatment were given. However, the review went on to point out that other trials have produced less positive findings.
Given the uncertainty surrounding how effective probiotics may be in treating BV, its impossible to give a definitive answer in terms of how long they may take to help relieve the infection.
Flora Bloom Probiotics For Women
Why its great: These are an excellent choice for women at any stage in their lives, pregnancy included. This 10 billion CFUs proprietary blend of probiotic strains targets digestive, urinary, and vaginal wellness. Its recommended to take 2 of the delayed release capsules per day.The urinary health component makes this supplement stand out on our list. This prebiotic and probiotic blend contains cranberry and D-mannose for urinary tract wellness. If this is a supplementation you need, it just makes sense to include it in your probiotic.
Keep in mind: The dosing for these is 2 pills instead of 1.
Good for: Mommas who are looking for a long-term answer to their probiotic needs.
What Are The Risks Of Probiotics
Probiotics sold as dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Their labels may make promises about what is in them and how they operate, but they may not be entirely accurate. So, it is best to be cautious.
More research is needed to determine how safe probiotics are. However, scientists believe they may have some negative consequences, such as:
Read Also: Culturelle Probiotics Women’s Health Reviews
What Is A Yeast Infection
Yeast infections, also known as thrush or Candidal vulvovaginitis, are often caused by a strain of yeast called Candida albicans, although there are several other species of Candida that can also lead to a yeast infection. Yeast infections have very distinct symptoms that include a pale yellow or while discharge that resembles cottage cheese. Many women also report irritation and itching, and in some cases even abdominal pain. Yeast infections are very common, and over one-third of women experience a yeast infection at least once during their lifetime. Up to fifty percent of women experience recurrent episodes of thrush, and up to eight percent of women even experience chronic yeast infections. Chronic yeast infections can often be very difficult to manage and can cause a great deal of physical and mental stress for women who experience them. Yeast infections, as well as many other types of vaginal infections, can affect women of any age at any time.
What Causes Candida Infections
Normally this happens when there is a drop in Lactobacillus, a type of good bacteria, in the vagina. Lactobacillus imbalances can be caused by low estrogen levels or by a drop in vaginal pH, and when this bacteria declines, Candida can proliferate in the vagina. Other factors like diet, medications, hormonal changes, douching, scented pads, and even tight or irritating clothing have also been linked to yeast infections. Many of these factors cause imbalances in the healthy microflora of the vagina, and that imbalance can allow unhealthy organisms, like the fungus Candida that causes yeast infections, to proliferate. These harmful microorganisms will often continue to proliferate until a healthy balance of bacteria is restored.
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Best Strain Of Probiotic For Vaginal Ph Balance
As has been previously discussed, changes in pH can have big implications for vaginal health. A pH that is too low can lead to yeast infections, and a pH that is too high can result in BV. By taking probiotics that contain strains of Lactobacillus, a healthy vaginal pH can be maintained. Most probiotic formulas designed for womens health contain one or more strains of Lactobacillus in order to keep the vagina at the optimal pH. However, it is important not to substitute your womens health probiotics with other probiotics, as many other formulas do not contain Lactobacillus and will likely be ineffective. Here is a list of our Favorite Probiotics for Vagina PH Balance on the market.
What Is Probiotic Stuffing
Probiotic stuffing is the practice of including dozens of strains at low dosages in order to stuff the label with more probiotic cultures, making the product seem more attractive to the end consumer.
There are many ways that probiotic stuffing can occur:
Thats why you should not fall for products promoting 50 Billion or 100 Billion CFUs as maximum strength, or the number of strains. We cant emphasize this enough. Look for the products with the studies to back them up!
Also Check: Vive Biotics Super Probiotic Formula Reviews
Symptoms Of A Yeast Infection
Although your vaginal pH level will not directly conclude if you have a yeast infection, other symptoms can. These symptoms include:
- Itching, burning or swelling near the affected area
- Thick vaginal discharge that is grey, green, yellow, or white in color
- A burning sensation during urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Appearance of a vulvar rash
- Fissures in the wall of the vagina
Falling Out Of Balance
This delicate balance is easily disrupted by any number of factors. Sex, semen, menstruation, vaginal washes and wipes, certain medications, and even stress are common culprits. These triggers can raise pH levels creating an environment where non-beneficial bacteria and yeast can grow and flourish throwing off your vaginas balance and making it susceptible to infection.
Sex, semen, menstruation, vaginal washes and wipes, certain medications, and even stress can trigger a disruption to vaginal microflora.
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