How Can Probiotics Help With Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal health problems reported by women of childbearing age it is estimated that one in three will have it at some point in their lives.
Most women know that BV can be characterised by a fishy-smelling vaginal discharge, but many arent aware that around half of all BV cases are believed to be asymptomatic.
BV is characterised by an overabundance of bad anaerobic organisms in the vaginal microbiome most commonly Prevotella and Gardnerella vaginalis with a loss of the good guy Lactobacillus bacteria. This results in the vagina losing its ideal acidity, causing its pH level to increase over 4.5.
Interestingly, the precise causes of BV are not yet fully known and it has been described as one of the great enigmas in womens health. Youre at increased risk if youre sexually active, have a contraceptive IUD device or use perfumed products around your vagina. Many women suffer from recurrent BV.
It is most commonly treated with antibiotic creams, tablets or gels. But can probiotics provide a helping hand in avoiding and treating BV?
According to a scientific review, theres evidence from a range of clinical trials that a daily probiotic supplement helps to prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis. The most promising probiotic strains were Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1, and Lactobacillus fermentum RC-14, with no reporting of adverse side effects.
What Is The Vaginal Microbiome And Why Does It Matter
The vaginal microbiome, also commonly known as your vaginal flora, is a term that describes the communities of microorganisms that reside in your vagina.
Your body is teeming with microbes that thrive in those areas of warmth and moisture predominantly the gut, the mouth and, of course, the vagina. Collectively, these are known as the human microbiome. It is home to in excess of 10 trillion microbial cells bacteria, fungi, archaea and viruses.
The vaginal flora is a cluster of several dynamic microbial communities. Their structures can change quickly and can have a big impact on vaginal health outcomes. A balanced vaginal flora must be dominated by Lactobacillus species these good bacteria produce substances like lactic acid, preventing the growth of unfavourable strains of yeast and bacteria.
The importance of maintaining a Lactobacillus-dominated vaginal microbiome for maintaining good vaginal health is unequivocal. A vaginas ideal pH level is a slightly-acidic 3.84.5 when its higher , youre at a higher risk of developing a range of urogenital and gynaecological problems like sexually transmitted infections , yeast infections, urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis.
As such, to keep your vaginal microbiome balanced and healthy, you need to ensure the presence of friendly, beneficial lactobacilli bacteria. This is where vaginal probiotics have been touted as a helpful way for keeping our vaginal microbiota in tip-top shape.
Consider Switching Up Your Contraception Method
If you have penis-in-vagina sex and you havent been using protection, condoms might help protect you from recurrent BV as well as unintended pregnancy and STIs. In fact, research suggests condoms could be just as beneficial for stopping BV recurrence as abstaining from sex altogether thanks to the protective barrier they create between you and your sex partner.
Switching up your choice of birth control to a method that contains estrogen may also be helpful, especially if youve noticed that your BV tends to recur when youre on your period. Because menstrual blood has a very high pH, it increases your overall vaginal pH and causes counts of lactobacilli to tank, says Dr. Hemmerling. For this reason, getting your period or experiencing heavier-than-usual periods could increase your risk of recurrent BV if your body struggles to recover healthy amounts of lactobacilli afterwards. In fact, having a copper IUD has been linked to recurrent BV, likely due to the common side effect of increased menstrual bleeding, per a 2020 study in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Think this might be the case for you? Talk to a healthcare provider about hormonal birth control methods. A couple studies show opting for a type of BC that lightens your period or stops it completely might do the trick for recurrent BV.
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Restore Balance To Your Vaginal Microbiome*
The material provided below is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the diagnosis or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. You should always seek medical advice before consuming any new medicines or supplements. AZO products referenced on this website are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease such as overactive bladder, urinary tract infections, or vaginal infections.
Q: How Can I Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis From Returning
A: Because we dont know exactly what causes BV, it can be difficult to say exactly what will prevent it. However, there are a number of measures that may help:
- Condom use: People who use condoms have a lower risk of BV. Although no one has studied whether starting to use condoms decreases recurrence, using condoms may help.
- Hormonal birth control: People who use hormonal birth control have a lower risk of recurrent BV. Again, no one has studied whether starting these would help reduce recurrences, but we sometimes try this if hormones are a safe option for you.
- Avoid douching: Douching can disrupt your healthy vaginal bacterial community and may increase the likelihood of BV coming back.
- Longer-term antibiotics: If youve had three or more documented episodes of BV a year, using vaginal metronidazole twice a week for four months can decrease the chances of your BV returning.
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Q: What About The Other Treatments I Have Heard About
A:Possibly helpful for treating BV:
Not helpful for treating BV:
- Yogurt: There is very little data showing yogurts impact on BV. One study showed that a yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus might help. Yogurt-soaked tampons definitely dont work.
- Douching: People report using vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and solutions with tea tree oil. While douching has been shown to decrease symptoms of BV, in most studies douching is also associated with an increased risk of BV recurrence, higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases and preterm delivery. We strongly advise against douching.
- Vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D in the blood have been associated with a higher risk of BV, but this does not seem to be a cause/effect relationship. There has been one randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation for prevention of BV recurrence . This study showed an increase in blood levels of the vitamin, but showed no benefit for reducing BV.
- Folic acid: There are no studies evaluating whether folic acid has any impact on BV.
- Apple cider vinegar: Some people report that putting some apple cider vinegar in their bath water is helpful, which is perfectly safe. Other people make a drink with a tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water, which is likely to be safe, if not very tasty. However, there have not been any clinical trials that examined the effectiveness of vinegar as a treatment for BV. Never douche with vinegar.
What Different Therapies Can I Take Advantage Of For Bv Does Probiotics Help With Bv
To know the remedy choices out there for BV, its essential to know what this an infection is and what causes it. BV is an an infection that happens within the vagina attributable to an imbalance within the naturally occurring micro organism current on this a part of the physique. The vagina comprises many several types of micro organism some are good, which means they assist to maintain the world clear and wholesome, whereas others are bad and might result in infections. If dangerous micro organism overtake the great micro organism, this causes your physiques pure pH ranges to extend, which may put you at a better threat of creating BV and different infections.
Lactobacilli are one of the crucial essential types of good micro organism. They helps to take care of pH ranges between 3.5 and 4.5 and might kill dangerous micro organism and viruses. If girls dont have sufficient Lactobacilli, they are often extra vulnerable to BV. Signs of this situation can embody a powerful, fishy scent, particularly after intercourse, in addition to skinny, watery vaginal discharge thats greyish-white in color. Nevertheless, its essential to remember that many ladies with BV expertise no signs.
Speaking Of Promoting Bacteria
If youre looking to up your vaginal bacteria count, start a course of Kitty Mollys by Millennial Naturals. These probiotics come as pills and contain ten different strains of healthy vaginal bacteria, 30 billion live cultures, and cranberry extract for a balanced pH. These ingredients help counter unhealthy bacteria and promote digestion and excretion to stimulate the production of healthy bacteria.
These probiotics also have a fair bit of healthy bacteria to prevent vaginal imbalances, infections, UTIs and restore vaginal flora.
Probiotics Can Help Travellers Diarrhea
The Guideline for the Prevention of Travellers Diarrhea by the International Society of Travel Medicine now recommends the use of probiotics to prevent or treat travellers diarrhea. Reid says the group also included research on prebiotics, which feeds good bacteria. Good prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and other healthy veggies that contain loads of fibre.
Get to know more common travel illnessesand how to avoid them.
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Other Ways Of Preventing And Treating Bv
You cannot just treat this condition with probiotics alone. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and changing your diet routine and daily habits play an equally important role over here. Balancing your blood sugar levels and practicing healthy sex are another important things that you need to take into account if you want to successfully combat this problem. Having said that, it is always beneficial to eat, drink and sleep and do all the activities in a healthy manner to prevent such conditions from taking a toll on our lives.
How To Cure Bacterial Vaginosis
There are different bacterial vaginosis tablets, creams, and gels available over-the-counter and by prescription from your doctor. Always consult your care provider and get a diagnosis to make sure that you need medication and are getting the right one.
FACT Asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis does not need treatment.
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Risk Factors Of Bacterial Vaginosis
You may have a higher risk of experiencing BV if you:
- Are sexually active
Douching disrupts the normal bacterial balance. Scented soaps, bubble baths, and vaginal deodorants can all be disruptive to the vaginal microbiome.
Having a new, or multiple, sexual partners increases your chances of getting BV. It is unclear why, but women who have female partners are more vulnerable.
The IUD, or intrauterine device, has been associated with BV, especially if you have irregular bleeding. However, its unclear whether this is a direct cause.
Despite what some people say, swimming pools and public toilet seats are not places where you can obtain vaginal infections like BV.
S Rrna Gene Sequencing And Qpcr
We collected vaginal swabs in duplicate but DNA was extracted from one swab per woman only at each time point : screening , enrollment and four follow-up visits , and self-sampled swabs from 12 women who had been asked to self-sample at home every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the first month . Briefly, DNA was extracted using a combination of lysozyme lysis, Qiagen DNeasy Blood and Tissue kit , and bead-beating procedures . Purified DNA underwent two PCR rounds: amplification of the 16S rRNA gene V3-V4 region and dual-index barcoding allowing multiplexing of up to 384 samples. Samples were sequenced on an Illumina HiSeq2500 instrument , run in rapid mode, 2 × 300bp using a 250PE and 50PE kit. All samples collected from the same participant were included in the same run. Negative and positive controls were incorporated throughout. The panbacterial 16S rRNA gene copy concentrations of physician-collected samples of enrolled women with valid sequencing results were determined by BactQuant qPCR assay as previously described.
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What Are The Best Probiotics For Bv
Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GR-1 is a gram-positive bacterium which is being used as a probiotic and has been used to treat female infections such as Bacterial Vaginosis. It is commonly found in the genital areas of healthy females.
These probiotics, when used as a supplement, will help control the overgrowth of anaerobes during an active infection. L. rhamnosus is commonly found in yogurts and dairy products like fermented milk, unpasteurised milk, and cheeses.
L. rhamnosus may be beneficial to some but in some rare circumstances it can weaken the immune system and cause endocarditis. Before using it, you must consult your medical care provider.
Since probiotic products contain live bacteria, when taking antibiotics for BV you must always remember that the two products can interact with each and the antibiotics will affect the live bacteria in the probiotics, you must take your probiotics at least 2 or 3 hours before or after taking the antibiotic medications.
Lactobacillus Reuteri RC-14 is a gram-positive bacterium that is commonly found in breast milk, genital area, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. It has antimicrobial properties and helps fight off pathogens and other microbiota that can invade a humans body. It is effective in preventing inflammatory diseases. L. reuteri is also effective in fighting off infections and mediating the immune system.
A Solution Springs From Frustration
But sometimes women dont respond to the standard treatments and experience recurrent problems that leave them searching for solutions. Dr. Mitchell says that some women shes encountered are trying not only probiotic supplements, but also alternative treatments theyve found on the Internet. These include putting yogurt-soaked tampons, tea tree oil, and even garlic cloves into their vaginas in an effort to introduce beneficial bacteria. These solutions, she says, are not only ineffective but highly inadvisable.
Its true that a compound in garlic, allicin, has been shown to kill yeast in a laboratory. But you cannot put enough cloves of garlic in your vagina or take enough oral garlic capsules to achieve the same effect, says Dr. Mitchell. Tea tree oil also has no demonstrated benefit and can cause irritation. Yogurt-infused tampons dont work either. Many probiotic supplements and most yogurts do contain Lactobacillus bacteria, but its generally not the same type of Lactobacillus found in your vagina. L. crispatus and L. iners are the most common species found in the vagina. Most probiotics and yogurt contain other species, such as L. rhamnosus or L. acidophilus, which are more common in the gut.
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Vaginal Probiotics: Everything You Need To Know
Like the rest of our body, our vagina is home to thousands of bacteria, both good and bad. As the name suggests, vaginal probiotics are pro bacteria in the sense that they promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your vagina. But what exactly do healthy bacteria do?
Keep reading to learn more about good bacteria and vaginal probiotics.
Probiotics Can Help Prevent Antibiotic
There is evidence suggesting that taking the right probioticsincluding such strains as Saccharomyces boulardii or Bio K+ L. acidophilus CL1285, L. casei LBC80R, L. rhamnosus CLR2may lower the risk of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. One study found that BIO-K+ can prevent and reduce the severity of diarrhea in people receiving antibiotic therapy in a hospital setting, he says.
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Best Probiotic For Bv That Includes Lactobacillus Rhamnosus Gr
Clearly, these two probiotics strains have some promising results for those with BV. If youre looking for a BV treatment over the counter to help improve the efficacy of your medical treatment, probiotics are a wonderful choice. Its an easy remedy that you can administer at home!
Fem-Dophilus from Jarrow Formulas is a great option if youre looking for a probiotic supplement that contains these two strains.
You can also find these same strains in RepHresh Pro B probiotic capsules.
Ideally, I would love these companies to share the exact CFU counts for each individual strain, but none of them do . Both of these options contain 5 billion total CFUs, but they dont specify how much of those 5 billion is coming from each of the strains. If you know of a brand that tells you how much of each strain their supplement contains, Id love to hear about it in the comments!
Which Probiotics Are Best For Bv
Given that BV is an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, it would make sense that increasing levels of friendly bacteria by using probiotic supplements could be beneficial. But which are the best BV probiotics?
Scientists are well aware that different probiotics do different things. The strains to help with BV need to be able to survive transit through the entire length of the digestive tract, then migrate to, and colonise, the vagina.
There is extensive research looking into the efficacy of vaginal probiotics. It is understood that the Lactobacillus genus is the predominant genus of bacteria found in a healthy vagina. So, most studies on probiotics for vaginal health centre around the Lactobacillus species. In this section we look at the following Lactobacillus strains which have been researched for the support of BV:
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Probiotics Can Help Reduce Cholesterol
Probiotics can lower levels of cholesterol, a major driver of heart disease, Reid says. The results are not as dramatic as seen with cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins. But statins tend to have a lot of side effects including muscle wasting, he says. Probiotics dont have any side effects. A review of 15 studies found that, on average, Lactobacillus probiotics reduced both total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol levels, and that two types of Lactobacillus probiotics, L. plantarum and L. reuteri, were particularly effective. Probiotics are not a panacea for high cholesterol by any stretch, and if cholesterol levels are a concern, you need to watch your diet.
Start by avoiding these 10 worst foods for cholesterol.