A Guide to Probiotics and Vaginal Health

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If you’ve got a vagina, you know that it can be tough to maintain the delicate balance that keeps everything down there healthy and happy. As scientists learn more about the communities of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on and in our bodies (also called our microbiome), it becomes clearer that having a healthy mix of microbes is important. We will talk about common issues affecting vaginas and some supplements for good vaginal health.

What Is Vaginal Health?

First, let’s talk about what the vagina is. The vagina is the interior muscular canal that connects the vulva (the designated female sex organs visible on the exterior of the body) to the cervix and uterus deeper in the body.

Vaginal pH (how acidic something is) can also be affected by the health of the microbiome and the health of the microbiome can be affected by the pH, so supporting this delicate balance is important.¹ There are many issues that people with vaginas cope with on a daily basis, and probiotics may be a way to help naturally balance pH levels.

Issues with vaginal health can affect more than just basic comfort. Because of more minor issues such as itching or irritation, they can also affect sexual desire, self-image, and even fertility and illness. If you are having concerns about your vaginal health, be sure to get checked out by your doctor to rule out issues that need immediate medical attention, such as sexually transmitted infections or conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis.

Common Vaginal Health Issues

The two most common issues affecting vaginal health are candida overgrowth (also called yeast infections) and bacterial vaginosis (also called BV).

Yeast infections are characterized by a white cheesy discharge and often intense itching. They can be brought on by use of antibiotics, too much sugar in the diet, or hormonal changes. Changes to the microbiome of the vagina allow for an overgrowth of the fungus candida, which then creates the symptoms.² While over-the-counter treatments are available, it is easy to end up ping-ponging back and forth with recurring overgrowths occurring after treatment ends.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) often causes a fishy odor and may present with a gray or milky discharge. BV is the most commonly occurring vaginal issue, especially between the teen years through to menopause. Also believed to be caused by changes to the vaginal environment that cause an imbalance allowing certain bacteria to flourish, pH levels and microbiome health are important factors.

Probiotics Help Balance Vaginal pH

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The body of research on the vaginal microbiome continues to grow. Researchers have found evidence that the use of probiotics, both orally or vaginally, may help to improve the health of the vaginal microbiome and reduce the incidence of both yeast infection and BV.³

Probiotics can be taken orally where they will help not only the gut microbiome but also travel to the vagina where they can help improve the vaginal environment and may prevent recurrence of yeast infection and BV.

Some products are meant to be used in the vagina as a douche or suppository, which can reduce overgrowth of certain microbes or increase the acidity of the vaginal environment.

Here at Forrest Health, we provide a variety of products to help support good vaginal health. Check out our selection of products today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/vaginal-ph-balance#normal-ph
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-yeast-infection#causes
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2662373/

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