Probiotics And Women's Health
Bacteria might not sound like the sort of thing you want hanging out in your lady bits, but believe us, the right kind of “good” bacteria can do an amazing job at helping to maintain vaginal health.
Good bacteria and your vagina
Your vagina is home to a complex ecosystem of bacteria, which works hard to keep everything in balance. The main bacterial strain is Lactobacillus, which attaches itself to the vaginal lining to form colonies of healthy microbes. These groups help fight off “bad” bacteria, which can lead to vaginal discomfort.
When bacteria goes bad
While your body works hard to keep a healthy amount of good bacteria in your vagina, things like stress, pregnancy and sexual practices can upset the equilibrium. If things go a bit off-side, it can contribute to vaginal flora imbalances.
Maintaining healthy vaginal microflora
So, what can you do to keep the good microflora colonies on fighting form? Firstly, forego perfumed soap, vaginal wipes, vaginal deodorants, feminine gels and anything else designed to keep you “clean” down there. Your vagina is not meant to smell like a bed of roses and these items can upset the balance of good bacteria. Wash with water and unperfumed soap, and definitely don’t douche.
Secondly, support your body’s level of good bacteria by eating probiotic-rich foods, such as fermented products like sauerkraut and kefir, and some dairy products like yoghurt. You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement, particularly one that contains Lactobacillus strains, as this means it’s beneficial for women’s health. Swisse Ultibiotic Women’s Flora Probiotic contains a combination of two clinically-trialled strains, Lactobacillus rhamnosus (GR-1) and Lactobacillus reuteri (RC-14). It helps balance and maintain healthy vaginal microflora and supports urinary tract health to relieve vaginal discomfort.
Always read the label. If symptoms worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your healthcare professional. Follow the directions for use. Supplements can only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate.
- Reid G, Beuerman D, Heinemann C, Bruce AW. Probiotic Lactobacillus dose required to restore and maintain a normal vaginal flora. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2001;32(1):37-41. doi:10.1111/j.1574-695X.2001.tb00531.x
- Nansel TR, Riggs MA, Yu KF, Andrews WW, Schwebke JR, Klebanoff MA. The association of psychosocial stress and bacterial vaginosis in a longitudinal cohort. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006;194(2):381-386. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2005.07.047
- Freitas AC, Chaban B, Bocking A, et al. The vaginal microbiome of pregnant women is less rich and diverse, with lower prevalence of Mollicutes, compared to non-pregnant women. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):9212. Published 2017 Aug 23. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07790-9
- Hooton TM, Roberts PL, Stamm WE. Effects of recent sexual activity and use of a diaphragm on the vaginal microflora. Clin Infect Dis. 1994;19(2):274-278. doi:10.1093/clinids/19.2.274
- Cribby S, Taylor M, Reid G. Vaginal microbiota and the use of probiotics. Interdiscip Perspect Infect Dis. 2008;2008:256490. doi:10.1155/2008/256490