Carla Toft, C.N.M.
Birthing Centers, Midwifery, Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB-GYN), Women's Health
Speaking of Health6 contributors to bacterial vaginosisMarch 01, 2019
Probiotics can do more than aid digestion. They also may be helpful for women with recurring vaginal infections. Probiotics are microorganisms that provide a variety of health benefits. Your body has a natural balance of various types of bacteria. Probiotics are good bacteria that can help your body maintain this balance. The most common bacteria used in probiotics are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
Studies have shown that regularly taking oral probiotics may help prevent recurring vaginal infections, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginitis. Women who take probiotics are less likely to have recurring or symptoms of infections.
Probiotics can be taken in a variety of ways, including:
- As a dietary supplement in a gel capsule you can swallow
- As an ingredient added to dairy products, such as yogurt
- Inserted vaginally
Probiotics must be living to work. Keep these tips in mind:
- Not all yogurts contain live bacteria, so be sure to read the label. Some products say they contain probiotics, but pasteurizing and other processes kill the bacteria.
- Live probiotic capsules should be stored in your refrigerator and can be taken at twice per day.
- Look for probiotics that contain at least 15 billion bacteria and have multiple types of bacteria.
Probiotics can improve your health. Consider these precautions:
- Probiotics are considered a dietary supplement and are not standardized by the Food and Drug Administration, so the types of bacteria and amount may vary between products.
- Not all products that list probiotics on the label actually contain them.
- Antibiotics kill probiotics. Wait two hours after taking an antibiotic before taking your probiotics.
- You should not take probiotics or other dietary supplements containing live bacteria or yeast if you have a serious illness or weak immune system.
Remember: A supplement cannot replace healthy habits. Follow these tips to maintain feminine hygiene:
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoid a high-sugar diet.
- Wear 100% cotton underwear, and avoid tight-fitting pants.
- Change your underwear whenever it is damp or unclean.
- When bathing, use a fresh washcloth and mild soap that is not antibacterial.
- Wipe from front to back.
While more research is needed to determine best practices, probiotics have been shown to be linked to healthy feminine hygiene. Before taking any supplement, talk with your health care provider.