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Are Probiotics Good for Vaginal Health?

Are Probiotics Good for Vaginal Health?

A healthy vagina plays a crucial role in overall wellness. The vagina hosts a dynamic microbial ecosystem that can be disrupted by infections, hormonal changes, products, medications, and sexual activity. When the system falls out of balance, uncomfortable symptoms can develop like discharge, odor and itching.

An emerging body of research now shows that probiotics can help restore and maintain the optimal function of the vagina. Read on to learn more about the vaginal microbiome and why vaginal probiotics are beneficial to improve vaginal health.

Understanding the Complex Vaginal Microbiome

The vagina is home to a diverse community of microbes including bacteria and yeast, collectively known as the vaginal microbiota. The specific composition at any given time is termed the vaginal microbiome. In healthy reproductive-age people, good bacteria belonging to the Lactobacillus genus make up over 70% of the vaginal microbiome. Multiple Lactobacillus species thrive in the vagina including:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus

These good bacteria play protective roles by:

  • Converting glycogen from vaginal cell exfoliation into lactic acid. This lactic acid helps maintain an acidic vaginal pH around 3.5 to 4.5
  • Producing hydrogen peroxide and bacteriocins that inhibit the growth of pathogens
  • Blocking adhesion sites so bad bacteria cannot latch onto vaginal walls

When Lactobacillus dominance exists, risk of infections stays low [1]. A healthy vaginal microbiome also contains low levels of other beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium. Together they form a thriving microbial community that keeps harmful overgrowth in check.

External Factors Can Disrupt the Vaginal Microbiome

Unfortunately, many factors can reduce good Lactobacilli and allow pathogenic anaerobes like Gardnerella and Prevotella to dominate. This altered state is linked to bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection risk. Some disruptors include [2]:

  • Excessive douching
  • Scented cleansers, soaps, or deodorant sprays
  • High estrogen states (pregnancy)
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Semen exposure
  • Use of IUDs or vaginal rings
  • Medications like antibiotics

Restoring Lactobacilli levels rebalances vaginal flora to prevent these symptoms. This is where probiotics for pH balance and vaginal health prove beneficial.

6 Benefits of Probiotics for Vaginal Health

Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed by populating the gut and vagina. Clinical studies demonstrate probiotics can improve vaginal health by [3]:

  1. Increasing levels of protective Lactobacilli to reduce vaginal infections
  2. Producing lactic acid to maintain healthy acidic pH below 4.5
  3. Preventing and treating bacterial vaginosis
  4. Reducing yeast vaginitis
  5. Enhancing immune response against pathogens
  6. Decreasing recurrence of UTIs

For sustained benefits, daily vaginal probiotic supplements are preferred over other forms of probiotics like yogurt. 

Best Probiotic Strains for Vaginal Health

With all the vaginal health probiotic supplements today, it helps knowing which specific strains clinically support vaginal wellness. Recent studies point to four species of Lactobacillus bacteria as most beneficial [3]:

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus - Boosts healthy vaginal flora; reduces risk of bacterial infections in people prone to BV and yeast. Oral L. rhamnosus GR-1 capsules increased favorable Lactobacilli levels in the vagina.
  • Lactobacillus reuteri - Shown to increase antimicrobial compounds that fight off harmful bacteria. Also reduces vaginal yeast levels to resolve vaginitis.
  • Lactobacillus crispatus - Maintains protective low pH through lactic acid production. Also displaces problematic gram-negative anaerobes. Lowers BV recurrence when restored after antibiotics.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus - A vaginal isolate, L. acidophilus proliferates in the low pH environment. Its biosurfactants inhibit adhesion and growth of yeast fungi.

What to Look for in a Probiotic Supplement

With so many options, it can get confusing choosing an optimal probiotic. Use this checklist when evaluating supplements especially for vaginal health:

✔️Strains - Contains clinically-validated species like L. rhamnosus, L. casei

✔️CFUs - At least 15 billion live organisms per serving

✔️Allergen-free - No additional additives

✔️3rd party tested - Verified quality assurance and CFU count

✔️Money-back guarantee - Ensures quality and results

Avoid products listing an unspecified “Lactobacillus blend” that aren’t specific about the composition of the probiotic.

How to Incorporate Probiotics into Your Routine

Follow these tips to effectively integrate probiotics for sustained vaginal wellness:

  • Take daily as supplements to continually seed good flora
  • Eat prebiotic fibers to feed good flora like onions, garlic, and bananas
  • Add probiotic foods like kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut
  • Stay hydrated to support circulation to cervicovaginal tissue
  • Avoid irritants like scented cleansers or fragranced pads
  • Have your partner take probiotics to limit the reintroduction of bacteria
  • Check expiration dates and store away from moisture

A holistic approach calls for clean period products that pair well with healthy lifestyle factors. This comprehensive strategy helps maintain the natural protective mechanisms of the vagina.

The Takeaway – Probiotics Support Your Intimate Health

The vagina hosts a delicate microbial ecosystem that is prone to disruptions leading to infections, discharge and odor. An expanding body of research demonstrates probiotics can effectively restore healthy vaginal flora. Daily menstrual supplements containing clinically-validated strains can support healthy vaginal pH, reduce yeast infections and  overgrowth, resolve bacterial vaginosis, and prevent urinary tract infections.

Always consult your doctor before beginning probiotics to discuss appropriateness for your individual health status. But for most people, targeted menstrual supplement bundles can optimize intimate wellness without side effects. By balancing your vaginal microbiome naturally with probiotics, you support whole-body health and quality of life.


[1] Liu P, Lu Y, Li R, Chen X. Use of probiotic lactobacilli in the treatment of vaginal infections: In vitro and in vivo investigations. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2023 Apr 3. Date accessed 2024 Feb 26.

[2] Lewis FMT, Bernstein KT, Aral SO. Vaginal Microbiome and Its Relationship to Behavior, Sexual Health, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Obstet Gynecol. 2017.  Date accessed 2024 Feb 26.

[3] Mei Z, Li D. The role of probiotics in vaginal health. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2022;12:963868. Published 2022 Jul 28.  Date accessed 2024 Feb 26.

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