We’ve got a lot to take in when it comes to our everyday lives. A lot of us are juggling a career, kids, school, a social life, hobbies, and other things. With all of these demands, it’s easy to put our health on the back burner. Plus, when we do think of our health, we usually think of keeping a sound mind, a healthy body, and clear skin. However, we shouldn’t forget that we should also try to have a healthy vagina. Just like sleeping eight hours a night and not eating too much junk food, we should also make an effort to take extra steps for our vaginal health. Probiotics are one way to take that extra step. Although they’re extremely popular for improving digestion, researchers also believe that probiotics just might be good for our vaginal health as well.
First, What Are Probiotics?
So, you’re probably wondering, what exactly are probiotics? Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” with tons of health benefits. Usually, when people think of probiotics, they think of how probiotics help the digestive tract, but they do more than that too. When consumed, they boost our gut environment, helping us to have a healthy balance of bacteria.
When it comes to gut health, you don’t want too much of a good or bad thing, even with bacteria. And if you’ve learned anything about gut health, then you know that what happens with your gut impacts your entire body, including your vagina.
Are Vaginal Probiotics Really A Thing?
The short answer is yes, and they’re becoming very popular. Vaginal probiotics help with keeping the vaginal microbiome balanced and thriving. Though the science on vaginal probiotics is still in early development stages, early research shows that these probiotics are key to helping control the vaginal ecosystem and help vaginal bacteria flourish.
Vaginal probiotics typically come in pill form or as suppository capsules. The latter involves inserting the capsule into the vagina using an applicator. From there, the suppository helps to prevent and treat imbalances in the vagina. As mentioned before, you don’t want too much good or bad bacteria. Our vaginas need a little bit of both to keep a normal pH balance and a healthy vagina.
Vaginal Probiotics and pH Balance
The vaginal environment thrives at a quite acidic pH of 3.8 to 4.5. And believe it or not, many different factors can throw that pH balance into a funk. By elevating the vagina’s pH balance, good bacteria may go down, and harmful bacteria thrive. Here are a few of the things that can overthrow your pH balance for the worst:
- Douching: We want to smell good, but water (which has a pH balance of 7) and other fragrances can throw the vagina’s pH balance into a funk.
- Medications: Think of birth control, antibiotic treatments, etc.
- Periods: Say it isn’t so, but high alkaline in the menstrual blood can cause a significant imbalance in the vaginal environment.
- Sex: Now, really say it ain’t so! Unprotected sex with the exposure of the vagina to sperm can cause an imbalance. Sperm has a pH of 7.1 to 8. They don’t teach you that in health class!
- UTIs and Yeast Infections: Enough said. Both of these afflictions can throw your pH levels off
Gynecologists recommend gently daily cleansing with unscented, pH balanced products that contain no harsh soaps or chemicals. And Lily Bird cleansing cloths fit that bill to a tee. Give ’em a try.
Probiotic Strains for Vaginal Health
A little probiotic strain called Lactobacillus acidophilus is the most well-known to achieve a healthy and balanced vaginal ecosystem. The other two runner-ups are lactobacillus rhamnosus and lactobacillus reuteri. Medical experts believe these strains actually stick to vaginal surfaces, prevent the growth of bad bacteria, and possibly kill bad bacteria that already exist.
Though the research on the effects of probiotics on vaginal health is still early, some studies have shown that probiotics maintain a healthy vaginal environment. For example, a study done in 2016 showed that using vaginal Lactobacillus supplements after taking antibiotics stopped the overgrowth of bad bacteria in people with bacterial vaginosis (BV). It also significantly reduced vaginal pH levels.
Your Everyday Diet
A diet rich in whole foods, grains, fruits, and veggies can help maintain a healthy vaginal environment. Did you know these foods are referred to as prebiotics? This means they help promote the growth of healthy probiotic bacteria. For example, bananas, oats, and garlic are some of the most well-known foods that contain prebiotic compounds.
If you are looking to get probiotics from foods, turn to foods such as yogurt/kefir, tempeh, and kombucha Probiotics and a good diet filled with a variety of beneficial options can help you maintain the most optimal vaginal health.
Probiotics and The Vagina
It happens to all of us. We think we’re eating right, maintaining good hygiene, and then out of nowhere, we get an itch or a sense of discomfort down there. Luckily, vaginal probiotics are an emerging new boost to help maintain a healthy and thriving vaginal ecosystem. Though the research is early, some studies have shown that probiotics may become an essential factor for vaginal health.
To maximize your vaginal health, consider taking probiotics, eating probiotic and prebiotic foods, and taking the essential steps to feel your best self.
Want to keep your vagina healthy and balanced? Lily Bird‘s flushable feminine wipes are gynaecologically tested and perfectly pH balanced. Try them today.
By Jessica Thomas, MPH