The Best Probiotics for Vaginal Health
Have you noticed that the more our medical technology seems to advance, and the more expensive our medical bills get, the less healthy our society seems to be? Many people around the world have begun to look around and realize that our “there’s a pill for that” solution to just about anything has not led to a healthier society, and so they are beginning to turn to non-medicinal methods to try to take their health into their own hands.
As such, there has been a surge in people seeking out probiotics, both to help keep themselves healthy and to bolster their body’s natural defenses when they become ill. Probiotics for women's health have grown in popularity, as we have begun to discover that not only are some bacteria good for you, but that the flora in a woman’s vagina can be tied directly to her vaginal health, which in turn is tied directly to her overall health.
How can probiotics support vaginal health?
Did you know that there are over 50 different types of microbes that live in a woman’s vagina? Just as with the human digestive tract (and much of the rest of our body as well), vaginal health is led by a constant tug-of-war between “good” and “bad” bacteria, each vying for control.
Many of these microbes are lactobacilli, one of the “good” microbes that helps keep the pH balance of a woman’s vagina at the appropriate level (below 4.5) for vaginal health, prevent fungus from growing inside of her ecosystem, and keep other, harmful, bacteria from growing to high enough levels to cause discomfort or health issues.
There a are a few main imbalances of these microbes that are pretty common for women:
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Yeast infection
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Many of these imbalances are caused by a lack of lactobacilli, and an overgrowth of some other kind of microbes within the woman’s vagina. These often have a cascading effect, as the lactobacilli and pH both help keep the vagina free from harmful microbes, but when one begins to get out of balance, the other follows and those harmful microbes may begin to proliferate.
A pH balance under 4.5 means that a woman’s vagina is acidic. While you may think that this is a bad thing, many of the foods that we love are acidic (grapes, blueberries, plums, peaches, etc), and this pH balance helps keep her vagina in good health by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
There are a few main reasons that may lead to these imbalances:
- Unprotected sex with a male partner
- More than one sexual partner or a new sexual partner
- Too much sugar in her diet
- Hormonal changes
- Poor hygiene
- Her menstrual cycle
- Douching or rinsing with soap & water (the vagina is naturally cleansing, and this may kill off the good bacteria)
- Some antibiotics
The most common issue caused by vaginal imbalance in women of childbearing age is Bacterial Vaginosis, which happens when there are a large number of different bacterial strains within a woman’s vagina. Women in good vaginal health have low numbers of fewer bacterial species within their vaginas. This proliferation of different bacterial strains will cause the pH balance of her vagina to raise above 4.5, which further reduces the number of (good) lactobacilli present, allowing more of the (bad) bacteria to proliferate.
Yeast infections are another common vaginal imbalance issue, and are often caused by the proliferation of a fungus called Candida Albicans. Candida is also present when a woman is in optimal vaginal health, but the issue arises when this fungus begins to proliferate and outnumber the other microbes like lactobacilli.
Trichomoniasis is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) that infects up to 3.7 million Americans at any given time (as reported by the CDC). While this is an STI and not directly caused by the vaginal microflora being out of balance, already having a vaginal imbalance such as Bacterial Vaginosis can greatly increase your chances of catching Trichomoniasis.
Another common issue that may affect a woman’s vaginal health is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). These are more prevalent in women than men because their urethras are shorter than mens. While UTIs are not typically caused by the same bacteria or fungus that cause vaginal infections, being in good vaginal health may help a woman’s body to naturally prevent UTIs from occurring.
Can probiotics help prevent vaginal issues?
You can think of the flora in a woman’s vagina almost as if it were the armor that a knight wears into battle. It won’t prevent every single strike from any type of weapon on the planet from causing serious damage, but it will prevent most of the bad bacteria from growing too great in numbers and smaller problems just the same. Just as with the knight’s armor, however, there are always the heavy weapons that can get through no matter how sturdy that armor is.
Our bodies truly are magnificent machines, and people are beginning to realize just how strong our immune systems and natural, biological systems are when we keep our bodies in prime condition. Just like an expensive sports car, however, if you put the low octane gasoline into the tank, you are going to end up on the side of the road with some major damage (sooner rather than later)!
And this gets to the crux of the issue: our society has become prone to putting very bad things into our body. We don’t sleep enough, we stress out (probably more than any previous generation ever did), and we hardly ever eat as well or exercise as much as we would like to.
Probiotics help to alleviate some of those issues. Stress does major damage on all of our bodily systems, as our bodies remain in a “fight or flight” mode as long as we are under stress. This may seem like a regular part of our lives now (stress), but in terms of physiological response, any time your body is under high levels of stress (which can also include poor sleep or diet), it thinks that it has to divert its normal systems to conserve energy, oxygen, and blood for an impending emergency.
Probiotics won’t relieve the stress that your daily commute, potential financial issues, family drama, or mean boss may be putting you through, but it does help to put more of that high octane fuel into the Ferrari that is your body. Probiotics help to put more of those good bacteria into your body, but not all probiotics are made alike. In terms of women’s health, there are some particular probiotic strains that are seen by health professionals as the best for vaginal health. They are:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus reuteri
The health benefits of vaginal probiotics aren’t just some urban legend that the 1960s-era new age Whole Foods supplement clerk talks about - these are backed up by medical studies that show their benefits. Experts believe that the strains listed above are the best vaginal probiotics because they may stick to the vaginal walls and make it more difficult for the harmful bacteria to grow.
Some experts also believe that Lactobacillus may also stick directly to harmful bacteria, killing them and preventing them from spreading any further. To get an adequate amount of probiotics to help your vaginal health, it is recommended that you take probiotics that contain at least 1 billion Colony Forming Units (CFUs). Any decent probiotic for vaginal health should have anywhere from 1-10 billion, but there are some on the market that do not have anywhere near that number.
A small 1996 study concluded that women who ate probiotic yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus were less likely to get Bacterial Vaginosis than women who did not, and they were also found to have higher levels of Lactobacillus bacteria in their vagina. There are some who will tell you that eating probiotic yogurt doesn’t necessarily prove that the probiotics will aid your vaginal health, but this study proved them incorrect.
Another 2006 study tracked giving antibiotics and probiotics containing Lactobacillus to women who already had Bacterial Vaginosis. Half of the group was given only antibiotics to treat, while a quarter were given antibiotics plus probiotics, and the other quarter were given antibiotics plus a placebo. The cure rate in the women taking antibiotics plus probiotics was 90% at 30 days, while the placebo group had only a 40% cure rate.
Yet another small study tested giving women who had Bacterial Vaginosis only probiotics as treatment, and found that probiotics on their own were enough to both cure BV and allow the women to maintain the appropriate levels of good bacteria for their optimal vaginal health.
Vibrant Health Probiotics for Vaginal Health
If you are looking for probiotics specifically for your vaginal health, Vibrant Health has a line of products that contain both the appropropriate strains and in more than adequate amounts. If you are looking for vaginal probiotics to increase your vaginal health, click any of the links below to take you to their store to have a look at their delicious vaginal probiotics.
Let’s go through a few of them now:
U.T. Biotic for Urogenital Health
First on the list is U.T. Biotic for Urogenital Health. This vaginal probiotic provides 25 billion probiotics from seven strains known to be beneficial for urogenital health, plus 150mg of cranberry whole food extract per serving. It contains both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, two of the strains best known for their benefits to vaginal health. Cranberry concentrate will help prevent and fight UTIs, making this an optimal probiotic for vaginal health.
Green Vibrance wasn’t created just for vaginal health, but it does contain the probiotics necessary to help a woman to maintain it. With 25 billion CFUs of probiotics including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (b), this probiotic supplement is also packed with micronutrients to help keep your body in tip-top shape.
Maximum Vibrance includes all of the probiotic and micronutrient benefits of Green Vibrance, with 25g of protein, antioxidants, and enough benefits to be your daily a plant-based multivitamin. Maximum Vibrance is available in great flavors like chocolate, chocolate coconut, vanilla, or matcha tea, and comes in a convenient & easy to store pouch.
While the promises that we make to ourselves on New Year’s day every year always sound attainable with our rose-colored glasses on, the reality of life often makes it far too difficult to keep up with the things that we know we should be doing to help increase our health.
Thankfully the current whole food and plant-based revolutions have helped more people begin to understand that nature has often provided us with the tools that we need to achieve our optimal health, even in terms of vaginal health.
A woman’s microflora is a delicate symphony that must be kept in harmony and balance to maintain the appropriate levels of good and bad bacteria, and our society is often not very conducive to that balance. If you are looking for a way to keep your vaginal health at an optimal mix without having to take a pill or drastically changing your life, Vibrant Health has provided a way for you to do so by simply drinking a great tasting & healthy dose of their probiotic supplements every day.
You can view and buy all of their vaginal probiotics using this link to our online store, and be on your way to optimal vaginal health in the time it takes you to mix a probiotic drink!