The Sexual Health Center

Maintain Optimal Vaginal Health with These Top Probiotics

Proper hygiene and care are inevitable in self-care. While most of us clean our bodies outside, only a few of us remember to flush out the toxins from the inside. Like other body parts, our genital region also requires special care.

The female genital and reproductive cavity has a particular and complex structure. A healthy vagina is a unique PH-regulated environment with many good and bad bacteria. It does not require any particular or expensive cleaning methods, but it does require consistent care.

Keeping the vaginal environment hygienic and balanced helps the vagina to self-clean. The good bacteria in the vagina keep it healthy and protected. If harmful bacteria grow, it causes illnesses like vaginosis, yeast infection, vaginitis, and much more. Though vaginal health is critical, it has received less academic attention until recently. 

Importance Of Vaginal Microbiome

Vaginal microbiomes are the flora found in the vagina. It is a delicate and detailed micro-ecosystem that contains billions of bacteria and fungi that act as microbiomes. These microbiomes continually fluctuate and evolve during our lifetime. A healthy vagina contains many bacteria and fungi, and the dominance of these in the female body depends on various factors.

This composition would change depending on the age, menstrual period, hormonal factors, and other conditions that affect women’s health. An unhealthy vagina would have a decreased lactobacillus count and be prone to bacterial vaginosis. It causes adverse obstetric and gynecologic repercussions, including sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory diseases, and other undesired outcomes.

Importance Of Vaginal Microbiome

The interaction between the human body and the microbiome ecosystem is homeostatic and interdependent. The human body provides a conducive environment that facilitates and sustains the microbiomes, and in turn, they protect the body against inflammations and unhealthy microbes. When this balance is impaired, the body becomes host to numerous illnesses. The composition of the vaginal microbiome varies between individuals depending on internal and external factors.

Role Of Probiotics In Promoting A Healthy Vaginal Microbiome

The vaginal microbiota undergoes continual and dynamic changes in composition during our lifetime. This depends on a variety of external and internal factors. As discussed earlier, an imbalance in the microbiota of the vagina causes many illnesses. Most women face this problem at least once in their life.

Probiotics’ role in helping maintain a healthy vagina has recently become part of the academic discourse. It has been found that probiotics play a huge role in maintaining vaginal health. Probiotics are artificially induced live microorganisms that, when introduced into the body, helps increases the count of healthy bacteria in the body and help to restore balance.

Probiotics stabilize the vaginal environment and protect the vagina from pathogens and unhealthy microbes. Medical and scientific research has shown that probiotics can help prevent bacterial vaginosis. They treat different kinds of vaginal illnesses and infections.

Probiotics play a significant role in avoiding urogenital diseases in women. Probiotics also improve vaginal atrophy, a common problem among post-menopausal women. It also helps increase the female life span by protecting vaginal health and enhancing fertility in women.       

Factors Affecting The Vaginal Microbiome

As mentioned before, multiple bodily and environmental factors affect the health of the vaginal microbiome. These cause changes in its composition which may lead to an increase and decrease in healthy microbiota.

Factors Affecting The Vaginal Microbiome

Some of the main factors that affect the health of the vaginal microbiome are:

➡️ Age – Age is a vital determinant in caring for the body. As we age, our body undergoes a significant transformation. The ability of the body to heal and repair itself diminishes, and we experience a loss of immunity and essential nutrients. We also undergo physical, psychological, and hormonal changes that affect the composition of the vaginal microbiome.

The vagina also ages like other body parts, and the estrogen deficiency caused as a result affects the vaginal environment. Research shows that post-menopausal women are more prone to vaginal illnesses due to a marked decrease in healthy microbiota in their vaginas.   

➡️ Ethnicity – Our genetic heritage holds a lot of key markers that affect our overall health. Ethnicity is a vital ingredient in determining immunity and affinity toward diseases. In general, the lactobacilli bacteria dominate the vagina microbiome. Studies show that this bacteria is mainly found in Asian and Caucasian women. In contrast, women of African and Hispanic ethnic origin had an increased concentration of vaginosis, including bacteria such as Gardnerella. 

➡️ Hormonal FluctuationsHormonal fluctuations and imbalances cause a significant change in the vaginal environment. The estrogen level is a crucial determinant in such changes. Changes in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or other illnesses or medications may cause hormonal imbalances.

➡️ Immunity – The relationship between our immune system and the vaginal microbiomes is intricate and complex. The vaginal mucosal system in the vagina interacts directly with the microbiomes and regulates them. The vaginal mucosa creates a suitable environment for the microbiomes to thrive in, and the microbiomes keep the vagina healthy and clean, thereby reducing the risk of illnesses. A healthy immune system helps to keep the microbial environment healthy by surveying pathogens and eliminating them.  

➡️ Medications – Medications that cause hormonal changes, affect immunity, and elevate or reduce estrogen levels have a direct impact on the vaginal microbiome also. Hence we must adhere to a healthy lifestyle while consuming such medicines. On the other hand, probiotics are artificially induced live bacteria that boost vaginal health.

As discussed before, this stabilizes the vagina environment and prevents illnesses. Antibiotics are prescribed for a range of diseases, and these have a direct impact on microbial health. Certain studies found that antibiotics positively affect the vaginal microbiome in cervical cancer patients. Research shows that probiotics and antibiotics are the preferred treatment for vaginal illnesses such as vaginal dysbiosis. 

➡️ Stress – Stress is one of the main factors causing imbalances within the body. It affects the body gradually and causes multiple chronic illnesses. Stress suppresses the immune system and makes it susceptible to disease-causing pathogens. Increased stress also changes the vaginal ecosystem and promotes the growth of unhealthy microbiomes. 

➡️ Lifestyle – Our lifestyle is an essential determinant of our health. People who live a sedentary lifestyle with improper sleep and unhealthy food consumption are generally prone to more diseases than others. This is true even in the case of the vagina. Proper physiological and psychological care is a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle. Adequate sleep, a nutritious diet, frequent exercise, and a relaxed mind are all factors that affect physical health. Intake of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, smoking, and unsafe sexual practices are all shown to harm vaginal health.

➡️ Fertility and Pregnancy – Vaginal health has a direct relation to fertility. Though this has been the subject of research in recent times, many people are unaware of the same. The level of healthy microbiomes in the vagina affects its health and boosts fertility. A healthy vaginal microbiome also reduces the chances of sexually transmitted diseases and inhibits the chances of pathogens entering the reproductive organs. An unhealthy microbiome can also cause infection during pregnancy, miscarriages, and preterm birth.  

➡️ Sexual practicesImproper and unsafe sexual practices directly affect our health by introducing disease-causing pathogens into the body. Studies have found that the composition of vaginal microbiomes in women who are sexually inactive or inexperienced varies from women who have had sexual experience.

➡️ Hygiene – Though the vagina is a self-cleaning body part, it requires constant care. It has to be maintained with proper hygiene using safe products. The vagina does not require the use of particular cleaning products as this affects the PH level in the vagina and may alter the vaginal microbiome composition. 

Role Of Probiotics In Promoting A Healthy Vaginal Microbiome

The vaginal microbiota undergoes continual and dynamic changes in composition during our lifetime. This depends on a variety of external and internal factors. As discussed earlier, an imbalance in the microbiota of the vagina causes many illnesses. Most women face this problem at least once in their life.

Probiotics’ role in helping maintain a healthy vagina has recently become part of the academic discourse. It has been found that probiotics play a huge role in maintaining vaginal health. Probiotics are artificially induced live microorganisms that, when introduced into the body, helps increases the count of healthy bacteria in the body and help to restore balance.

Probiotics stabilize the vaginal environment and protect the vagina from pathogens and unhealthy microbes. Medical and scientific research has shown that probiotics can help prevent bacterial vaginosis. They treat different kinds of vaginal infections and illnesses. Probiotics play a significant role in avoiding urogenital diseases in women. Probiotics also improve vaginal atrophy, a common problem among post-menopausal women. It also helps increase the female life span by protecting vaginal health and enhancing fertility in women.       

Best Probiotics For Healthy Vaginal Microbiome

Many probiotics affect vaginal health. These probiotics contain live bacteria which are induced into the body artificially. Most probiotics include the dominant lactobacillus bacteria. This is needed to maintain acidity in the vagina so the microbiomes have a stable environment.

Some critical species of lactobacilli studied for probiotic use are L. acidophilus, L.amylovorus, L. casei, L. crispatus, L. delbrueckii, L. gallinarum, L. gasseri, L. johnsonii, L. paracasei, L. plantarum, L. reuteri, and L. rhamnosus

Lactobacillus crispatus

These bacteria are commonly found in fermented foods. It helps to break off food for better absorption of nutrients and helps improve immunity to reduce diseases. It is used to prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections. Pre and post-menopausal women can consume the probiotic.  

Lactobacillus jensenii

It forms almost 23% of the vaginal microbiome. It helps break down food, absorb nutrients, and improve immunity. It also prevents bacterial vaginosis, HIV, and pelvic inflammatory disease.  

Lactobacillus gasseri

This bacteria is very commonly found in probiotics and dietary supplements. It breaks down food, absorbs nutrients, and improves immunity. It prevents bacterial vaginosis, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, endometrial pain, and irritable bowel. 

Lactobacillus fermentum

It is commonly used to treat urogenital illnesses in women. Apart from this, it also reduces cholesterol, improves immunity, reduces inflammation, and improves gut health and liver damage. It also helps in protecting the body from viruses and boosts overall immunity.

Bifidobacterium lactis

The bacteria is commonly understood to be a very nurturing bacteria. It improves immune functions and betters our digestive process. It also benefits the gut, skin, and respiratory system. 

Saccharomyces boulardii

Though it is mainly used to improve gut health, it is also found to improve vaginal health and prevent pathogen entry. 

Incorporating Probiotics For A Healthy Vaginal Microbiome

Probiotics can be induced into the body naturally through our diet and artificially via supplements and medication. 

Probiotics Sources

◼️Probiotic supplements 

We have already discussed the role of probiotics in protecting and improving vaginal health. These probiotic supplements usually contain strains of healthy bacteria described above. These supplements are taken orally and are generally safe to consume. Once consumed, it introduces live bacteria into our body and increases the number of good bacteria in the vagina, thereby improving vaginal health. 

◼️Probiotic foods 

The best foods that promote vaginal health and the growth of healthy microbiomes are fermented foods or foods that naturally aid in the production of probiotic bacteria. This includes yogurt, kimchi, pickles, sauerkerat, miso, kombucha, dairy products, whole grains, root vegetables, citric fruits, nuts, legumes, beans, berries, and fish. To protect health, it is best to avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, fried foods, junk foods, and foods that cause inflammation. Also, it is best to avoid too much salt intake. 

◼️Probiotic vaginal suppositories

Suppositories are medicines encased in a small piece of solid melts at body temperature. You can insert it via the rectum, vagina, or urethra. This enables the product to be directly administered into the bloodstream. Vaginal probiotic suppositories are found online and offline to induce probiotic bacteria into the body artificially.

Final Words

A healthy mind and body are much needed for a good living. This cannot be achieved solely by caring for the self from the outside. Every day our body gets exposed to numerous toxins and stress-inducing situations. While the effects may not be immediate, gradually, these create a lasting impact on our system and causes an imbalance in the body.

It destroys and impairs the ability of the body to heal and rejuvenate itself. The human body is composed of countless microbiota that serve different functions. The female body hosts billions of microbiomes in the vagina. As we have already discussed, this is dominated by the lactobacilli, which maintains the PH of the vagina and stabilizes the vaginal environment.

A healthy vaginal ecosystem is dominated by good bacteria that improve immunity and protects vaginal health. Any change in the composition of the microbiomes due to external and internal factors leaves the vagina open to different illnesses.   

Probiotics are live bacteria introduced into our bodies through food, supplements, or suppositories. These probiotics boost the count of healthy microbiomes and improve vaginal health. They are also used to treat vaginal and other related illnesses.

To improve our overall health, it is not just sufficient to live a healthy life, but we have to ensure that we live a healthy and hygienic life. As we age, we must take care of our bodies and give them the extra nutrients and requirements it needs. So, to protect our vaginal health, we must include probiotics in our daily diet.

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