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Vaginal Probiotics: What Are They and How Do They Benefit You?

By: Sandra Ortiz

Vaginal probiotics are microorganisms that help maintain the vaginal flora and reduce infections such as bacterial vaginosis, one of the most common among women. We interviewed Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Greenville, Mississippi, to explain what they are, how to get them and why they are important for maintaining vaginal health.

Are you one of those women who deal with a vaginal infection every month? If so, you’ll be happy to know that there are supplements you can take daily to improve the health of your vagina. Yes, we’re talking about vaginal probiotics! Here we tell you what they are and how they can help you improve vaginal health, as told to us by OB-GYN Lakeisha Richardson.

1- How do you define vaginal health?

Vaginal health is a vital part of a woman’s overall health. Vaginal problems can affect women’s quality of life, as they can lead to infertility, pelvic pain, or pain during intercourse. They can also generate problems of self-esteem and self-confidence.

2- What are the characteristics of a healthy vagina?

A healthy vagina is a “happy vagina!” The characteristics of a healthy vagina are that it has a pH of 3.8 to 4.5, it has minimal odor and produces a clear or whitish discharge, and it has no symptoms of itching or burning.

3- Why are certain bacteria important for vaginal health?

Bacteria such as lactobacillus are important for vaginal health because they help create an ecosystem that protects the vagina.

4- Can you tell us more about lactobacillus?

Lactobacillus are positive bacteria that help promote vaginal health because they produce hydrogen peroxide and lower the pH. They also produce bacteriocins (a toxin synthesized by a bacterium to inhibit the growth of similar bacteria). In other words, lactobacillus helps inhibit the overgrowth of potential pathogens or bad bacteria and fungi.

5- What are vaginal probiotics?

Vaginal probiotics such as RepHresh Pro-B supplements (sold in pharmacies) contain lactobacillus (good bacteria) that help maintain a healthy vagina. Vaginal flora can be easily altered by antibiotic use, sex, douching or vaginal lubricants. Taking one probiotic a day helps maintain a healthy vagina and prevent infections like bacterial vaginosis or yeast.

6- How can we get the necessary probiotics beyond supplement use? Is there another way?

Probiotics are only found in supplements designed specifically for vaginal health. Probiotics designed to promote gastrointestinal health do not help the vagina because they contain different bacteria. Unfortunately, there are no other supplements available, however, it is recommended to increase the amount of yogurt in our diet to promote vaginal health.

7- What should we avoid to improve our vaginal flora?

Women should avoid douching if they want to improve vaginal health. The reason is that douching decreases the amount of good and bad bacteria in the vaginal flora, which increases the risk of getting an infection. Another thing to avoid is the use of harsh chemicals and soaps in the vaginal area, as well as deodorants or sprays. In addition, the use of condoms is always recommended to avoid vaginal infections. Finally, women should seek treatment immediately in case of any vaginal problem. Self-diagnosis could lead to inappropriate treatment. This is important because a vaginal infection that is left untreated for a long time can have long-term consequences.

About the author: Sandra Ortiz

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Sandra Ortiz Juárez studied Communication Sciences in her native Mexico and obtained a master's degree in Audiovisual Journalism in Spain. She has worked on radio, television and in digital media such as AOL Latino, Mamás Latinas and in the magazines Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres, where she served as digital director. She has interviewed celebrities such as Carolina Herrera, Isabel Toledo, Natalia Jiménez, Luis Fonsi, William Levy, among many other personalities. In her free time she likes to dance and experiment in the kitchen. She confesses to being addicted to the internet and sushi.

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