We know that the vagina houses tiny organisms called microbes. We also know that these microbes, most of which are a type of bacteria called lactobacilli, help keep your vagina healthy and free from infections by inhibiting the growth of certain harmful bacteria.
However, imbalances may occur, which could lead to changes in your vagina’s pH levels. This imbalance creates an opportunity for bad bacteria to grow, which can cause odor, irritation or inflammation, and infections.
The Bad: UTI and Other Infections
UTI, a common infection that affects millions of women worldwide every year, happens when bacteria goes into your urinary tract through the urethra and then proceed to multiply in your bladder.
Another common vaginal infection is bacterial vaginosis. It’s caused by an overgrowth of certain types of anaerobic bacteria. It’s usually accompanied by:
- A fishy odor
- Milky or gray-colored vaginal discharge
- Pain and itching
- A burning sensation when urinating
Other infections, like yeast infection, are common occurrences that affect millions of women. Given the high prevalence and high recurrence rates of these infections, it stands to reason that you can benefit from some measure of preventive protection.
The Good: Probiotics and Vaginal Health
We recognize probiotics as the good bacteria that helps with our digestion. Aside from benefiting our gut health, these probiotics can help boost our immune systems. But, there’s a particular strand of probiotics that can help treat and even prevent vaginal bacterial imbalance.
Lactobacillus and You
Lactobacillus, a “friendly” probiotic bacteria, produces natural disinfectants that help keep your vagina’s natural pH levels. They also keep your vaginal environment healthy by warding off harmful bacteria and other pathogens that may cause infections.
To get your daily dose of probiotics, you can try some of the following:
- Yogurt. Yogurt is a fermented dairy product known to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. The probiotics found in yogurt can help regulate your digestive system, boost your immune system, and decrease occurrences of constipation and bloating.
- Kimchi. This is a popular Korean side dish made by fermenting leafy vegetables using lactic acid bacteria. Eating kimchi regularly can improve your immunity by increasing your body’s defenses against bad bacteria.
- Kombucha. A fermented tea, kombucha is loaded with probiotics, antioxidants, and polyphenols, which work to promote proper cell functions and help you stay healthy.
- Kefir. A fermented, probiotic-rich milk drink, kefir is also rich in calcium and protein. Different kefir varieties may contain varied strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts in their grains.
- Miso. A good source of copper, protein, and zinc, this fermented food is also rich in probiotics that promote a healthy gut microbiome. The beneficial bacteria in miso also aids in synthesizing the vitamins that can be found in your gut.
Probiotic supplements are also available in capsule form. There are even probiotics specifically for bv prevention.
Maintaining vaginal health can help prevent the spread of infections. Probiotics can help you with that. Before taking any form of supplement, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor first.