Vaginitis and Probiotics


Shhhh…not too loud! Women don’t usually talk about it, but the struggle with returning vaginitis is real for many.  Up to 30% of women ages 14-49 in the U.S. have some kind of vaginitis each year. That’s 21 million women each year [1].

What is vaginitis and what causes it?

Vaginitis or vaginosis are two names for the same problem, an inflammation of the vaginal tissues caused by a disruption in the normal balance of bacterial residents that typically live in the vagina [2].

Symptoms of vaginitis can  include itching, changes in color, odor and amount of vaginal discharge as well as painful intercourse or urination [2].  Occasionally, vaginal bleeding or spotting occurs.

The root cause of vaginitis can be the overgrowth of certain bacteria and this is typically called bacterial vaginosis or BV. An overgrowth of vaginal yeast is called a vaginal yeast infection.  Other causes of vaginitis can be related to hormones, or the sexual transmission the unwanted bacteria such as chlamydia or gonorrhea or a parasite called trichomoniasis [2].

Hormonal changes due to menopause, pregnancy or contraceptive use can also be a cause of vaginitis. Other risk factors include a high sugar diet, corticosteroid use, obesity or diabetes [3, 4]. Tight fitting clothing that restricts air flow can also influence the development of dysbiosis, or imbalance, of the vaginal microbiome. A large portion of yeast infection cases, up to 35%, typically follow a course of antibiotics [3, 4].

The use of perfumed douches or wipes can often exacerbate the problem, further irritating this sensitive area.  Many women don’t even know that they have an issue, but think that these odors and symptoms are just a normal part of life.

Lactobacillus is queen of the vaginal microbiota.

Usually, the good bacteria Lactobacillus dominates the normal vagina.  When this dominance is disrupted, vaginitis or bacterial vaginosis occurs.

Lactobacillus bacteria perform important functions in the vagina such as stimulation of the immune system.  In addition, Lactobaccilli limit the proliferation of some of the ‘bad’ bacteria that cause vaginitis by producing antimicrobial substances, decreasing the pH through the production of lactic acid and competing for resources like sugars or binding sites.

H2PRO™ boasts two Lactobacillus strains, L. acidophilus and L. paracasei, in our proprietary blend of 7 billion CFU’s per packet.

What role do probiotics play in the treatment of vaginitis?

Probiotics are a good alternative for women who experience recurrent vaginitis, as well as for healthy women seeking a supplement that helps maintains the body’s microbial balance.

Studies suggest that long courses of oral probiotics are successful in lengthening remission from recurrent episodes of vaginitis [5]. One study saw remission lengthen by 51% through the use of oral probiotics with three Lactobacillus strains [6].

Most studies finding successful results with oral probiotics use 1 billion CFU’s or more.  Each packet of H2PRO™ has 7 billion CFU’s of four probiotic species, two of which are Lactobacillus.

Additional lifestyle changes that can help decrease the frequency of vaginitis include decreasing refined dietary sugars, eating a diet high in fiber, exercise, drinking plenty of water and adding a probiotic to your life [4].  Incidentally, all these things contribute to whole body health and a healthy gut!

#LoveYourGuts, Love your Lady Guts with H2PRO™!

Subscribe to H2PRO™ and get monthly deliveries of a probiotic.

*If you are having symptoms of vaginitis you should consult with a medical professional or primary care physician for accurate diagnosis of your condition.  This blog does not constitute medical advice and patients should proceed with recommendations from their doctor.

Citations

1- Mayo Clinic

2- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

3- Falagas et al. (2006) Probiotics for the recurrence of vulvovaginal candidiasis: a review. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 58(2): 266-272.

4- University of Maryland Medical Center, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide

5- Mastomarino et al. (2013) Bacterial vaginosis: a review of clinical trials with probiotics. New Microbiologica. 36: 229-238.

6- Heczko et al. (2015) Supplementation of standard antibiotic therapy with oral probiotics for bacterial vaginosis and aerobic vaginitis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. BioMedCentral Women’s Health 15: 115. DOI: 10.1186/s12905-015-0246-6

 

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