More recently, health experts have begun to consider the potential benefits of probiotics for vaginal health. The scientific evidence is not conclusive. However, it appears that at least one strain of probiotic, L. acidophilus, could help prevent and treat vaginal imbalance issues like bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Experts say more research is needed.
“There has been promising research in the past few years indicating that probiotics may be effective in treating some conditions precipitated by changes in vaginal pH balance,” says Mindy Haar, PhD, RDN, CSN, of the New York Institute of Technology’s Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences.
More than 50 different species of tiny organisms (called microbes) live inside your vagina. Many of these microbes are a type of bacteria called lactobacilli. These bacteria help keep the vagina healthy and free of infection.
Having a vaginal imbalance may also increase your chances of a urinary tract infection (UTI). However, it’s important to note that UTIs are not always caused by the same pathogens that cause vaginal infections.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
The most common Trusted Source vaginal imbalance issue is bacterial vaginosis (BV). Women with BV have high numbers of many different species of bacteria in their vaginas. Healthy women have lower numbers of fewer species of bacteria in their vaginas.
Yeast infection is another type of vaginal imbalance issue. Most cases of yeast vaginitis are caused by a fungus called candida albicans. Other types of fungus may also cause this condition.
Usually, growth of fungus is kept in check by good bacteria. But an imbalance of vaginal bacteria, especially having too little lactobacillus, can cause fungus to grow out of control inside the vagina.
Getting back in balance
Experts say no conclusive evidence shows that probiotics are effective at preventing and treating BV or other conditions related to vaginal imbalance. Currently, antibiotics remain the recommended treatment for these conditions.
“As it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treat underlying causes, the recommendation to take a probiotic in supplement form should be made by the healthcare provider only after a complete assessment and proper diagnosis of the condition is made,” says Haar.
When to see a doctor
Usually, conditions caused by vaginal imbalance are mild to moderate, and don’t cause severe health problems. However, BV and yeast infections can cause serious discomfort if left untreated. And you should always seek quick treatment for a UTI to avoid possible complications.
If you’ve recently had sex and notice itching, burning or other unusual symptoms in your vaginal area, you should also talk with your doctor. You could have a sexually transmitted infection, such as trichomoniasis.