Probiotics can hardly improve your vaginal health, claims study

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Your vagina is inhabited by both good bacteria such as lactobacilli and bad bacteria. Both of these help to maintain the pH balance down there, promoting the growth of good bacteria. However, this balance can be thrown off by unsafe sexual intercourse, douching, using scented products, etc. In such a situation, it is typically advised to eat specific foods that can support good vaginal health. One of the most recommended foods is probiotics.

Probiotics are good bacteria that can assist the body in eliminating toxins and killing harmful bacteria by producing natural antibiotics and can restore the balance of good bacteria. As a result, many medical professionals concur that probiotics are beneficial for both the vaginal and the digestive system.

However, according to a latest study, probiotics are inefficient in keeping your vaginal health in check.

Probiotics are packed full of healthy bacteria. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s what the study says about probiotics and vaginal health

Probiotics that include “good” bacteria are becoming more popular as a means of treating women with vaginal microbiota imbalances. However, a recent study from the Zealand University Hospital’s ReproHealth Research Consortium indicates that probiotics do not improve harmful vaginal flora when given vaginally to women daily for 10 days prior to fertility treatment. These women did not differ much from those taking a placebo.

But you should not stop consuming probiotics yet

We’re saying this because, regardless of whether they (the women in this study) continued to take probiotics or not, symptoms improved in more than a third (34 percent) of all trial participants after one to three months. That’s why, for patients with a “unfavourable” vaginal microbiome, the authors speculate that delaying reproductive treatment until a normal balance is reached may be useful.

Principal investigator Ida Engberg Jepsen said, “The ‘spontaneous’ improvement rate observed among patients may provide grounds for a change in approach towards IVF timing.” She added, “The specific vaginal probiotic tested in this study had no effect on the favorability of the vaginal microbiome before IVF. That’s why further research is needed. But probiotics, in general, should not yet be discounted.”

Be cautious if you think of going for vaginal probiotics. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s what an expert has to say

“While it is a well-known fact that probiotics can be beneficial for gut health and digestive issues by aiding the growth of good bacteria, the same cannot be said for the vagina,” says Deepti Lokeshappa, Msc food science and nutrition, Senior Consultant-Clinical Nutritionist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru.

There is almost no conclusive evidence that probiotics improve vaginal health. There are, however, many probiotic products in the market that claim to improve healthy bacteria in the vagina, but they should be viewed with a dose of skepticism. In case you are suffering from any vaginal issues, the best course would be to seek the help of a medical professional instead of going for probiotics.

To treat issues related to vaginal health, women should seek treatment from their doctor, who may recommend appropriate antibiotics or antifungal treatments, suggests Lokeshappa.

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