Vaginal infections can be a problem even for those practicing healthy habits in their hygiene and diet. The most common vaginal infections include candida (thrush), bacterial vaginosis and other yeast infections, as well as sexually transmitted infections.
Common symptoms of vaginal infection include vaginal itching, burning, irritation, redness and swelling, often accompanied by a discharge that may have an unpleasant smell. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat these infections, but unfortunately they are the opposite of probiotics. Antibiotics kill off the good bacteria along with the “bad” bacteria causing the infection. Antibiotics prescribed for other health issues, such as a chest infection can similarly destroy the good bacteria in the gut and vagina, leading to an outbreak of thrush or other vaginal infection as an unwelcome side effect. There has to be a better way to balance bacteria and prevent vaginal infection outbreaks.
Related: The Power of Probiotics
Study on Oral Probiotic Supplements
A study looked at the effect of oral probiotics on the presence of good bacteria in the vagina. The study was on 60 pre-menopausal women who were given oral probiotics daily for 14 days followed by a seven day period when the probiotics were stopped. Vaginal swabs were then taken from the participants to see how the orally administered probiotics had affected anti-microbial activity.
The study showed that the presence of beneficial “friendly” bacteria in the vagina had significantly increased in those administered orally with healthy probiotics, compared to the placebo group.
The Benefits of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus
The bacteria found to have increased due to probiotic supplementation included Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus and B Bifidobacterium lactis, which are all effective against pathogens responsible for causing vaginal infections.
Healthy habits and a balanced diet should encourage “friendly” bacteria to thrive and counter infection naturally. However, taking antibiotic medications and eating a diet high in sugar can upset the acidity and balance of bacteria in the vagina. This can lead to recurrent outbreaks of yeast infections such as thrush and other vaginal infections.
As well as preventing and treating vaginal infection, good bacteria are also known to promote overall health and well-being by boosting the immune system and lowering anxiety. Bifidobacterium aids digestion and can help avoid the need for antibiotic treatment against infection, which can cause diarrhea as a side effect. Lactobacillus acidophilus is particularly effective in treating and preventing vaginal yeast infections. All these benefits make a good case for including probiotics in your diet as one of nature’s healthy habits to fight off infection.
Include live yogurt containing L. acidophilus in your diet, and or take probiotic supplements. Both are healthy living tips for treating and avoiding vaginal infections without the need for medications.