Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition among women that occurs when the vaginal balance of bacteria gets thrown off. It has many potential causes, and it may occur in women who are not sexually active. It refers to a case where harmful bacteria in the vagina outnumber helpful, protective bacteria.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria that help protect the body, keeping it healthy and safe from harmful bacteria. They are sometimes called good bacteria, in contrast to the idea many people have of bacteria as inherently harmful. They are increasingly popular as a way to stay healthy, and can be found in yogurt, kombucha and supplements. They are best known for replenishing health bacteria in the digestive system and are often recommended to improve gut health. They also include bacteria that is beneficial to the vagina, however. Probiotics supplements can be included as part of how to prevent a UTI. A supplement routine will help keep harmful bacteria out of the urinary tract.
Microbiome of the Vagina
The microbiome of your vagina includes several types of bacteria that are beneficial to your health, keeping it healthy and preventing infections. It includes more than 50 species to keep things balanced. Lactobacilli are a vital type of bacteria in the vagina that protect it from other microbes. Some of the things that can disrupt this natural biome and cause bacterial vaginosis are:
- Sex without a condom
- Douching the vagina with soap or cleaner
- Shift in hormones
- Poor hygiene
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
BV is caused by a whole range of reasons. It occurs when some outside change upsets the microbiome and causes the proliferation of harmful bacteria, so that it outnumbers good bacteria. Women with BV have a wide array of bacteria species in their vaginas, while healthy women have only a few species. More species of bacteria means a higher pH level in the vagina, which kills off more of the helpful bacteria. It also causes:
- Unpleasant odor
- Pain during urination
- Gray or whitish discharge
If left untreated, bacterial vaginosis can leave you vulnerable to other infections and complications. It creates vulnerable, raw skin in the vagina, which leaves you more susceptible to STDs, including HIV. It can also increase the likelihood of premature delivery and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Using Probiotics to Treat Bacterial Vaginosis
Yogurt is recommended as a home remedy for BV because it contains probiotics. Probiotic supplements contain more probiotics and can be taken in a convenient tablet or liquid form. Taking daily probiotic supplements has been proven to work as both treatment and prevention for bacterial vaginosis. Probiotic supplements replenish the good bacteria in your vagina to restore balance and make the area healthy again. If you have been taking antibiotics for any reason, such as chronic UTI treatment, these supplements will help you build up beneficial bacteria again to protect your vagina. They can help with preventing UTIs after sex, too.
Probiotics cannot cause bacterial vaginosis, and in fact are a useful treatment for the issue. If you suspect you have BV, consult your doctor and ask if probiotic treatments are the best option for you.