Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection of the vagina that most commonly afflicts women of reproductive and childbearing age. While in some cases there occurs abnormal vaginal discharge, odour, or itching, in other cases no symptoms manifest. Even though BV is widespread and affects approximately 1 in 3 women, the discussion surrounding it is far from thriving.
In this article, we attempt to change all that. Besides raising awareness about the condition, we also highlight some of the most effective probiotics for BV in the market that have a proven track record of alleviating the infection. Read on to find out more!
A brief introduction to Bacterial Vaginosis
BV is indicated by an aggravation of pathogenic organisms in the vagina. Although the most commonly spotted pathogen is Gardnerella vaginalis, bacteria from other species like Mycoplasma hominis, Prevotella, and Mobilluncus can also be found at the site of infection.
The overgrowth of these malicious bacteria brings down the count of the healthy species of bacteria by a significant margin. Subsequently, this gives rise to a state of bacterial imbalance called dysbiosis. Simply put, hence, BV is dysbiosis in the vagina and the uro-genital tract. A large chunk of bacteria found in the vagina hail from the Lactobacillus genus. Lactobacilli serve the critical purpose of ensuring that the vaginal environment remains healthy at all times. It does so in a host of different ways, notable among which is the production of lactic acid.
Lactic acid, in turn, lowers vaginal pH and maintains it below levels of 4.5, which is considered healthy for the region. An acidic pH goes a long way towards maintaining vaginal health. This is because when the area becomes excessively alkaline, it becomes a thriving ground for pathogenic species of bacteria. Subsequently, as the growth of this bacteria raises the pH of the region, a vicious cycle is set into motion.
Since, in about 50% of the cases, bacterial vaginosis doesn’t exhibit any symptoms, the infection goes unnoticed and untreated by many women out there. However, this can result in dire consequences. In the absence of proper medical care and attention BV can give rise to other complications such as reduced birth-weights (in the case of pregnant women), greater risk of miscarriage, and even reduced fertilitiy. When the symptoms do manifest, they take the form of a thin, white discharge. Additionally, the vaginal region also gives off a pungent and fishy odour.
What causes BV?
There are a number of reasons that can trigger the onset of BV. In a few cases, certain lifestyle factors are attributed as the underlying reasons. They include usage of shower and soap gels in the vaginal area, frequent douching, and the like. Usually these practices cause excessive alkalisation of the region, which in turn makes it a breeding ground for undesirable strains of or pathogenic bacteria.
In other cases, unprotected sex is said to be among the leading reasons that increases the likelihood of contracting BV. In the absence of protection, every new sexual partner exposes the vaginal area to new bacteria. Some of this bacteria might be potentially harmful or pathogenic, thereby leading to disruption of the vaginal flora. To that extent, the vaginal microbiome can also be disturbed by oral sex.
To that extent, the vaginal microbiome can also be disturbed by oral sex. This statement is further substantiated by a recent study, wherein researchers claim to have found a direct connection between oral sex and BV. According to them, Fusobacterium nucleatum, a pathogenic bacteria commonly noticed in cases of dental plaque build-up and gum disease, favors and encourages the growth of Gardnerella vaginalis, the pathogen that is primarily responsible for bacterial vaginosis. The study states the the most plausible explanation for the occurrence of this pathogen in the vaginal tract is through oral sex.
Having said this, BV is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Rather, it is a direct outcome of an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome. However, in the majority of cases, an external cause for dysbiosis is seldom identified. It is believed that the answer to this dilemma can be obtained by exploring the link between the bacterial flora of the female vaginal tract and the gut.
Since the vagina lies in close anatomical proximity to the anus, bacteria from the GI (Gastrointestinal) tract translocate with ease to the vaginal tract. As a result, any pathogenic strain of bacteria that might be present in the former, can easily make its way into the latter. This invasion not only infects the vaginal tract but also causes the delicate balance of the vaginal microbiome to be disrupted. Hence, the best way to steer clear of BV is by maintaining the balance of the vaginal flora.
Do probiotics help BV?
Since at its core, BV is basically an imbalance between healthy and pathogenic bacteria in the vagina, there’s good reason to believe that the use of probiotic supplements would prove to be helpful.
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms which are said to provide health benefits to their hosts when administered in adequate amounts. The use of probiotics for treatment can be dated back to 1907 by Metchnikoff , and followed by Newman (1915) and Löser (1920). As the 1940s saw the advent of antibiotics, probiotics became all but a forgotten hypothesis. Of late, however, the initiation of the Human Microbiome project has sparked a new found interest in this ancient healing technique. Subsequently, the number of clinical trials with probiotic therapy has witnessed a steady rise as well.
That said, the efficacy of probiotic treatment on BV continues to be a hotly debated topic to date. This is because one just can’t simply use an arbitrary probiotic strain to reintroduce beneficial and healthy bacteria to the vaginal tract. The strain needs to be compatible and resilient enough to hold its own while traversing through the entire length of the digestive tract. Successfully migrating to the vagina isn’t enough, the stain should also be able to effectively colonise it as well. Typically, strains of probiotic bacteria that colonise favorably with the digestive tract, fail to replicate the same prowess when it comes to adhering with the lining of the vaginal wall.
While there continues to be extensive research assessing the efficacy of probiotics or probiotic supplements in the treatment of BV, a large chunk of vaginal health studies revolve around Lactobacillus species. This is largely owed to the fact that in a healthy vagina, the primary genus of bacteria that is observed is that of Lactobacillus. The strains that have proven to most effective in clinical trials are Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14®, Lactobacillus brevis CD2®, Lactobacillus salivarius FV2®, and Lactobacillus plantarum FV9®, Lactobacillus acidophilus GLA-14® and Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001®, and Lactobacillus crispatus CTV-05.
How should you take probiotics for Bacterial Vaginosis?
The biggest question that grips one while administering probiotics is this- whether the supplement should be taken orally, or inserted intra-vaginally.
Now, there’s no rule of thumb for this as the delivery method is a matter of personal preference. It depends completely on the discretion of the individual whether they want to swallow a capsule or insert a vaginal suppository. In the case of oral administration, care must be taken to ensure that the correct strains of bacteria are being taken. Any other strain of bacteria besides the designated ones will not be able to survive the journey through the intestines. Once this transit is made, the strains consequently journey from rectum to vagina.
In the event of intra-vaginal insertion, the probiotic supplement reaches its intended decisions very swiftly. Most women prefer swallowing a capsule, however, owing to its ease and convenience. Both methods exhibit the same efficacy in the longer term.
Now that we have discussed how probiotics help tackle BV, let us take a look at some of the most potent probiotics for BV available in the market.
-Feminine Supplement Capsules
RepHresh Pro-B Feminine Probiotic Supplement, is a once-daily oral supplement that contains the L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 strains of probiotic lactobacillus. These strains have been clinically proven to improve vaginal health by balancing the concentration of yeast and bacteria in the vaginal flora.
But if those reasons are not compelling enough for you, then you need to glance once at its array of glowing reviews. Host to a loyal and highly satisfied customer base, RepHresh Pro-B Feminine has been nothing short of a miracle particularly for those who had already staged a prolonged battle with BV prior to chancing upon this supplement. Besides treating immediate symptoms, customers also claim that this supplement has helped them get rid of recurring BV as well.
However, certain users, are apprehensive of taking it due to the presence of maltodextrin in its composition. Hence, the supplement is not advisable for people who have yeast problems. A few reviews have also cited nausea as being a potential side effect of this capsule.
– Vaginal Probiotic
– 30 Day Supply
– Supports Vaginal & Urinary Health
– Yeast Infection & Bacterial Vaginosis Probiotic
– Safe & Effective Daily Supplement
Multiple positive user reviews all claim that Love Wellness’s Probiotic helped them get on top of their BV symptoms and complications in a matter of a few days and weeks. Particularly satisfied with its effects are those individuals who have struggled with BV on and off over a persistent period of time. According to them the consumption of the probiotic not only helped them curb their existing symptoms but also allowed them to fight recurring BV.
– 50 Billion CFU Guaranteed through Expiration, Acidophilus
– Once Daily
– Certified Gluten Free
– No Refrigeration
– 30 Vegetarian Capsules
Available in both daily and targeted condition-specific formulas, Raw Probiotics formulas are widely popular among its users for containing premium quality, diverse strains of high cell count probiotics that promote flora diversity as found in nature.
From BV to YI (Yeast Infection) to UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), user reviews state that this probiotic supplement has helped them resolve all kinds of bacterial infections.
-25 Billion CFU Guaranteed,
-Gluten Dairy & Soy Free,
– 60 Capsules,
-Ultimate Flora Women’s Care
Formulated by probiotic experts and backed by 25 years of women’s clinical research, Renew Life Women’s probiotics for BV are equally cherished by its loyal legion of customers as well. Besides providing support for vaginal health, these probiotics play an active role in preserving immune, digestive, and urinary health as well. What particularly endears this supplement to users is its noticeable absence of side effects, something that is virtually unavoidable with the majority of BV-centric probiotics in the market.
– Windsor Botanicals One Per Day for Complete Feminine Health Care and
-Balanced Vaginal Flora
– 19 Bil CFU
– 30 Non-GMO,
-Vegetarian Supplement Capsules
The composition of Windsor Botanical’s vaginal probiotics has secured lavish praise for itself from its wide customer base. A host of positive reviews point at the fact that the clean and simple ingredients have proved to be super effective in dramatically improving the vaginal health of their users. These supplements are suitable for lactose intolerant individuals too.
-Daily Probiotics for Women
– 30 Count
– Clinically Proven to Help Protect Vaginal Health
– Clinically Shown to Work in 7 Days
Users of Azo complete feminine balance daily probiotic consider it to be a far superior alternative to other BV antibiotics in the market. The high efficacy of this supplement is largely owed to the presence of Intelliflora, which the brand claims is the only clinically proven probiotic blend made up of the 4 species of beneficial bacteria that are most commonly observed in a balanced vaginal microbiome.
-Support Urinary Tract and Vaginal Health,
-50 Billion CFU (7 strains), Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria blend,
Revly’s probiotics for BV have incurred mixed reviews from users. While some claim it be a cost-effective and functionally superior alternative to other probiotics in the market, others say that the consumption of these supplements riddled them with a host of side-effects including bloating, irritability, nausea, and many others.
Although the use of probiotics for BV continues to be a controversial topic, in the past few years their consumption has given rise to a slew of heartening recovery case studies. Hence, it is always advisable that you consult with a certified medical expert and secure a prescription from them prior to using these supplements.