Because the vagina is a moist and dark environment, overgrowth of harmful organisms can be a serious problem. There are three primary sources of irritation to the vaginal area which can affect women at any time, even if they are not sexually active. Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and unbalanced pH.
Yeast infections or thrush occur as a result of the Candida Albicans variety of yeast growing out of control in the vaginal area. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when unfamiliar bacteria outnumbers the colonies of good bacteria that live in the vaginal area.
Unbalanced pH can result from anything as simple as using the wrong soap, to wearing underwear that isn’t loose enough. Though each ailment is incredibly different, their symptoms can all be treated with the use of probiotics.
Why Take Probiotics for Vaginal Health
The balance of good bacteria which is naturally present in the vagina can easily be disrupted.
Supplementing with probiotics, particularly those which contain the essential bacterial cultures for vaginal health, is an excellent way to ensure your body always has the healthy bacteria it needs to keep your vagina healthy, and your immune system in good working order. (source)
How to Choose the Best Probiotics for Vaginal Health
There are specific bacterial cultures which are responsible for protecting the vagina and outlying tissues from attack by overgrowing yeast or harmful external bacteria. When choosing a probiotic specifically for vaginal health, you should be sure that the product not only has these particular bacteria, but also that the amounts are sufficient for your purposes.
The bacterial cultures which have been shown to specifically target the unwanted yeasts and other invaders include Lactobacillus and Acidophilus. These helpful bacteria work in tandem to create an ecosystem which is incredibly resistant to unwanted yeasts and pathogens. (source)
What to Look For
Some companies may produce probiotics claiming to be useful for vaginal health based on their lactobacillus or acidophilus content. Only products which contain both types of bacteria are useful to women seeking to ward of infections or maintain their natural flora.
Lactobacillus alone has been touted in the past as a potent yeast killer, however these claims are based on clinical trials performed on cows. (source) Once the trials advanced to human testing, it was determined that on its own, this bacterial strain only puts in minimal effort to protect the vagina from unwanted pathogens.
The Best Way to Use Probiotics for Vaginal Health
First, begin by assessing your need. Younger women who are healthy generally need fewer billion live cultures. Older women, and women who are more sedentary produce less healthy bacteria so a higher dosage may be required.
Additionally, those experiencing a health issue such as a yeast infection might benefit from a higher amount of live cultures.
Diversity is the key to making probiotics work. The more active strains within each product the better. Make sure not to confuse the number of strains with the number (in billions) of live cultures a product contains.
Strains are the different types of helpful bacteria present, while the amount of live cultures determines how much of each strain is present. While some women might only want to take a lower dose probiotic such as 10 billion live cultures, they should still consider a product which has many different active strains.
Many are skeptical about the benefits of purposely ingesting live bacteria. They believe that healthy flora maintains itself and doesn’t require outside help. This is true in most cases, when an individual is healthy and has not taken any bacteria disrupting medications.
However, in this modern age of antibiotics, where they are generally prescribed for all manner of ailments, even when unnecessary, many have found that their natural stores of healthy bacteria are all but depleted.
Women in particular suffer the most from antibiotic overuse because it does not take much to completely dismantle the protection built up by healthy vaginal flora. Some women suffer from recurring yeast infections even when they have not taken an antibiotic in years, because their helpful bacteria are no longer strong enough to fight off yeasts.
This video details how probiotics work in the gut to kill pathogenic bacteria:
There are so many different companies producing probiotics these days it can be difficult to decide which product to choose. Even companies who specialize in women’s health may not produce the highest quality supplements of this type, so knowing a little more about what makes each product great is a good way to make the best choices for your body and your wallet.
The following products are some of the most popular on the market for dealing with vaginal health issues.
And the Winner is…
All in all, the clear winner has to be Renew Life Ultimate Vaginal Probiotic. It is perfectly suitable for women who are not experiencing any sort of vaginal infection, while at the same time being a powerful enough supplement to combat even the most virulent cases of yeast overgrowth.
10 distinct bacterial strains provide a diverse array of protection from yeast and unwanted pathogens. At the same time 50 billion live active cultures give these strains the numbers they need to form strong and lasting colonies. Renew Life Ultimate Vaginal Probiotic is the most complete product of those discussed in this guide.