Let’s face it, we’re definitely shy when it comes to talking about our health “downstairs”. We beeline to Dr. Google before asking a friend or doctor (hey no judgment by the way – it’s probably how you ended up here!) However, for all the great information the World Wide Web has to offer, there’s also some pretty misleading advice circling the net, especially with regards to vaginal health. You may have noticed on the rise this year are vaginal health supplements at all ends of the scale – from luxuriously ludicrous to supposedly clinical, “gynaecologist-approved” supplements.
Below we set the record straight on whether women actually need a supplement for vaginal health…
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Following on from the skincare for ‘down there’ trend, we’re increasingly seeing women’s wellness products targeted at maintaining optimum vaginal health. It’s quite contradictory to everything we’ve been told our whole lives by health professionals – “don’t use scented products down there”, “the vagina is self-cleaning”, the list goes on – it begs the question, is this just another marketing ploy to take advantage of women’s insecurities or is there real merit here?
There’s proof in probiotics
Probiotics are healthy bacteria strains found naturally in some foods – yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso soup – and in nutritional supplements. We know taking probiotics has a host of benefits, particularly when it comes to digestive health. However, more recently, health experts have begun to consider the potential benefits of probiotics on vaginal health. It appears that at least one strain of probiotic, lactobacillus acidophilus, could help prevent and treat vaginal imbalance issues like bacterial vaginosis.
How it works
Ok let’s get down to the nitty gritty – more than 50 different species of tiny organisms (called microbes) live inside your vagina. Many of these microbes are a type of bacteria called lactobacilli. These bacteria help keep the vagina healthy and free of infection. Research has found that a healthy gut microbiome plays an integral role in neutralising bacterial imbalances in the vagina, which can lead to yeast infections and UTIs.
A disruption in the microbe can cause an imbalance in the vagina. This can occur for a number of reasons, including:
- Unprotected sex
- Hormone fluctuations
- Poor hygiene habits
- Irritation (often from body care products)
Symptoms can include discharge, unusual odour, discomfort and itching.
According to a Harvard Health article, consuming probiotics might prevent the overgrowth of harmful organisms that cause recurring bacterial vaginosis.
While unpleasant, vaginal infections are extremely common – but if recurring a probiotic may help / Freepik
Here’s what we also know: Lactobacillus, found in Vitally’s Multi-Flora Probiotic, is a type of good bacteria that lives in your vagina. It keeps things in the normal pH range, and can help you avoid infections. It’s worth noting though – a probiotic isn’t going to completely prevent you from getting vaginal infections or having irritation. It also won’t treat an active infection; you will need antibiotics or antifungals for that. For women with recurring infections or irritation, a daily probiotic is often recommended to help balance out bad bacteria in the vagina and decrease the risk of reoccurrence.
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