This vaginal probiotic could be exactly what your vagina needs
Quick answer: Nope! There are actually probiotics out there for your-wait for it-vaginal health. But here's the thing: You can't pop the same probiotics you use for your gut, for your vagina-that's because the healthy bacteria down there isn't the same as the bacteria in your colon.
That's why I recommend RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic Feminine Supplement to some of my patients.
If you're hesitant about taking a pill for vaginal health (orally-these things aren't meant to be inserted into your vagina), bear with me, because there's definitely science behind this one.
Here’s what we know: Lactobacillus 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 (like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, or urinary tract infections).
But sometimes, that balance becomes...unbalanced, which creates an opening for other bad bacteria to proliferate, which can result in odor, irritation, or even those pesky infections.
Pro-B, however, has the specific strains of lactobacillus (L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14, to get technical) that normally populate your vagina. And it can really help some women put their bacterial balance in the optimal range for a healthy, happy vagina.
Seriously-this probiotic has helped so many of my patients. But one story in particular comes to mind.
One of my patients-a healthy, thirty-something woman-came to me saying she had "constant" yeast infections and was using over-the-counter treatments almost weekly.
A microscopic examination of her discharge showed that yeast was not the problem, but rather bacterial vaginosis. I gave her a course of antibiotics and her irritating discharge cleared, but returned one month later.
I gave her another course of antibiotics, but also suggested she start taking the daily oral vaginal probiotic-along with an over-the-counter RepHresh Vaginal Gel after her period and after having sex to help maintain a normal vaginal pH. When I saw her one year later, she was still infection free.
Listen, I know there are limitations here, and I'm always realistic with what women can expect when it comes to their vaginal health. This probiotic isn't going to completely prevent you from getting vaginal infections or having irritation. It also won’t treat an active infection-you might need antibiotics or antifungals for that.
To be clear, I don’t tell every woman to do this (also: probiotics can definitely add up cost-wise). And honestly, vaginas really are self-cleaning, meaning that most women are able to maintain a healthy balance and don’t have problems.
Still, for women with recurring infections, odor, or irritation, I tell my patients that it's perfectly reasonable to try things like this probiotic that can help you repopulate your vagina with healthy bacteria (and hopefully decrease your risk of recurrence).
But-and this is a big but-if you try these remedies and still aren't seeing any improvements, then yes, absolutely go back to your doctor. We are always here for you.
Lauren Streicher, M.D., is a clinical professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and author of Sex Rx. She is also the founder and medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause.
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