Vaginal Health Begins in the Gut
Alright, we’ve oversimplified this a little; however, there is definitely a correlation between the presence of healthy Lactobacillus species within the gut and the dominance of similar Lactobacillus species which populate a well-balanced vaginal microbiome.
The explanation for this relationship is that orally consumed probiotics upon excretion reside within the neighbouring skin surface, then ascend the vaginal tract. This rationale for transfer is similar to the inoculation of pioneer probiotics critical for immunity which are acquired by infants during vaginal childbirth. The intestinal tract is home to approximately 800 different probiotic species, with the vagina hosting about 50 resident probiotics, primarily belonging to the lactic acid–producing Lactobacillus genera.
Lactic acid–producing probiotic species serve many roles for intimate health. Primarily, they adhere to the epithelial surface of the vagina and urinary tract to crowd out harmful microorganisms. Once established, they thrive as they produce lactic acids to lower pH levels, along with the antimicrobial hydrogen peroxide which works synergistically to deter opportunistic Candida overgrowth and bacterial vaginosis.
Clinical trial results have shown the probiotic species L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, and L. fermentum to be beneficial to reduce recurrence rates of urinary tract infection. Oral consumption of L. plantarum and L. fermentum, and their ability to subsequently colonize the vaginal microbiome, have been further proven by microbiological analysis of specific strains.
The vaginal environment is dynamic yet fragile. Its delicate balance can be disrupted by many factors including menstrual cycle, antibiotic use, vaginal douches, systemic Candida overgrowth, and spermicidal lubricants, to name a few. Intervention with vaginal suppositories has definitely earned a therapeutic niche for acute vaginal infections.
The research validating probiotic supplementation for general and immune-system health is proven and has led to the emergence of condition- and gender-specific formulas. High-potency, enteric-protected probiotics containing primarily Lactobacillus strains deliver benefits within the gastrointestinal tract and contribute to healthy vaginal flora. They’re definitely worthy of consideration for long-term general and intimate female health.
Gordon Raza, BSc
As the technical writer for Flourish, Gord shares his
unique perspective on natural health products, nutrition,
and active living.