Probiotics have been studied to promote gut health, boost the immune system, and treat different bacterial infections. In some of its studies, probiotics were observed to bring about promising results in treating vaginosis – a common condition in women during their reproductive years.
Let us learn more about probiotics for vaginosis.
Table of Contents
- Vaginosis defined
- Bacterial vaginal infection causes
- Bacterial vaginosis discharge
- Other symptoms of BV infection
- BV infection diagnosis
- Bacterial vaginosis treatment
- Probiotics for vaginosis evidence
- Preventing vaginosis
Vaginosis, also known as bacterial vaginosis (BV), is a type of vaginal inflammation resulting from a bacterial imbalance in the female organ. BV can affect women of any age, but it is more likely to occur during their reproductive years.
Bacterial vaginal infection causes
A bacterial imbalance mainly causes BV. The lactobacillus, a type of good bacteria, keeps the female organ slightly acidic to prevent the harmful bacteria from growing. Once the level of lactobacillus drops, harmful bacteria levels increase, causing bacterial vaginosis. Sometimes, there is just an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
There can be many causes for such imbalance, but some are not clearly defined. The following are the most common causes of vaginal bacterial imbalance:
- unprotected intercourse with a male partner;
- hormonal changes;
- poor hygiene habits;
- douching; and
- wearing underwear that is not breathable.
Bacterial vaginosis discharge
Some women who suffer from bacterial vaginosis may not show any symptoms at all. However, if they do, vaginal discharge is most common.
Different vaginal discharges
Discharges are normal for women. These vaginal discharges vary according to smell and color, depending on the time of the month and conditions, such as pregnancy and ovulation. However, when you have bacterial vaginosis, you may notice a new kind of discharge accompanied by a foul smell and other symptoms. The discharge is usually white, green, or gray in color with thin consistency.
Causes of smelly discharge
As mentioned above, discharges vary in odor and are usually normal. But, you can get distinctively smelly discharges when you have vaginosis because of the overgrowth of bacteria. This smell usually becomes worse after intercourse as semen alters the acidity level of vaginal fluids.
As mentioned above, discharges vary in odor and are usually normal. But, you can get smelly discharges when you have vaginosis because of the overgrowth of bacteria. This smell usually becomes worse after intercourse as semen alters the acidity level of vaginal fluids.
Smelly discharges may also be caused by other conditions apart from vaginosis. These include poor hygiene, tampon left for several days, and infections like trichomoniasis. Rarely, an abnormal vaginal odor may also be caused by cervical or vaginal cancer.
Bad smelling discharge remedies
To cure foul-smelling discharge, you need to know what is causing it. Visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. In the meantime, be sure to observe proper hygiene to minimize the smell. Use mild soap and warm water when washing.
Bad odor discharge complications
Foul odor discharge caused by poor hygiene may lead to infections as bad bacteria levels grow. In cases of vaginal infections, the bad-smelling discharge itself will less likely cause complications. However, untreated issues may put you at a higher risk for other health problems, including other bacterial infections, pregnancy difficulties, low birth weight babies, and reproductive system-related diseases.
Other symptoms of BV infection
Apart from vaginal discharge, some BV infection symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- Pain, itching, burning, or other discomforts;
- Foul fish-like vaginal odor, especially after intercourse; and
- Burning feeling while urinating.
BV infection diagnosis
It is best to consult a specialist if you suspect you have vaginosis. During the appointment, expect the doctor to perform a physical and pelvic examination to see signs of the infection. The doctor may also take a sample of vaginal secretion and test your vaginal acidity (pH) level. Finally, your specialist may ask questions about any history of related infections to diagnose vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis treatment
Your doctor will prescribe medications that will treat bacterial vaginosis and suggest practices that will help prevent bacteria from overgrowing.
Common bacterial vaginosis cure
Common treatments for vaginosis include oral medications like Metronidazole and Tinidazole, as well as creams like Clindamycin. These are all prescription medicines; therefore, they are not available for purchase over the counter or online.
BV treatment over the counter
Healthline also shares alternative home remedies that may help treat vaginosis. These include yogurt, probiotic supplements, garlic supplements, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, and boric acid capsules. You may buy these items over the counter.
Hastening BV treatment
A great way to hasten vaginosis treatment is to avoid trapping vaginal moisture, which increases bad bacteria. Your doctor may advise you to avoid the use of tight pants. You can also use cotton underwear, which is more breathable than those made of spandex, silk, satin, or other fabrics.
Probiotics for vaginosis evidence
Many studies have shown that probiotics can be used in treating and even preventing BV. Probiotics may be in the form of food (yogurt), capsule, and vaginal suppositories.
One research showed that lactobacillus probiotics applied either in-vitro or orally increased the production of certain good bacteria, such as lactic acid. This inhibited the growth of the bacteria that causes BV, restored the bacterial balance, and cured the infection.
Other similar small studies have also shown the same observations. One study showed that the cure rate was more remarkable when antibiotic treatment was supplemented with probiotics than antibiotics-plus-placebo treatment.
In terms of prevention, a study observed that women who ate yogurt that contains lactobacillus acidophilus were less likely to get infected with BV than women who did not consume the same.
Prevention is always best. To avoid being infected with vaginosis, consider the following tips:
- Avoid douching as it may disrupt vaginal bacterial balance and cause infections. Instead, wash it water alone or with a very mild soap.
- Avoid using irritants like scented pads, scented tampons, and fragrant soaps.
- Use a condom during intercourse and limit the number of your partners. Better yet, abstain from intercourse to avoid infections.
- Practice good hygiene, such as wiping from front to back after using the bathroom and changing your pads or tampons frequently during the day.
- Take probiotics, such as probiotic supplement capsules and yogurts.
- Wear cotton underwear, which is more breathable than other fabrics like spandex, which traps moisture and increases harmful bacteria.
- Avoid wearing tight pants that also trap moisture.
Vaginosis bacterial infection is caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. It can cause very uncomfortable symptoms like vaginal pain, burning feeling, and smelly discharge. The good thing is that you can treat BV with prescription medicines and alternative treatments like probiotics. Probiotics contain lactobacillus, a type of good bacteria observed to help restore the bacterial balance and treat the infection.