Jamie Lee Curtis has been pushing consuming yogurt packed with it for years now: Probiotics. They're the "good" bacteria our bodies love which have been shown to aid digestion, boost immunity, and regulate our bodies. Since not all bacteria in our bodies are good bacteria, foods rich in probiotics and supplements are available to help us outweigh the bad with the good.
But what about probiotics for our vaginas?
Probiotics have benefits for everyone, but for women, the benefits may help control common feminine health problems. Beneficial microbes help keep the vaginal area somewhat acidic, creating a hostile environment to infectious bacteria. Also, an imbalance of beneficial flora and pH levels are conducive for yeasts to infect and grow. Urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis are also commonly associated with a deficiency in positive gut flora. So it's actually quite beneficial for women to consume probiotics on a regular basis.
Probiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria that fights the bad, compared with antibiotics which kill all bacteria (including the good guys). Vaginitis is also an irritating condition that results in unpleasant discharge and itch. Fortunately, probiotics have also shown promise in approaching this condition by fighting the main causative bacteria, Gardnerella vaginalis.
So which probiotics are best for women?
You’ll find plenty of brands and options to choose from on drugstore shelves or online, so research is necessary (you can aways, always ask your gyno for his or her advice) if you want to find the right kind for your body's needs. It's important to keep in mind when selecting a brand that the quality and effectiveness can vary from brand to brand since supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA.
There are plenty of bacteria options. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are the most common, according to the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology study. The different species tend to treat different issues. Bifidobacterium infantis, for example, has been shown to more effectively lessen IBS than any other probiotic, finds a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, while lactobacillus is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Research suggests some strains of Lactobacillus inhibit Gardnerella vaginalis from adhering to vaginal epithelium. Studies have shown that loss of vaginal lactobacilli is a major component in developing bacterial vaginosis, making probiotic supplementation crucial. When it comes to UTIs, the strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri appear to be the most effective at reducing risk.
If incorporating probiotics into your diet can actually cut down on digestive and vaginal issues, then I have to ask why you aren't already do this?! Eat Jamie Lee's fave cultured yogurt and try taking supplements specific to vaginal health for a bit.
If it's working for you, you'll start to feel results within just a few weeks! And if nothing changes (tummy still giving you issues / still getting BV or UTIs on a regular basis), then a trip to your trusted gyno or primary health care physician to come up with a good plan is always your best bet.