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Prostate and urinary health Q&As

Vaginal probiotics: which one should you choose to protect your intimate flora?

Are you looking for the best possible probiotic for maintaining healthy vaginal flora? Find out how to care for this particular microbiome which, though less well-known, is nonetheless crucial for good female intimate health
Which probiotic to take for healthy vaginal flora
Find out which microorganisms are good for your vaginal microbiome.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2022-06-23Comments (0)

What exactly is the vaginal microbiome?

The vaginal microbiome is the collective term for all the microorganisms that live in the vagina. In simple terms, it’s as important to intimate health as the gut microbiota is to intestinal health!

Its function is two-fold: to defend the vaginal mucosa from pathogens by protecting it with a biofilm, and to maintain its pH within an ideal range (between 3.5 and 4.5) (1).

A guarantee of good vaginal health, this important ecosystem is, however, sometimes subject to imbalances, referred to as dysbiosis. This is usually caused by hormonal or environmental factors such as certain medications, stress, fatigue or inappropriate intimate hygiene (2).

In allowing particular bacterial strains to ‘get the upper hand’, vaginal dysbiosis paves the way for the development of gynaecological or urinary tract problems (3). When such problems become recurrent, they can cause significant genital discomfort and adversely affect a woman’s sex life.

The healthy microorganisms that populate the vaginal flora

200: that’s the approximate number of different species of bacteria so far identified in the vagina (4). But a closer look shows that a healthy vaginal microbiota displays far less diversity.

Here, it’s lactic bacteria (lactobacilli) which form the overwhelming bulk of its composition - almost 90%. This defensive battalion is what’s referred to as Döderlein flora.

While every profile is unique, most women will have between one and four dominant strains from among the following: Lactobacillus jensenii, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus crispatus and Lactobacillus iners (5).

Other beneficial lactic colonisers include L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. Plantarum, L. rhamnosus and L. salivarius, which are also found in other regions of the body (such as the mouth and digestive tract) (6).

It’s worth noting that vaginal flora composition depends heavily on oestrogen secretions (7). It can therefore vary significantly across the menstrual cycle, and during pregnancy and the menopause.

Which vaginal probiotic should you choose?

The purpose of a vaginal probiotic is to ‘re-seed’ the physiological flora with friendly microorganisms in order to restore a harmonious environment.

For optimal efficacy, you therefore need to focus on the above-mentioned lactobacilli. Other species of lactic bacteria such as bifidobacteria (used in yogurt fermentation) are also able to anchor themselves to the vaginal wall, and deserve a place in your microbiotic regimen (8).

While choosing the right bacteria is crucial, it’s equally important that they successfully implant themselves in the mucosa. To facilitate this tricky process, we recommend opting for a formulation that contains prebiotics, substances that nourish and support the growth of healthy bacteria (9).

Finally, there are two ways in which vaginal probiotics can be administered: the vaginal route (pessaries) or the traditional oral route (capsules, tablets …). The first is more direct, the second less restrictive. It’s all down to personal choice.

Combining 5 recognised strains of lactic bacteria (Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei), the oral microbiotic Vaginal Health provides, in a single formulation, the ‘good bacteria’ of the vaginal microbiome, at a high dose of 5 billion microorganisms per capsule (10). It also contains fructo-oligosaccharides, non-digestible plant sugars, to support the bacteria’s growth (11).

Good habits to adopt to help take care of your intimate flora

There are also a number of everyday steps you can take to help maintain ahealthy balance in your vaginal flora:

References

  1. Barrientos-Durán A, Fuentes-López A, de Salazar A, Plaza-Díaz J, García F. Reviewing the Composition of Vaginal Microbiota: Inclusion of Nutrition and Probiotic Factors in the Maintenance of Eubiosis. Nutrients. 2020;12(2):419. Published 2020 Feb 6. doi:10.3390/nu12020419
  2. Chen X, Lu Y, Chen T, Li R. The Female Vaginal Microbiome in Health and Bacterial Vaginosis. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021;11:631972. Published 2021 Apr 7. doi:10.3389/fcimb.2021.631972
  3. De Seta F, Lonnee-Hoffmann R, Campisciano G, et al. The Vaginal Microbiome: III. The Vaginal Microbiome in Various Urogenital Disorders. J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2022;26(1):85-92. doi:10.1097/LGT.0000000000000645
  4. Mendling W. Vaginal Microbiota. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;902:83-93. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-31248-4_6. PMID: 27161352.
  5. Chee WJY, Chew SY, Than LTL. Vaginal microbiota and the potential of Lactobacillus derivatives in maintaining vaginal health. Microb Cell Fact. 2020;19(1):203. Published 2020 Nov 7. doi:10.1186/s12934-020-01464-4
  6. Supernatants Inhibit Candida parapsilosis Pathogenic Potential upon Infection of Vaginal Epithelial Cells Monolayer and in a Transwell Coculture System In Vitro. Microbiol Spectr. 2022 May 2:e0269621. doi : 10.1128/spectrum.02696-21. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35499353.
  7. Kaur H, Merchant M, Haque MM, Mande SS. Crosstalk Between Female Gonadal Hormones and Vaginal Microbiota Across Various Phases of Women's Gynecological Lifecycle. Front Microbiol. 2020;11:551. Published 2020 Mar 31. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2020.00551
  8. Freitas AC, Hill JE. Quantification, isolation and characterization of Bifidobacterium from the vaginal microbiomes of reproductive aged women. 2017 Oct;47:145-156. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2017.05.012. Epub 2017 May 25. PMID: 28552417.
  9. Reid G. Probiotic and prebiotic applications for vaginal health. J AOAC Int. 2012 Jan-Feb;95(1):31-4. doi: 10.5740/jaoacint.sge_reid. PMID: 22468339.
  10. Bertuccini L, Russo R, Iosi F, Superti F. Effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus acidophilus on bacterial vaginal pathogens. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2017;30(2):163-167. doi:10.1177/0394632017697987
  11. Rousseau V, Lepargneur JP, Roques C, Remaud-Simeon M, Paul F. Prebiotic effects of oligosaccharides on selected vaginal lactobacilli and pathogenic microorganisms. 2005 Jun;11(3):145-53. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2004.12.002. Epub 2005 Feb 12. PMID: 16701545.
  12. Martino JL, Vermund SH. Vaginal douching : evidence for risks or benefits to women's health. Epidemiol Rev. 2002;24(2):109-124. doi:10.1093/epirev/mxf004
  13. Chen Y, Bruning E, Rubino J, Eder SE. Role of female intimate hygiene in vulvovaginal health: Global hygiene practices and product usage. Womens Health (Lond). 2017;13(3):58-67. doi:10.1177/1745505717731011
  14. Brotman RM, He X, Gajer P, et al. Association between cigarette smoking and the vaginal microbiota: a pilot study. BMC Infect Dis. 2014;14:471. Published 2014 Aug 28. doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-471
  15. Van Ende M, Wijnants S, Van Dijck P. Sugar Sensing and Signaling in Candida albicans and Candida glabrata. Front Microbiol. 2019;10:99. Published 2019 Jan 30. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.00099
  16. Ahrens P, Andersen LO, Lilje B, et al. Changes in the vaginal microbiota following antibiotic treatment for Mycoplasma genitalium, Chlamydia trachomatis and bacterial vaginosis. PLoS One. 2020;15(7):e0236036. Published 2020 Jul 28. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0236036
  17. Chen Y, Bruning E, Rubino J, Eder SE. Role of female intimate hygiene in vulvovaginal health: Global hygiene practices and product usage. Womens Health (Lond). 2017;13(3):58-67. doi:10.1177/1745505717731011
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