This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
Probiotic pills and suppositories are supposed to balance the vaginal microbiome. For many years, they have been raved about their capability to regulate digestive health and support a healthy immune system. You can easily find probiotics on drugstore shelves or online for purchase. But how helpful are probiotics for vaginal health?
How Probiotics Work
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide many health benefits when ingested or inserted into the body. You have trillions of microbes on and in your body. They are a combination of bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and fungi (including yeasts). Microbes can be found in your gut, vagina, mouth, urinary tract, skin, etc. Probiotics can have several effects on the body. They work to help your body's microorganisms return to a healthy condition or maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome and provide relief from bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. Probiotics help keep your body neutral by fighting off increased harmful bacteria, with good ones to restore balance when you are sick. They also help with keeping the gut healthy and controlling inflammation. A healthy gut can help with weight loss, healthier skin, improved digestion, enhanced immune system, and reduced disease risks. Remember that different probiotics address different health conditions, so be careful when choosing suitable probiotics, whether you take probiotics or eat a well-balanced diet rich in fiber.
Why Probiotics Can Be Beneficial Specifically For Vaginal Health
Probiotics provide the vagina with good bacteria and the microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies. While some bacteria can be harmful, others offer many benefits to the body, such as the digestion of food, destroying disease-causing cells, and vitamin production. The probiotics in vaginal products aim to produce these good microorganisms to restore or maintain balance. Experts explain that probiotics for vaginal health must contain Lactobacillus and be inserted vaginally to be effective. Though there is limited evidence of probiotics' effect on vaginal health, some studies suggest that probiotics can help prevent bacterial vaginosis and treat current infections.
Different Ways That Probiotics Can Be Ingested (suppository vs. swallowed)
Based on the probiotics you use, the directions will vary. Some may be taken orally, and others are suppositories that can be inserted vaginally. The suppositories should never be swallowed because they contain products that are not meant to be ingested by mouth. Oral probiotics and some vaginal suppositories only contain good bacteria for the gut and may not have those needed to support the vaginal microbiome. Because of the travel from the mouth through the gut and out of the anus, then having to travel back to the vagina, oral suppositories are less likely to help with vaginal health.
With capsules for vaginal insertion, you may do it while you lie down, sit, or stand. Probiotic products such as the Kushae Vaginal Boric Acid Suppositories + Probiotics & Aloe can be used after sexual intercourse, menstruation, or when your pH feels unbalanced. Our co-founder and OB/GYN Dr. Barbara McLaren recommend the following doses and step-by-step instructions for her patients following the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) guidelines:
For Bacterial Vaginosis
Acute (current infection): Insert 1 capsule into vagina once a day for 21 days.
For Prevention (Prophylaxis): Insert 1 suppository capsule into vagina twice a week for 6 months.
Since your body is cleansing itself, we strongly recommend wearing a liner for potential vaginal discharge.
Acute (current infection): Insert 1 suppository capsule into vagina once daily for 2-3 weeks.
For Prevention (Prophylaxis): (for women prone to yeast infections who want to prevent future infections): Insert 1 suppository capsule into vagina twice a week for 6 months.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you are interested in adding probiotics to your healthcare regime. They may have suggestions on how to start. Remember that there are different types of probiotics that act and have different results. They all have their own benefits. You can get probiotics by eating yogurts and pickles or drinking kombucha and other fermented beverages. Before starting any probiotics supplements, contact your healthcare provider for information about the types of probiotics and their dosage.