If left untreated, vaginal infections can have potentially serious medical consequences such as pre-term delivery and increased risk of requiring certain sexually transmitted diseases. A recent two-part study suggests that taking the probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri may help combat recurrent vaginal infections, especially when used with prescribed medication.
Participants in the study included 40 Scandinavian women who were diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis or vulvovaginal candidiasis. For the first trial, the women with bacterial vaginosis were given antibiotics followed by the probiotic capsules for five consecutive days.
For the second trial, the participants were divided into three groups: women with bacterial vaginosis receiving antibiotics and four months of the probiotics; women with recurring vulvovaginal candidiasis receiving extended treatment with the anti-fungal medication fluconazole as well as the probiotics; and women with vulvovaginal candidiasis who received only the anti-fungal medication.
Results for both studies were collected using self-swab samples and culture analysis in the laboratory. The researchers found that the probiotics strains or the women’s own endogenous strains were associated with a clear up of bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, all of the women with vulvovaginal candidiasis in both the groups treated with fluconazole alone or with the probiotics were cured in the six-month follow up.
When the researchers examined relapse rates at 12 months, they found that the probiotics group had a slightly higher cure rate than the fluconazole alone group, with 89% and 70% cured respectively. However, the researchers noted that the results were not statistically significant. They also found that a change in sexual partner was strongly associated with a relapse of bacterial vaginosis.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. It was published on July 3, 2015, in BMC Infectious Diseases.
While probiotics are most commonly linked to improving digestion and gut health, they have also been shown to have other health benefits, including a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of chronic disease.
Probiotics can be found naturally in many foods, such as yogurt, milk and sauerkraut. You may also consider taking a high quality supplement but make sure it is packaged to block light, air and moisture, which can easily kill probiotics. If you’re interested in the results seen here, be sure that the supplement contains the probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri and that it can be administered vaginally.