How Probiotics Can Help Bacterial Vaginosis and a Yeast Infection
Both bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections are common conditions that many women deal with at one time or another. These illnesses each stem from having an overproduction of unhealthy bacteria in the vagina. Such bacteria are only able to grow when there is an imbalance in vaginal microflora, which is a group of bacteria that keep the vagina healthy.
When left untreated, BV and yeast infections can lead to serious complications like the development of transmitted infections (STIs) or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). If the patient is pregnant, these conditions could also result in a preterm birth or low birth weight.
How Many Probiotics Do I Need?
It is advised to take probiotics that contain at least 1 billion colony forming units (CFUs). These assist in establishing and further growing the amount of healthy bacterias in your body. Any decent probiotic will have between 1-10 billion CFUs, but the particular dose will depend on the unique probiotic and how it was manufactured.
Natural probiotics are also an excellent source if you would prefer to forego supplements. However, this option will make it significantly more difficult to get enough CFUs, as supplements are specially designed to administer a large, concentrated dose of the best probiotics for your body.
How Do These Probiotics Help?
Probiotics are packed full of healthy bacteria that not only help your GI tract, but also your vagina. Studies have shown that when taken, probiotics will improve symptoms for those who already have a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
Probiotics are also able to prevent a potential infection. These bacteria work to balance out the pH level of the vagina, which makes for a healthy and hospitable environment.
Proper pH Levels
You can learn about your body’s current pH level by using specially designed pH paper to tell whether or not your vaginal secretions are normal. Typically, you should see a pH level of 4.5 or lower from the vagina. These lower numbers mean that the vagina is acidic, which protects your body by deterring harmful bacteria from forming in the vagina.
Higher pH levels are likely caused by BV, while yeast infections rely more on other symptoms to make a proper diagnosis.
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
Although your vaginal pH level will not directly conclude if you have a yeast infection, other symptoms can. These symptoms include:
- Itching, burning or swelling near the affected area
- Thick vaginal discharge that is grey, green, yellow, or white in color
- A burning sensation during urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Appearance of a vulvar rash
- Fissures in the wall of the vagina (only in severe cases)
Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
Some symptoms of BV may seem similar to those of a yeast infection, such as a burning sensation when you urinate or strangely colored discharge that is thicker than normal. One distinguishing factor of bacterial vaginosis is that it often is accompanied by a fishy odor. This smell may become even more potent after sexual intercourse.
Be Careful with Self-Care
Unless you have experienced a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis before, it is highly recommended to seek treatment from a certified gynecologist. Improper self-diagnosis will only worsen your condition and cause unnecessary pain.
Using probiotics to alleviate these conditions is also not recommended for those who are not able to clearly recognize symptoms of a recurring vaginal condition that they have had in the past. Of course, anyone can use probiotics as a means of prevention for a variety of health issues.
Bottom line: if you have not encountered either of these conditions before, or have not previously tried to use probiotics as a treatment option, we urge you to speak with one of our gynecologists. To schedule an appointment, please call Atlanta Women’s Obstetrics & Gynecology at (404) 352-3616 today or use our online form.