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probiotics for the vagina, does it actually work?

5 min read
Cycle Care

Approved by

Ellen de Groot - Orthomolecular/PNI therapist
Did you know that the bacteria down there affect your chances of getting not only a yeast infection, but also your chances of developing certain types of cancers? Time to learn more about the vaginal microbiome.

Nowadays, we’re more than busy with keeping tabs on our bacterial flora in our guts. These bacteria affect your overall health, so it’s important to keep an eye out. But did you know that there are bacteria living in your vagina as well? These bacteria are also called your vaginal microbiome (your what??), and they are important too!

For years now, research has been conducted on the effects of bacteria in your guts and how to restore the natural balance of your intestines. But crazy enough, little to no research is done on vaginal bacteria. Weird, because these bacteria most definitely affect several female issues. 

Think about it, how well can you fight infections (both those wretched fungal infections and bacterial vaginosis) if you know what’s up down there? Not only is knowledge about the vaginal microbiome important to fight infections, they also affect your chances of getting pregnant, the chances of having a miscarriage, or the chances of developing certain types of cancers. It’s a thing to take seriously… So! Time to get to know these tiny organisms!

It’s important to know that no two vaginas are exactly the same, this includes the microbiome. It’s different for everyone and it even changes depending on your age and lifestyle. There is most definitely no ‘one-size-fits-all’ and a lot of research still has to be done to completely understand how much a disruption in the balance of the microbiome affects our health. 

Long live bacteria Lactobacillus

Your vaginal microbiome consists of various types of bacteria, but Lactobacilli have a positive effect on the vaginal flora. By now, we know that your vagina doesn’t need extensive washing and that your vagina is actually self-cleaning. Well, you can thank your personal goodie bag consisting of Lactobacilli for that!

Lactobacilli produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide that lower the pH of the vagina to about 3.8-4.5, making it very acidic and thus preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. These Lactobacilli are good bacteria that can restore the natural acidity balance and those who are responsible for fighting fungal infections and bacterial vaginosis, two common vaginal infections. 

Having higher amounts of Lactobacilli in your vaginal microbiome has been linked to a lower risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and pelvic inflammation. In addition, a study published in the United Kingdom shows that women who had fewer Lactobacilli had a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. 

Good bacteria in your vagina can help prevent preterm delivery and there is incipient evidence from a 2015 study that suggests that lower amounts of Lactobacillus (and higher amounts of Gardnerella and Urea plasma) during pregnancy, affects the risk of pregnancy complications such as preterm birth and miscarriage. Before you start getting extremely worried, realize that all these studies are still in their beginning stage and these are the early results. In addition, there are way more factors that can influence preterm birth and miscarriages. Lifestyle factors are also definitely at play here. 

A Happy Vajay

It’s important to keep your vagina, vajay, fanny, healthy and to make sure that the infection fighting Lactobacilli are living their best lives between your legs. But how do you go about doing that? 

The answer is quite simple, really. Everything you put in your vagina can disrupt the vaginal microbiome, and there are quite a lot of disruptors. We’ll name a few: 

Personal hygiene products

Vaginal washes, deodorants, and vaginal showers are better left aside. All they’ll do is make your vagina more alkaline and this is perfect for bad bacteria. With all that flushing down there you don’t only flush away all the bad bacteria, but also the good ones! Research has shown that women who use vaginal showers are more prone to getting bacterial vaginosis. So, trust us, leave the cleaning to your vagina, it knows what it’s doing. 

A recent trend, vaginal steaming, is also better left alone in our opinion. Your vagina likes body temperature (37ºC) the best and anything warmer creates the perfect environment to cultivate bad bacteria and yeasts. 


A lot of us will recognize this. You’ve just finished your antibiotics course, for let’s say an UTI, and you get a fungal infection as a present afterwards. Not something you’re waiting on, of course. Unfortunately, there’s a broad spectrum of antibiotics which don’t only eliminate the bad bacteria, but also eliminate the Lactobacilli, giving new bad bacteria a better chance to survive. Excessive use of antibiotics makes persistent infections more difficult to treat and can even lead to antibiotic resistance. Take with precaution. 


Yes, it’s true. Sperm has an alkaline pH which can make your vaginal environment less acidic. Harmful bacteria love this and are able to grow harder and faster. And this happens at the expense of all the good bacteria in your vagina. Using a condom is never a bad option in our opinion, but if you suffer from fungal infections or bacterial vaginosis quite often after intercourse, then using a condom brings some extra comfort!

Want to know more about bacterial vaginosis? You can read more here.

Suffering from fungal infections? This article has some tips and tricks for you!


Tampons can be a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Therefore, it’s very important to change your tampons frequently and to wash your hands before and after. Never wear a tampon for longer than 8 hours, shorter is preferred. Furthermore, it’s wise to never use tampons that use ingredients that promote the growth of bacteria or carry bacteria. Tampons made of 100% organic cotton such as from Gentleday or Yoni but especially the menstrual cup are favorites at Cycle. 

Your menstrual blood

Menstrual blood has a light alkaline pH (around 7.4), so prolonged or irregular bleeding can make your vaginal environment less acidic, giving bad bacteria the opportunity to reign free. If you suffer from prolonged bleeding, don’t just ‘deal with it’, but visit your GP. Most of the time, there’s a curable cause for the situation. 

Are you not sure about the color of your menstrual blood and you’d like to know more? Read this article. 


Some forms of birth control, such as the combined pill or the copper IUD, carry risk of infections like fungal infections or bacterial vaginosis. Switching between different types of contraceptives can also have an impact on your vaginal microbiome. How this affects your microbiome and why this happens is still unsure. More future research is needed. 

Should we all take probiotics for our intimate parts? 

Taking probiotics to improve the health of your gut flora is something most of us consider quite normal and effective, but there are few products on the market that take good care of the female microbiome. Fortunately, there’s a growing interest for this important subject. A group of researchers based in Antwerp started a large-scale research, named Isala, to map-out the female microbiome with hopes to improve treatment methods. We can’t wait!

If you’re worried or often suffer from, for example, bacterial vaginosis without an identifiable cause, you might want to try supporting your good bacteria with probiotics. You can insert the vaginal probiotic tablets containing the Lactobacilli in addition to Berberine, which you take orally. Berberine significantly improves the amount of vaginal discharge, itching and odor compared to standard treatment.

Frequently suffering from fungal infections? Then oregano should be included in the treatment! The essential oil containing oregano affects the cell wall and cell membranes of the Candida albicans, eradicating the fungi. Afterwards, you could insert the vaginal probiotic tablets to replenish the Lactobacilli. 

Want to know how you can recognize a high-quality supplement? Then you can read this article that gives you all the tips and tricks. 


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