Treatment of bacterial vaginosis using probiotics is intriguing. Many women want to know what BV is and if they might have it, how to diagnosis BV or how to cure BV. As discussed on the page about conventional treatment for bacterial vaginosis, conventional treatment involves antibiotics and the failure rate is high, with more than half of treated women experiencing another BV infection within 3 months.
Medically-speaking, only doctors and drugs are able to treat and cure diseases. However, giving probiotics in addition to, or in the place of, antibiotic therapy has shown promising results. The logic behind giving probiotic Lactobacillus species to women with a history of BV is to displace the pathogens and reestablish a dominant Lactobacillus probiotics population, which in turn creates an environment in which the native Lactobacillus are able to return to the dominant status. The Lactobacillus bacteria can then work with the body’s immune systems to eradicate the infection.
Numerous Lactobacillus species have the potential to be involved with treatment of bacterial vaginosis. L. iners, gasseri, crispatus, plantarum, rhamnosus, jensenii, vaginas, reuteri, acidophilus andsalivarius are some of them.
There is anecdotal evidence that some women have experienced relief from BV using tampons soaked in plain yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus or from gently injecting plain yogurt containing acidophilus strains species into their vaginas with turkey basters or other gentle methods.
In a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study in 95 women, a combination probiotic vaginal capsule called was used. These women had undergone conventional treatments for bacterial vaginosis or vulvovaginal candidiasis. The product contained L. gasseri LN40, L. fermentum LN99, L. rhamnosus LN113 and P. acidilactici LN23 and was inserted in the vagina for 5 days.
It showed that 93% of women receiving the probiotic were cured in 2-3 days and 78% of them were still cured after one menstruation period, although the results weren't statistically significant. The conclusions were that the 5 days of treatment with the probiotics after conventional treatment was done resulted in colonization of the vagina by the probiotic species, somewhat fewer recurrent infections, and less vaginal discharge odor.
The Lactobacillus bacteria mentioned in this last study are available in "ellen probiotic tampons" sold mostly in the EU.
In another study, 2 probiotics, Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011 and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis B94 were used in a product called "Fermalac Vaginal". The study was not well-documented, but the results showed that treatment of bacterial vaginosis with conventional antibiotics and with Fermalac for 10 days, followed by use of Fermalac for prevention significantly prevented or delayed the recurrence of BV. Fermalac is available mostly in the EU.
In yet another study, 3 lactobacilli, L. plantarum, L. salivarius and L. brevis in a vaginal tablet for 7 days showed a 61% success rate in BV after 2 weeks. This product is not on the market (Nov. 2013) to my knowledge.
Additionally , two Lactobacillus
strains have proven clinical performance in successful treatment of bacterial vaginosis in the majority of cases through oral swallowing of capsules: L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri
RC-14. These strains were found to survive passage through the low pH
of the stomach, survive through the intestines, and somehow rise up into
the vagina to colonize it. No side effects were reported in studies.
The capsules were sometimes inserted directly into the vagina, also.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 colonized well in some patients, but L. reuteri RC-14 colonized better in other patients. This is yet another example of why there is not one “best” probiotic microbe. It takes a village of microbes to be healthy.
You can read more about the research on L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 on their individual pages. If you want to try a product which combines the 2 probiotic bacteria to help with your bacterial vaginosis, my first advice is to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and to know the severity of your infection. Then, discuss how to cure BV using either:
Have this discussion with your doctor after reading more about the probiotic microbes and the products containing them on their individual pages.
NOTE: If you don't make the appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle, chances are that you are going to relapse with BV. Taking probiotic supplements to help with a condition like BV is fine, but just like a drug, shortly after you stop taking it the advantages cease. Knowing how to cure BV means knowing that long-term positive changes in your life have more impact than short-term ones do, so consider making probiotic and live-culture foods a part of your healthy lifestyle.
As Albert Einstein said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
As of the time this page was written, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 are patented probiotic strains and are found in two main products:
Another option for BV is a product called "FloraFemme". FloraFemme is a probiotic suppository capsule that is inserted directly into the vagina. You can read about it here.
(References available upon request.)
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