A common misconception is that all bacteria is bad. In fact, some kinds of bacteria are vital to maintaining a healthy body. This is true of the stomach, skin and female reproductive system. Paying attention to your vaginal bacteria can help with natural UTI prevention and other medical benefits. So which bacteria are good and how can you help them flourish?
What Is a Microbiome?
A microbiome is the environment in which microorganisms live. In the vagina, this includes several kinds of bacteria, as well as pH levels that can affect bacterial growth.
The “good” bacteria are called lactobacilli. They keep bad bacteria from growing and causing symptoms such as these:
- Fishy smell
- Yeast infection
- Urinary tract infection
It’s common for your vaginal pH to fluctuate as a result of hormones, sex, menstruation or antibiotics. However, there are things you can do to fight bad bacteria in these instances.
How Can You Encourage Good Bacteria Growth?
If you experience symptoms after penetrative sex, a good solution is to use physical barriers such as dental dams or condoms. You may be tempted to douche or use external body cleansers on your vagina, but this can make the situation worse by further altering your pH instead of balancing it.
Another approach is to take probiotics. These contain types of “good” bacteria to combat the bad.
What Do Probiotics Do?
You can take probiotics either as supplements or by eating foods in which they naturally occur. The best probiotics for vaginal health typically contain the lactobacillus acidophilus strain, although studies have shown other lactobacillus bacteria can also be beneficial. Research indicates that these types of bacteria can displace harmful microorganisms, and at times even attach to and kill them.
Keeping your vagina healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. You can avoid issues like yeast infections with a few preventative measures such as good hygiene practices and probiotic supplements.
To read more on topics like this, check out the health category.