Antibiotics. They are the most common and quick fix to infections within our bodies.
They kill off all bad bacteria in order to eliminate the infection.
The bad part?
They also kill off the good bacteria, which creates an environment where bad bacteria can easily flourish once again. This causes recurrent infections, especially women who suffer from Bacterial Vaginosis, Urinary Tract Infections (or UTIs), and most commonly, yeast infections.
This has been a common problem for me throughout my entire life, but I recently found a way to prevent my body from contracting UTI’s and yeast infections. If you can relate, read the story below to get a glimpse of my past experiences that finally drove me to find a better solution for these frequent annoying problems.
Earlier this year, I went to visit the doctor. Once again, I had an increased urgency to urinate, a painful burning sting while emptying my bladder, and MOST uncomfortable of all: a constant, unbearable itch down south. The doctor proceeded to take my urine sample to the lab, and a few days later the results were in...
Unsurprisingly, I ONCE again had bacterial vaginosis, as well as a urinary tract infection, AND high yeast levels. The doctor told me to change my diet, and AGAIN prescribes me the SAME antibiotics that I had the month before!
The infections that I am usually diagnosed with are almost always accompanied by:
Are these symptoms familiar to you?
Don’t be embarrassed, at least 50% of females will experience one of these infections within their lifetime. If you have experienced this medical scenario before, keep reading, because I’ve written this article with you in mind.
These awful infections and annoyances are often related to your vaginal microflora. The vagina is similar to the digestive system in many ways; there are thousands of bacteria and microbes living in each—and the wrong balance of these bacteria can cause problems like these.
Yes, I am openly talking about the vagina! It may cause a few raised eyebrows, but it’s something that NEEDS to be talked about! All women should know about the battle between ‘GOOD’ and ‘BAD’ bacteria going on right now in our vaginas!
You probably have a lot of questions, as I too was baffled when I learned about the microscopic battle going on in our beloved female genitalia. I hadn’t realized before how delicate the balance of the bacteria within the vagina truly are, and how our bodies are extremely susceptible to infections, just because the bacterial balance is a little off.
These imbalances can be caused by many different things.
This includes: tissue damage caused by birth, smoking, stress, certain medications, tight clothing or synthetic underwear, inappropriate hygiene, low estrogen levels, irritants present in lotions, body washes and other cosmetic products (even female washes designed for the vagina odor), sexual activity, especially if the female is not aroused during intercourse which can cause dry friction, and even antibiotic therapy (sometimes used to ward off these infections!).
Whatever the cause may be, disturbances like these can cause overgrowth of pathogenic organisms such as Gardnerella vaginalis and Candida albicans. These pathogenic organisms are able to grow when the percentage of “good” bacterias are reduced and harmful microbes, or yeast cells are lead to overgrowth.
The “good” bacterias within the vagina, are strains of Lactobacilli. Lactobacillus strains are the protectresses of the vagina. They inhibit the growth of potentially harmful bacteria/yeast by producing lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide.
The production of lactic acid is essential for the vaginal flora because it aids in maintaining the acidic environment of the vagina, while hydrogen peroxide helps eliminate the bad bacterias, meanwhile also preventing their ability to attach to the vaginal walls.
Often times, when us women are treated for a yeast infection, UTI, or BV, the symptoms will easily return and we are back at the doctor for another round of antibiotics. Antibiotics work by either killing off bad bacteria or stopping the growth of them, but stopping regrowth only lasts so long.
This is why i’m glad I discovered Lactobacilli, (my new best friend) a friendly live bacteria (that is already present in the vagina), that produces natural disinfectants. These natural disinfectants help to maintain a healthy PH level and balance of beneficial microorganisms within the vaginal walls. That’s where select probiotics that contain Lactobacillus strains have proven to be extremely helpful in establishing and rejuvenating the perfectly balanced bacterial atmosphere for a woman’s delicate flower.
Recurrent infections are caused when the powerful drugs prescribed to eliminate these infections (antibiotics), do not JUST kill the harmful microbes, they also kill Lactobacillus strains. Without Lactobacillus strains present, bad bacteria and yeast are able to quickly flourish! Hence why it’s not uncommon for us women to experience bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections shortly after or even while on antibiotic therapy.
Recently, due to the positive results from multiple studies, many physicians have been suggesting that their female patients with vaginal infections and recurring symptoms learn to incorporate a probiotic into their diet.
Not only is this because they will initially prescribe you an antibiotic to kill off the bad bacteria, it’s also because probiotics containing Lactobacillus strains help the vaginal flora to recuperate after being damaged due to antibiotic therapy.*
In recent clinical trials, probiotics taken orally that contain Lactobacillus strains specifically, have shown to be extremely effective at establishing and maintaining healthy vaginal microflora. They’ve also shown to ward off the growth of pathogenic bacteria and also aid the protection from unwanted fungi growth on the vagina walls, that frequently causes yeast infections.
This recent randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial illustrates this point.
This study found that “a total of 106 subjects returned for 30-day follow-up, of which 88% were cured in the antibiotic/probiotic group compared to 40% in the antibiotic/placebo group. Of the remaining subjects, 30% subjects in the placebo group and none in the probiotic group had BV, while 30% in the placebo and 12% in the probiotic group fell into the intermediate category based upon Nugent score, sialidase result and clinical findings. High counts of Lactobacillus were recovered from the vagina of 96% probiotic-treated subjects compared to 53% controls at day 30. In summary, this study showed efficacious use of lactobacilli and antibiotic in the eradication of BV.”
Another convincing study was conducted to assess the order of degree and persistence of colonization of vaginal epithelium by orally administered mixtures of Lactobacilli Strains. (European Journal of Obstetrics and & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, and conducted by: Magdalena Strus, Agnieszka Chmielarczyk, Piotr Kochan, Paweł Adams,Zbigniew Chełmicki. Artur Chełmicki Andrzej Pałucha, and Piotr B. Heczko.) (2)
This study lasted 70 days, and consisted of 25 clinically healthy women with intermediate vaginal flora as subjects. During the study, a mixture of Lactobacillus strains were given to the women as 100 million CFUs once a day for 60 days.
The results of this study confirmed that the ingested Lactobacillus strains that were administered were able to reach and colonize both sites between the 20th and 70th days of the studies. (Max colonization was recorded between the 31st and 60th day of the study.)
This study ultimately showed that ingestion of the Lactobacillus mix was related to normalization of vaginal parameters, demonstrated by a decrease in vaginal PH and Nugent score together also with an increase of total numbers of lactobacilli in the vagina.
These studies show how beneficial taking a probiotic containing Lactobacillus can be for female’s vaginal health.* Probiotics containing Lactobacillus strains can help to improve the microflora environment, by substantially increasing the numbers of Lactic Acid and Hydrogen Peroxide, that Lactobacillus creates.* This helps to eliminate harmful microbes that can cause Vaginal Infections and also colonize the vagina with good bacteria to aid the prevention of recurrent infections.
Taking a probiotic that contains Lactobacillus strains can help women to have a healthy and well balanced vaginal microflora environment, which in the future may prevent women from having to frequently visit the doctor for vaginal infections and may decrease the amount of antibiotics administered frequently. This can save us women time, money, and also prevent us from experiencing the uncomfortable side-effects that coincide with Vaginal Infections, (especially that embarrassing fishy-odor!)