Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the conditions of the vaginal tract change and allow anaerobic bacteria to overgrow and crowd out the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria that normally reside there. Bacterial infections such as bacterial vaginosis may be treatable with probiotics, such as acidophilus. You should talk to a doctor about using probiotics for treating bacterial vaginosis before attempting to treat yourself.
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Acidophilus is a type of bacteria belonging to the group Lactobacillus, one of the friendly bacteria, or probiotics. Its full name is Lactobacillus acidophilus, or L. acidophilus. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is the most commonly used probiotic. Probiotics like L. acidophilus work in the body to fend off unfriendly bacteria that can cause disease.
The use of L. acidophilus to fight bacterial vaginosis is based off the observation that when a bacterial vaginosis infection takes hold, natural lactobacillus in the vaginal tract become depleted. Probiotic L. acidophilus also lets off hydrogen peroxide, which is believed to alter the pH of the vaginal tract, making it less hospitable to the invading bacteria. A few small clinical studies that have found this probiotic helpful for treating this condition, according to MayoClinic.com. Additional larger clinical studies are needed to definitively determine the effectiveness of L. acidophilus against bacterial vaginosis.
L. acidophilus can be purchased as live active cultures or dried cultures. Freeze-dried L. acidophilus comes in granules, powder, tablet or capsule form. A liquid version containing live cultures is also available. Probiotics, including L. acidophilus, are often added to yogurt, milk, miso or tempeh.
Capsules or tablets containing L. acidophilus can be inserted as a vaginal suppository. Suppositories should contain between 10 million and 1 billion live colony forming units per tablet and you can use 1 or 2 tablets daily. Alternately, L. acidophilus may be taken orally at doses of 1 to 2 billion live organisms each day. Another option is to consume an 8 oz. tub of yogurt with live active L. acidophilus cultures daily. Over 1 to 2 billion bacteria in a dose may cause mild side effects such as gas, nausea and diarrhea. Doses smaller than 1 billion bacteria may not be sufficient to colonize the vaginal tract.
An alternative treatment for bacterial vaginosis is taking a medication called metronidazole, which kills the bacteria responsible for the disease. Taking a probiotic supplement or eating yogurt with L. acidophilus while also being treated with metronidazole may increase the effectiveness of the treatment. However, you should discuss the use of probiotics with your doctor before using them in conjunction with other treatment.