We Asked 3 Doctors About the Best Probiotic for Vaginal Health (& Why You Need It in the First Place)

we went straight to the pros

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best probiotic for vaginal health womans hand holidng a bottle of supplements
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From fitness influencers on Instagram to text convos with your best friend, everyone is talking about probiotics—the microorganisms that promise to transform your gut. But there’s another benefit to probiotics you really need to know about: They can improve your vaginal health.

Think about it: You can probably remember a stretch of days (or maybe this is your situation all. the. time.) when you felt itchy and noticed an embarrassingly strong odor emanating from down there. There’s also a really good chance you’ve had, or often have, a case of bacterial vaginosis—the most common vaginal condition in women of childbearing age—or a yeast infection, since three out of four of us will at some point. Typically, you’d give your OB-GYN a call and she’d prescribe something. But what if these symptoms could be prevented with an over-the-counter supplement? We asked three doctors for their take.

Meet the Experts

  • Lauren Streicher, M.D., professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause
  •  Dr. Tiffany Pham, MD, is an OB-GYN and a Medical Advisor at Flo Health. She received her medical degree from University of North Texas Health Sciences Center and completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology from the Houston Methodist Obstetrics and Gynecology program.
  • Navya Mysore, MD, is the National Program Medical Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health at One Medical. She completed her family medicine residency and maternal child health fellowship at McGill University and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Signs You Need a Probiotic

Dr. Pham tells us, "The evidence to strongly support the role of probiotics for vaginal health remains controversial, thus, there is no condition or signs/symptoms where the use of probiotics is definitively recommended by medical guidelines globally. That being said, there are numerous studies and newly emerging evidence where probiotics may play a role in vaginal health." Some conditions in which the use of probiotics may be useful include:

  • If you are prone to developing vaginal or yeast infections after you take antibiotics.
  • If you have recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI), yeast infections or vaginal infections caused by bacterial vaginosis (BV).
  • If you are being treated for a vaginal infection like bacterial vaginosis (BV).

What Are the Vaginal Health Benefits (If Any) of Probiotics?

Per Dr. Pham, "Our vaginal health is dependent on an ecosystem of organisms that work together to maintain a balanced vaginal environment to prevent a variety of infections that can affect the vagina." She adds that probiotics have been studied for their role in helping to maintain this balance vaginal environment, but the results are not definitive enough to routinely recommend their use. Still, she says, "There have been some promising results in the research literature."

It's a statement echoed by Dr. Mysore: "There is actually very little evidence that probiotics can help vaginal health. While anecdotally many patients will say they saw a benefit when starting their probiotic. The idea behind taking probiotics is that the healthy bacteria contained in the probiotic helps to replenish the good bacteria that is in the vagina and helps maintain a healthy vaginal pH."

Who Should Take a Probiotic for Vaginal Health?

Just as you wouldn’t take heart medication for a condition you don’t have, it doesn’t make sense for you to take a probiotic specific to vaginal health if all is well on the southern border. That said, if you have recurring issues, it doesn’t hurt to take them as needed.

“My feeling is, if there are recurring issues, like persistent infections, there’s no downside to taking a probiotic like Pro-B,” Dr. Streicher says. “There’s no harm in it, so if it’s helping you, keep taking it, because it makes sense that it will only help to keep things in balance. It’s also safer and far more effective than douching or vaginal washes.”

Dr. Mysore adds, "Everyone’s body is different and responds differently to supplements—so no guarantee that it will help your symptoms, but the risk is low to try."

How Often Should You Take a Vaginal Probiotic?

Again, this totally depends on your individual body and situation. Dr. Mysore tells us, "You can ask your health care provider to suggest a probiotic to use. I would take it orally and you can try it for two to three months every day to see if there is an improvement."

So, Which Probiotic Should You Take?

Dr. Streicher’s pick is RepHresh Pro-B Feminine Probiotic Supplement—the only brand she recommends to her patients because of its formulation and history of effectiveness. It has the specific strains of lactobacillus (a type of good bacteria that lives in your vagina) that are actually already in your body. Not having enough lactobacillus throws off your pH and leads to all those truly unpleasant side effects.

“In the vagina, a healthy amount of lactobacillus means no odor, discharge, discomfort or infection,” Dr. Streicher says. Wow. This is a game changer.

Below, more doctor-recommended probiotics to try if you're having any of the issues listed above.

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From 2019-2020 Ariel Scotti held the role of Editor at PureWow covering trends, wellness and more.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...