Probiotics are so hot right now. From fitness influencers on Instagram to text convos with your best friend, everyone is talking about 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? According to 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, it’s true. Here’s her advice on the best probiotic for vaginal health and who should take it.
So, which probiotic wins?
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.
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.”
How often should you take a vaginal probiotic?
If this is something you’re taking to keep a pesky problem at bay, you can and should take Pro-B every day. But even if you’re not someone who suffers from continuous infections or other unpleasantries, a vaginal probiotic is something you can take toward the end of your period to help restore and maintain your pH balance—something that easily gets thrown out of whack during your menstrual cycle.
If you’re nodding along while reading this and thinking, That is totally me, starting a probiotic regimen could not be easier. Get your doctor’s OK first, but know that Pro-B is available without a prescription at the drugstore or via Amazon. It’s so simple—now you know.