Whether it's dealing with recurrent yeast infections or menstrual cramps, many women are struggling with some form of discomfort, and often in silence. Fortunately, there's a simple and natural way to support reproductive and reduce the frequency of these conditions – probiotics! Here’s how these tiny organisms can support women’s health.
Our gut microbiome is made up of 100 trillion good and bad bacteria, and one of the simplest ways to tip the balance in our favour is by consuming lots of beneficial bacteria from – you guessed it – probiotics. You might know the digestive benefits that come with an improved gut microbiome, but there are also a number of powerful benefits for women – from reproductive health to a healthier pH level. Here are a few of the things a good dose of probiotics can do for you.
Graphic by Grace Martin
Reduces vaginal yeast infections
Probiotics are also known to help maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and other parts of the body – and that includes the vaginal tract. Yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, occur when there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida in the vagina. Studies suggest that taking probiotics may help reduce the risk of yeast infections in women by restoring the balance of microorganisms in the vaginal tract., along with increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the vagina, such as lactobacilli, which can produce lactic acid to help maintain an acidic environment that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. Then there’s also the immune-boosting properties of probiotics, which can help prevent yeast infections by promoting a healthy balance of microorganisms in the body. Some studies have found that taking probiotics along with standard antifungal medications can improve the effectiveness of the treatment and reduce the likelihood of recurrence.
Reduces the severity of period cramps
Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, are caused by the release of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that cause the uterus to contract. Here’s where probiotics come in – these good bacteria may help reduce menstrual cramps by reducing inflammation and balancing the microbiome in the gut and reproductive tract. Some studies have found that certain strains of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, may help reduce inflammation in the body, which can help alleviate menstrual pain. Probiotics may also help improve gut health, which can have a positive impact on reproductive health. A healthy gut microbiome can help improve nutrient absorption, reduce inflammation, and support a healthy immune system, all of which can contribute to overall reproductive health.
Eases acne outbreaks
If you’re particularly prone to acne outbreaks, it’s worth taking a look at your gut health. When things are off-balance, it can have a knock-on effect on your skin health – affecting the microbiome of our skin and allowing harmful bacteria to thrive. Probiotics can help tip the balance in favour of beneficial bacteria, which reduces the growth of acne-causing bacteria and promote a healthy microbiome on the skin. As we mentioned above, probiotics may also help reduce inflammation in the body, including on the skin, which then reduces the amount of breakouts.
So, where can you get these probiotics? Fermented foods are a great option – the fermentation process produces good bacteria – but it’s important to opt for refrigerated items as the shelf-stable varieties have likely been heated and their healthful properties destroyed. Try any of the following:
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