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Probiotic Bacteria helpful in reducing risk of Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

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The composition of bacteria and fungi in the urinary and genital systems are important for maintaining good health. Various species of Candida such as C. albicans, glabrata, tropicalis, parapsilosis and krusei frequently inhabit both the intestines and the urogenital organs of both women and men.

About 75% of all women will experience at least one episode of vulvovaginal Candida overgrowth/ infection in their lifetime. Such vulvovaginal Candidiasis causes itching, burning and discomfort that often has a major negative effect on the social, psychological, and sexual life of the woman. Such problems with vulvovaginal candidiasis are especially common in women who are diabetic, or those taking steroids, birth control pills or numerous courses of antibiotics.

Several studies have reported that oral probiotic or “good bacteria” such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can reduce risk of Candida overgrowth in the intestines. Such probiotic bacteria may also reduce risk of vulvovaginal Candidiasis. A study by Eileen Hilton et al in 1992 reported that daily consumption of 8 ounces of yogurt containing live Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria was associated with significant lower rates of vulvovaginal Candidiasis as compared to those consuming yogurt without viable bacteria (Hilton et al. Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis. Annals of Internal Medicine 1992;116(5):353-7)

Topic application of probiotic bacteria may also reduce risk of Vulvovaginal Candidiasis. An Italian study treated 30 women with recurrent vulvovaginal Candidiasis with a topical tablet containing Lactobacillus bacteria placed in the vagina. Such vaginal tablets contained 0.4 billion live cells of Acidophilus fermentum and Lactobacillus acidophilus. In addition, these tablets contained a small amount of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate to provide effervescence and 332 mg of “prebiotic” fructo-oligosaccharides and 273 mg of “prebiotic” arabinogalactan. Such prebiotics are helpful in promoting Lactobacillus growth.

The 30 women used 1 tablet a day for the first week and then used 1 tablet a day for the next 3 weeks. After 4 weeks treatment, vulvovaginal Candidiasis symptoms were significantly improved in 26 out of 30 women (87%). Larger, double-blind studies of topical vaginal probiotic treatments are needed.

Franco Vicariotto et al. Effectiveness Of the Association of 2 Probiotic Strains Formulated in a Slow Release Vaginal Product, in Women Affected by Vulvovaginal Candidiasis. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 2012;46 (Supplement 1):S73-80.

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