Probiotics And Lactoferrin Help Treat Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

Science of Fungus

The common yeast (mold) Candida is a frequent cause of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. About 75% of women of reproductive age will get recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis at least once and about 50% will have 2 or more episodes. Recurrent vulvovaginal Candidiasis can cause many bad effects including vaginal itching/ burning/ discharge, inflammation, vaginal discharge, foul vaginal odor, pain/ irritation with sexual intercourse, painful urination, and complications of pregnancy including premature birth.

Diabetes and the use of antibiotics and birth control pills can increase risk of vulvovaginal candidiasis. Vulvovaginal candidiasis is most commonly caused by Candida albicans but other Candida species can also cause vulvovaginal candidiasis including C. glabrata, C. krusei, C tropicalis, and C. parasilosis.


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Use of oral probiotic bacteria has also been shown to reduce risk of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. An Italian study treated 48 women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis with the oral antifungal clotrimazole 100 mg daily for 7 days and then randomized them into 2 groups of 24 women each 1. The first group received 2 capsules of placebo daily while the second group received 5 x 109 Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus plus 50 mg. bovine lactoferrin. After 6 months treatment, the overall cure rate was 70.8% in the group given Lactobacillus and lactoferrin as compared to 0.0% in the placebo group (p<0.01). During the 6 month treatment, recurrences of vulvovaginal candidiasis was seen 29.2% of the Lactobacillus and lactoferrin group as compared to 100.0% in the placebo group (p<0.01).

An earlier study by Eileen Hilton and coworkers treated a group of women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis with 8 ounces daily of yogurt containing Lactobacillus for 6 months 2. Women who ate yogurt daily at an average of 0.38 vulvovaginal candidiasis recurrences in 6 months as compared to an average of 2.54 recurrences in women who did not eat yogurt.

References / Sources:

1. Russo R, Superti F, Karadja E, De Seta F. Randomized clinical trial in women with Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: efficacy of probiotics and lactoferrin as maintenance treatment. Mycoses. 2018.

2. Hilton E, Isenberg HD, Alperstein P, France K, Borenstein MT. Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis. Ann Intern Med. 1992;116(5):353-357.

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