I've heard probiotics can improve gut health, but what do vaginal probiotics do? Should I use them?
A. No matter what part of the body they're used for, probiotics are live microorganisms that, ideally, offer health benefits. Vaginal probiotics containing these microorganisms come in oral pills and powders, as well as suppository capsules meant to be inserted into the vagina.
Advertisements would have us believe that vaginal probiotics — just like douches — will somehow make us feel "cleaner" or healthier. Some ads even claim these products can prevent or treat conditions such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or urinary tract infections.
The reality is, the vagina typically does a fine job of regulating its own diverse mix of naturally occurring bacteria and other organisms. Vaginal probiotics, therefore, just aren't necessary. If you notice any strange vaginal symptoms, don't run to the drugstore for probiotics — instead, talk to your doctor.
Image: © Grace Cary/Getty Images
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.