Vitamins, minerals and supplements for vaginal health

The condition of your vagina affects your overall health. The term “vaginal health” covers a wide range of factors, from sex to fertility to general hygiene.

A healthy vagina maintains the correct pH and is free of infections. Fortunately, there are several ways to ensure vaginal health, including supplements.

Researchers have studied various supplements for vaginal health, some of which seem more promising than others. These supplements contain vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients.

This article covers the use of supplements to support vaginal health, including scientific evidence and specific examples. It also examines the causes of vaginal microbiome imbalance, the impact of nutrient deficiencies on vaginal health, and visits to a health care provider.

Getty Images/Olga Rolenko


Why do people use supplements to support vaginal health?

Like the gut, the vagina has a microbiome made up of beneficial microorganisms that help maintain its health.

The vaginal flora (bacteria) consists mostly of Lactobacillus species. The main function of these and other species of bacteria found in the vagina is to produce antimicrobial compounds that fight off potentially harmful substances.

However, sometimes the vaginal microbiome can become unbalanced.

An imbalance in the vaginal microbiome can allow the growth of harmful bacteria and other organisms that can lead to bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), urinary tract infections (UTIs), and poor fertility.

To maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome, some people turn to nutritional supplements.

There is evidence that certain supplements are beneficial for vaginal health. For the most part, these supplements are believed to help restore the vaginal microbiome and prevent infections and other problems.

It should be noted that nutritional supplements are never intended to replace the usual treatment of vaginal diseases (or other diseases). Instead, nutritional supplements can act as a complementary treatment for vaginal health.

Below is the science behind popular vaginal health supplements.

Probiotics

Probiotics are usually prescribed for gastrointestinal conditions, but they can also be beneficial for vaginal health.

Probiotics are “good” bacteria found in certain foods and supplements that can improve the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract and reproduction.

According to one review, the use of probiotic supplements can support the vaginal microbiome and improve its immune defenses. Probiotics have been found to play a role in the treatment of BV and vaginal atrophy in several studies. There is also evidence that the use of probiotics can slow the progression of cervical cancer.

When it comes to using probiotics for vaginal health, taking them orally may be best. Although both suppositories and oral probiotics are believed to be effective, oral probiotics may provide an additional benefit to the gut microbiome.

Zinc

Zinc is a trace element that is essential for many aspects of your health, including cell growth, hormone regulation, and reproduction. Research shows that zinc protects the reproductive system by acting as an antioxidant.

When used externally, zinc can improve vaginal dryness and other menopausal symptoms.

In a small pilot study, women with certain menopausal symptoms, such as vaginal dryness, burning, itching, and pain, used a gel moisturizer containing zinc for two weeks. After using zinc gel, participants experienced improvements in these symptoms, with the most significant improvements occurring in vaginal dryness.

More research is needed to determine whether zinc can be used in other ways to promote vaginal health.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins. It also acts as an antioxidant that protects cells and tissues from damage.

Several studies have shown the potential benefits of vitamin E in vaginal changes associated with menopause. However, researchers believe that vitamin E is best used as a complementary treatment. For example, when used alongside hormone replacement therapy (HRT), vitamin E can alleviate vaginal atrophy, a common symptom of menopause.

Compared to placebo, suppositories derived from vitamin E have been found to significantly improve menopausal vaginal symptoms. However, it is worth noting that more information is needed on the dosage and safety of vitamin E for vaginal health.

Vitamin D

Like vitamin E, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that may be beneficial in certain vaginal health conditions.

According to one study, insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels may increase the risk of BV. The study compared women with BV to healthy controls. The researchers found that women with BV were more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D in their blood than controls.

Vitamin D has also been studied for its possible role during menopause.

A review of available studies found that vitamin D may affect vaginal pH, improve vaginal symptoms, prevent vaginal infections, and improve sexual function in postmenopausal women. Both topical and oral vitamin D supplements have been found to promote vaginal health.

However, not all studies of vitamin D supplements for vaginal health have found positive or even consistent results. Further research should be done.

vitamin C

Vitamin C is often considered an alternative treatment for BV and other vaginal health problems. However, there are very few recent studies that support these claims.

A 2013 study compared the effects of vitamin C to a placebo in women with recurrent BV. Participants used vitamin C suppositories or placebo tablets six consecutive days per month for six months. Those who used vitamin C tablets experienced significantly fewer recurrences of BV compared to those who took placebo tablets.

Vitamin C itself is acidic. Therefore, vitamin C is thought to prevent BV by lowering vaginal pH, which is typically left in the vaginal flora under healthy conditions.

A few additional studies have been conducted on vitamin C and its effects on vaginal health. Updated research is needed.

Fish oil

Fish oil supplements, a common source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, have been used to treat a variety of vaginal health problems.

One study compared the effects of a fish oil supplement on vaginal health to probiotics and a placebo in pregnant women. Compared to placebo, participants who took fish oil supplements throughout pregnancy had less potentially harmful bacteria in their vaginal microbiome. Fish oil was also shown to improve the vaginal microbiome when combined with probiotics.

It is claimed that fish oil and omega-3 fatty acid supplements can also improve vaginal dryness. However, this claim is supported by very little research.

More research is needed to better understand how fish oil can affect vaginal health.

What does a healthy vaginal pH mean?

Vaginal pH determines whether your vagina is acidic, alkaline, or neutral.

Normal vaginal pH values ​​for women of childbearing age range from 3.8 to 5.0, which is slightly acidic. Vaginal pH values ​​usually rise slightly when a woman has menopause.

Factors influencing the vaginal microbiome

The vaginal microbiome can change for a number of reasons. While some changes are normal, an imbalance in the microbiome can lead to BV, a yeast infection, or other problems.

The vaginal microbiome naturally changes during hormonal fluctuations. These include puberty, the menstrual cycle, menopause and pregnancy.

An imbalance of the vaginal microbiome can also be caused by unprotected sex, the use of antibiotics or douching.

If your vaginal pH or microbiome is off, you may notice itching, burning, abnormal discharge, or an unusual odor.

Can vitamin deficiency cause vaginal problems?

Certain vitamin deficiencies can cause problems for vaginal health.

Some evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be the cause of BV and other vaginal health problems. One study found that women with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to develop BV.

Other studies have found a link between low levels of vitamin D and worse menopausal symptoms, including menopausal heart disease.

Deficiencies in other vitamins, minerals and nutrients can also affect vaginal health. However, there is no solid evidence that other deficiencies lead to vaginal problems.

To ensure vaginal health, it is best to follow a balanced diet that contains all the necessary nutrients.

When to see a healthcare professional

Some vaginal problems require a visit to a health care provider.

It is important to be aware of possible signs and symptoms that indicate something is wrong with your vaginal health. Knowing these signs and symptoms is just one way to take care of your vaginal health.

Possible signs of vaginal problems include:

  • Abnormal discharge
  • Intense itching
  • Pain during sex
  • Swelling and pain
  • Fishy smell
  • Burning sensation
  • Sunburn
  • Pain when urinating

Some of these symptoms may come and go, but any that are severe or persistent should be checked out. You should also contact your healthcare provider if you know you have been exposed to an STD, or if you have a fever, or if you develop vaginal sores or blisters.

The healthcare provider evaluates your symptoms and prepares a treatment plan. Treatments may include medication, home care, or a variety of alternative therapies.

Summary

Vaginal health is a key factor in overall health, and it all starts with the vaginal microbiome.

The risk of infections and other problems increases if the vaginal microbiome is out of balance. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your microbiome healthy, including supplements.

Research shows that certain supplements can support the vaginal microbiome as well as other aspects of vaginal health. However, supplements should only be used as a complementary treatment and under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are interested in using supplements for vaginal health or if you have symptoms of a vaginal disease.

#Vitamins #minerals #supplements #vaginal #health
Image Source : www.verywellhealth.com

Leave a Comment