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A Healthy Microbiome in Your Pants

by Carly Neubert, BA, NC on February 28, 2023

Yes, you read that right. This one is for the ladies, although the principle applies to men also. I’m talking about what goes on in the areas of your body that are usually covered by pants. I’m specifically outlining what you need for a healthy microbiome in your vagina and how Orthomolecular’s Ortho Biotic Women’s can support that goal. 

When you read the word “microbiome” you may not even have a concept of what or where that is. Your microbiome is a fancy word for talking about all of the bacteria, yeast, fungi, parasites, and other lifeforms that live on or inside of you. Prior to the Human Microbiome Project research, we humans ego-centrically thought that we were all made of mostly human cells. Just like everyone before Galileo thought that the earth was the center of the universe, we believed that our human cells were the center of our existence, but this is not accurate. The Human Microbiome Project has proven that our human cells only make up about 10% of the total cell count in our bodies. The other 90% of cells belong to the microscopic critters that live in and on us----our microbiomes.

One of the areas with a particularly large amount of bacteria and yeast (both helpful and harmful), for women, are their vaginas. There are more than 50 different microbes that live inside your vagina as part of your vaginal microbiome. When the balance of bacteria and yeast is off kilter, we commonly call this a “vaginal yeast infection” or "vaginal bacteriosis.” A yeast infection is sometimes called candida or candidiasis because it is an overgrowth of Candida Albicans or another strain of yeast. Vaginal bacteriosis is also referred to as Bacterial vaginosis (or vaginitis)  and abbreviated as BV. 

What causes changes in your vaginal microbiome?  

There are endless variables that can cause changes in the bacteria and yeast in your vagina. 

Here is the short list of common causes of changes in vaginal microbiome balance. Significant changes to any of the following areas can cause or address yeast infections or vaginal bacteriosis:

  • Age
  • Sexual activity
  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Menstruation
  • Poor hygiene
  • Change in environment 
  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle factors such as sleep, exercise and stress levels
  • Antibiotic use 

You may have scoffed when you read this list, because it seems like just about anything can change your vaginal microbiome. In fact, the short list seems to indicate that just being a woman with hormones, which we all have, is enough to cause microbiome imbalances. You are right, anything you do, eat, or put on can change your microbiome balance for good or bad.  

That is why it is important to consider your microbiome health when choosing your lifestyle and diet.

While there are about 50 different microbes that can live inside your vagina, there are a few stand-outs that can keep things in balance and keep you free of symptoms and infections. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 are the good-guys that have been researched and proven to reduce symptoms of both vaginal bacteriosis and yeast infections.  Both of these probiotics can both kill pathogenic (bad) bacteria and yeast and balance the pH in your vagina.  

Here are a few of the many studies that show success with Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri:
Vaginal Microbiota and the Use of Probiotics

Changes in vaginal microbiota following antimicrobial and probiotic therapy

Does probiotics work for bacterial vaginosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis

How to use Ortho Biotic Women’s

I recommend using Ortho Biotic Women’s probiotic for at least 6 weeks because that is the time span used in the medical study. The bottle contains 60 capsules and I recommend 1 capsule per day on an empty stomach.  


Do I need a balanced pH in my vagina?

Yes, if you keep your vagina at a 4, which is slightly acidic, you are less likely to get bacteria or yeast overgrowth. This is because Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri, and other Lactobacillus species, thrive in this pH and create lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Both byproducts, lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, control the invading species of bacteria and yeast that can cause infections.  

How can I change my vaginal pH?
Changing your vaginal microbiome will change the pH. Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri both produce lactic acid and peroxide which will support healthy vaginal pH. 

What is a healthy vaginal pH?  

Vaginal pH should be anywhere from 4-4.5 to prevent infections and symptoms. 

How do I get a good pH in my vagina?

When your vaginal pH is off, either too high or too low, you will likely have symptoms of an infection including a smell. An infection is a signal that your vaginal microbiome is imbalanced. Deodorizers, sprays, or perfumes will only mask the problem. Taking an oral probiotic with Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri will help to re-establish a healthy microbiome balance. If the imbalance is severe, meaning you have a yeast or bacteria overgrowth, there are many natural remedies to reduce the overgrowth.

How do I know if I have a yeast infection or candidiasis?  

Yeast infection symptoms can range from mild to severe and debilitating.  

  • Itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva
  • A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva
  • Vaginal pain and soreness
  • Vaginal rash
  • Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance
  • Watery vaginal discharge

    How do I know if I have bacterial vaginosis?

    While some of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis can be the same as a yeast infection, there are a few differences:

    • A thin white or gray vaginal discharge
    • Pain, itching, or burning in the vagina
    • A strong fish-like odor, especially after sex
    • Burning when peeing 
    • Itching around the outside of the vagina.

      What causes vaginal odor?

      An overgrowth of bacteria, called vaginal bacteriosis, is usually the cause of vaginal odor.  An overgrowth can cause an odor as well, but it is less frequently the source of the smell. 

      What causes the fish smell in your vagina?

      Imbalanced vaginal microbiome will cause a fishy smell in your vagina and around your vulva and labia. The most common cause of the smell is an overgrowth of bacteria. 

      How do I prevent yeast infections?

      You can prevent both yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis by keeping your microbiome balanced. That seems easier said than done. The concept to keep in mind is microbe balance. For all bad habits you have that cause overgrowth of bacteria and yeast, you need to compensate by putting in more good microbes, specifically Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri to keep a healthy balance.  

      What probiotic is best for yeast infections? 

      So far the research has identified Lactobacillus probiotic microbes as the best way to keep your vaginal microbiome healthy and balanced. 

      How do I control vaginal discharge?  

      Vaginal discharge is a normal byproduct of your vagina.  When the discharge is discolored, thick, and or smells foul, it is a clue that you have an imbalance that is or could lead to a yeast infection/candidiasis or bacterial vaginosis. 

      Now that science has tied our microbiome to every aspect of our health as a species, it is no wonder that probiotics are becoming more and more popular.  Using targeted probiotic formulas, like Ortho Biotic Women’s is a proven way to manage your vaginal microbiome. If you want to strategize about your microbiome health, schedule a consult with me, Carly Neubert BA, NC.