The role of lactobacilli and probiotics in maintaining vaginal health

Abstract

Background

The vaginal microbiota of healthy women consists typically of a diversity of anaerobic and aerobic microorganisms. Lactobacilli are the most prevalent and often numerically dominant microorganisms and are relevant as a barrier to infection. The capacity of lactobacilli to adhere and compete for adhesion sites in the vaginal epithelium and the capacity to produce antimicrobial compounds (hydrogen peroxide, lactic acid, bacteriocin-like substances), are important in the impairment of colonization by pathogens.

Objective

This review summarizes the role of lactic acid bacteria in preventing illness of the host, including bacterial vaginosis, yeast vaginitis, urinary tract infection and sexually transmitted diseases.

Conclusions

The administration of probiotics that colonize the vaginal tract can be important in maintaining a normal urogenital health and also to prevent or treat infections.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by National Funds from FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia through project PEst-OE/EQB/LA0016/2011. Financial support for author S. Borges was provided by PhD fellowship, SFRH/BD/45496/2008 (FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia). Editing of this manuscript by Dr P.A. Gibbs is gratefully acknowledged.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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Correspondence to Paula Teixeira.

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Borges, S., Silva, J. & Teixeira, P. The role of lactobacilli and probiotics in maintaining vaginal health. Arch Gynecol Obstet 289, 479–489 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-013-3064-9

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Keywords

  • Urogenital tract
  • Lactobacilli
  • Vaginal microbiota
  • Probiotics