There is much more than Lactobacillus strains in the healthy vaginal microflora.
In fact -get ready for this ladies, because it surprised the heck out of me.
It is possible to have a healthy vagina without ANY Lactobacilli present.1
Sheesh! That trashes a few of my theories!
This 2005 study on 20 "healthy premenopausal women 27-44 years of age, not taking contraceptive steroids, and without complaints of urogenital symptoms or noticeable infection on physical examination of the urogenital tract" does seem to prove it.
The researchers were looking for vaginal bacteria. Amongst these 20 women, they found healthy vaginas that were populated with ONLY Lactobacillus strains and women with NO vaginal Lactobacillus.1 And remember where talking about women with no bacterial vaginosis, no candida, no uti - this is the vaginal microflora of healthy women.
Out of these 20 women
The 9 women with other bacteria living alongside the Lactobacillus, had bacteria from families such as Bifidobacterium, Gardnerella, Atopobium, Corynebacterium and Janthinobacterium.1
When the researchers combined their results with the results from 3 other recent studies on healthy vaginal microflora, they found
It's difficult to know quite what to make of this. Obviously, you can have a bacterial-vaginosis-free vagina without having any Lactobacillus present. This goes against everyhing we've been told for years.
And it is possible for Gardnerella to live there without going crazy and running amock and making your life a misery.
Despite this, there is still one probiotic that is perfect for women trying to normalize their vaginal microflora - Fem Dophilus. It is taken by mouth but will get right where you want it to be by its own mysterious ways!
If you're prone to reoccurring outbreaks of any of the vaginal infections then Fem Dophilus is the best probiotic for you.
Is this, possibly, why some women respond so well to restoring Lactobacillus vaginal bacteria with yogurt or supplements and some women find it doesn't do a thing?
Maybe some vaginas simply don't WANT OR NEED the Lactobacillus strains lurking within the average yogurt.
Don't ever think that because you've tried one type of yogurt and it didn't work, that yogurt is not a cure that will work for you. Different yogurts contain different strains of Lactobacillus and one of them might well be the strain you need.
Be like me - loiter round the yogurt chiller in the supermarket reading labels until the manager tells you to either buy something or move on!
There are THOUSANDS of Lactobacillus strains (although you won't find most of them in yogurt) and the effect any one of them can have on any particular niche in your body can be totally different to another strain.
Each strain of Lactobacillus has its strengths and weaknesses. This applies to all of the probiotics.
One thing is clear, there will be some interesting results coming out over the next year or two. Hopefully, they translate into treatments that women can use to cure bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
1. Hyman RW, Fukushima M, Diamond L, Kumm J,Giudice LC, Davis RW. Microbes on the human vaginal epithelium. The National Academy of Sciences USA 2005 102(22) pp7952-7957