Probiotics for the treatment of women with bacterial vaginosis

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2007 Jul;13(7):657-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2007.01688.x.


This review considers whether probiotics are effective agents for the treatment and/or prevention of bacterial vaginosis (BV). There seems to be an association between the absence of, or low concentrations of, vaginal lactobacilli and the development of BV. Many studies have suggested that the presence of H2O2-producing vaginal lactobacilli may protect against BV, although some studies do not support this hypothesis. In-vitro studies have suggested that certain specific strains of lactobacilli are able to inhibit the adherence of Gardnerella vaginalis to the vaginal epithelium and/or produce H2O2, lactic acid and/or bacteriocins, which inhibit the growth of bacteria causing BV. Clinical trials showed that intra-vaginal administration of Lactobacillus acidophilus for 6-12 days, or oral administration of L. acidophilus or Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus fermentum RC-14 for 2 months, resulted in the cure of BV (defined as a 0-1 positive score according to Amsel's criteria), and/or reduced the recurrences of BV, and/or caused an increase in vaginal lactobacilli and restoration of a normal vaginal microbiota, significantly more frequently than did a placebo, acetic acid or no treatment. However, several trials have found no significant difference in the cure rate of BV and in the number of vaginal lactobacilli after intra-vaginal instillation of lactobacilli when compared with the effect of a placebo or oestrogen. Thus, although the available results concerning the effectiveness of the administration of lactobacilli for the treatment of BV are mostly positive, it cannot yet be concluded definitively that probiotics are useful for this purpose.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / growth & development
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / isolation & purification
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / classification
  • Lactobacillus / growth & development*
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / growth & development
  • Lactobacillus fermentum / growth & development
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus / growth & development
  • Middle Aged
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / therapy*