When you go through enough vaginal issues, like chronic yeast infections long enough, you'll do just about anything to get rid of the pesky problem for good. 

That includes taking supplements that promise to help your vagina thrive. 

Does this scenario sound familiar? You Google a vaginal health symptom, and then hop over to Instagram to scroll and (like magic!) you're now targeted with sponsored ads from companies offering supplements and products that seem like the answer to your vaginal woes. 

But how do you know which ones are actually worth it, which ones may be a waste of money, and worst-case scenario, which ones may do more harm than good? 

From probiotics to prebiotics to vitamins, we break down the existing research to explain the efficacy around some of the most popular vaginal supplements. 

What are vaginal health supplements?

First, let's get into what vaginal supplements are. Vaginal health supplements are over-the-counter pills, creams, or suppositories that are marketed to treat vaginal symptoms. 

Examples include pH balance pills, probiotics with strains geared toward vaginal health, and vitamins that claim to support vaginal health (aka the type of vaginal wellness supplement that may be advertised to you on Instagram!)

Generally, a lot of these are taken orally, but some are placed directly into the vagina. 

Just like any medication, it’s important to know the benefits and risks of taking something that can impact your health. So are vaginal supplements really helpful or harmful? 

The answer depends on what exact ingredients are in the supplement. As always, a gynecologist is your best resource for getting personalized recommendations about any vaginal health concerns you are having and can help you weigh the options

In the meantime, here’s the breakdown of all of the major vaginal supplements out there and what you need to know in terms of efficacy and science surrounding the claims. 

Types of vaginal supplements 

Probiotics: Probiotics are supplements that contain live micro-organisms that confer a health benefit. You can take probiotics via an oral capsule, in food, or in a vaginal suppository. The goal behind taking probiotics for vaginal health is to help populate the vagina with beneficial bacteria, especially if you are low in good bacteria. For all your probiotic-related questions check out our in-depth article on vaginal probiotics here

Prebiotics: Prebiotics aren't bacterial strains, but serve either directly as a food source for good bacteria, or help stimulate an environment for bacteria to flourish. For a summary of the differences of probiotics and prebiotics check out this post

Vitamins: This includes vitamins that are specifically marketed to support vaginal health.

Vitamin E for vaginal health

TL;DR: Some evidence exists that indicates Vitamin E can be helpful for vaginal dryness but more studies are needed due to the overall lack of research and the limited sample size of the studies that have been done There is also a chance of irritation and side effects if you do try it, which you should be aware of!  

How do you take Vitamin E? 

Vitamin E can be taken orally in a supplement form, but for this post, we'll be talking about vitamin E vaginal suppositories since, as of right now, there are no studies on the effect of vitamin E supplements taken orally on vaginal health.

Some studies show that vitamin E suppositories can help with vaginal dryness, but more research needs to be done. Here’s what we know to date:

  • A 2016 study looked at postmenopausal women experiencing vaginal dryness due to vaginal atrophy. Half of the women were given vitamin E suppositories and half were given estrogen vaginal cream (which has been shown to improve symptoms of vaginal atrophy) for 10 weeks. Notably, four of the study participants had to stop using vitamin E due to unwanted side effects like burning and increased vaginal discharge. 
  • The 22 women who did complete the vitamin E treatment found roughly the same relief as the estrogen users, which indicates there is some potential for vitamin E suppositories as a non-hormonal option for vaginal dryness. 

Hyaluronic Acid for Vaginal Health

TL;DR: There is some evidence that hyaluronic acid applied to the vagina topically or via a suppository can help aid vaginal dryness

How do you use Hyaluronic Acid? 

You've probably heard of the moisturizing properties of hyaluronic acid for your face (we love a spa moment).  Good news is that the research on using it for vaginal dryness is also promising!  Relatively recent research shows that hyaluronic acid (applied directly to the vagina) can be a promising alternative to estrogen therapy for vaginal dryness and irritation

Here’s what we know from the research: 

P.S. We all love a good two-in-one but don’t use a facial product with Hylaluronic Acid on or in your vagina. If you’re thinking about using Hyaluronic Acid for vaginal dryness, contact a health provider! 

Sea buckthorn Oil for Vaginal Health

Thanks to conflicting results and limited sample size, the jury is still out on whether or not orally consuming sea buckthorn oil can reliably improve vaginal symptoms. The bad news is there's not enough evidence to support claims that it works orally or vaginally.  The better news is that it's not shown to be harmful for vaginal health, so if it’s working for you, it likely won’t make your problems worse.  

How do you use sea buckthorn oil?

Sea buckthorn oil is another ingredient that is commonly used in facial skincare products, but it can also be consumed orally. 

Here’s what we know about the effectiveness of sea buckthorn oil on vaginal atrophy (aka when the tissues inside the vagina become thin, dry, and inflamed) when consumed oraly:

  • One study published in 2014 followed 98 post-menopausal women who orally consumed either placebo or 3 grams of sea buckthorn oil daily for 3 months. The results were conflicting, and there wasn't enough evidence to show a real difference in the women who took seabuckthorn oil. 

Another use for sea buckthorn oil is applying it vaginally. In another study published in 2019 researchers assessed a vaginal cream that contained seabuckthorn oil and hyaluronic acid. 

Researchers found a significant decrease in vaginal pH in women who used the cream compared to a no-treatment control. With this study, it's important to note that it had a small sample size and we're unclear if the positive results were due to the addition of the hyaluronic acid. 

Omega-3 Fish Oil for Vaginal Health

TL;DR: Omega-3 and fish oil supplements may benefit your vagina, but we need a lot more research to understand exactly how and why it might be worth incorporating into your vaginal healthcare routine. 

Is there a difference between Omega-3 supplements and fish oil supplements? 

Omega-3 supplements are marketed for helping with a ton of health concerns— with vaginal health being one of them. Before diving into the research surrounding omega-3 supplements for vaginal health, it's important to know that omega-3 and fish oil supplements are not one and the same. So not all of these supplements have the exact ratio of omega-3 fatty acids, and ingredients and dose can vary by supplement. 

How do you use Omega-3 supplements?

Omega-3 supplements typically consumed orally.

Omega-3 supplements and estrogen

One of the claims surrounding omega-3 and fish oil supplements for vaginal health is that it can support estrogen levels. Estrogen plays a key role in hormonal and vaginal health. It helps produce glycogen, the main food source for protective bacteria called Lactobacilli that help keep your vaginal environment acidic. When it comes to your vaginal health, estr0gen is kind of like Goldilocks—too little estrogen can increase your risk for bacterial vaginosis, while too much of it can bring on a yeast infection

But the reality is that the relationship between omega-3 and estrogen is still very much unknown.

Here’s what we know from the research:

  • Two studies that claim omega-3 fatty acids support feminine health used very different supplements, and have conflicting results. 

Omega-3 supplements and the vaginal microbiome 

A recently published study looked at how fish oil may affect the vaginal microbiome in pregnant women.

Even with these findings, it's unclear just how much of an effect omega-3 fish oils may change the vaginal microbiome. 

At this point we sound like a broken record, but more research (especially research on non-pregnant women) is needed to fully understand the relationship. 

Lactoferrin for Vaginal Health

If you’re experiencing cyclical vaginal infections or symptoms, you may have read about the oral lactoferrin supplement, which research shows may help increase the effectiveness of vaginal probiotics when taken alongside them.

What is Lactoferrin?

Lactoferrin is a protein naturally made by your immune system that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and promotes the growth of the good bacteria, Lactobacillus

Can lactoferrin help promote protective bacteria and reduce disruptive bacteria? 

Research has shown that when lactoferrin is taken alongside vaginal probiotics, it may help increase their effectiveness. Keep in mind that if you take lactoferrin there is a slight risk for GI distress, however, this could be due to the probiotics it is usually formulated with. When lactoferrin is taken on its own it tends to have very few side effects.

Lactulose for Vaginal Health

You might have heard of claims surrounding taking lactulose to "feed lactobacilli and starve bad bacteria/pathogens," but know that to date, there is no human research on taking lactulose vaginally. 

What is Lactulose? 

Lactobacillus makes lactic acid by fermenting simple carbohydrates like glucose, sucrose, lactose, or galactose using glycolysis (their central metabolic pathway). 

When taken orally, Lactulose is used to treat liver disease and constipation (it is a laxative) and is a compound made up of 2 sugars (disaccharide) - 1 galactose and 1 fructose linked by a bond resistant to lactase.

This formation of sugars can not be absorbed in the small intestine, but it is metabolized in the gut which produces methane (so it can cause flatulence) acetic acid, and lactic acid. 

What is the effect of taking Lactulose vaginally? 

Though there are no human trials on taking lactulose vaginally, one in-vitro study in 2018 found that lactulose did enhance the growth of vaginal lactobacilli.  It also limited the growth of Candida albicans and A. vaginae, but did not affect the growth of Gardnerella, P. bivia, or Mobiluncus.

The best way to supplement is to take the ones you actually know you need. One way to find out which types what types of supplements could worth considering for your body need is through testing. Evvy's Vaginal Microbiome Test so you can get to the bottom of what's causing your symptoms and help you find real, effective solutions for your body.

Recurrent symptoms? Meet Evvy's at-home vaginal microbiome test, approved by leading OB-GYNs.
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The best way to supplement is to take the ones you actually know you need. One way to find out which types what types of supplements could worth considering for your body need is through testing. Evvy's Vaginal Microbiome Test so you can get to the bottom of what's causing your symptoms and help you find real, effective solutions for your body.

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