Condoms boost friendly vaginal bacteria

condomsThere are a multitude of reasons you should always use a condom during sex. The two most glaringly obvious ones are that this helps to prevents the contraction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – although there is still a risk with oral sex if no condom is used – and they also severely minimise the chances of an unwanted pregnancy. Using condoms could be viewed as a mature act, showing you take care of your sexual health and are responsible.

The benefits of condoms may extend beyond these factors though, according to a Chinese study which found that sexually active women who use condoms have boosted levels of friendly bacteria called Lactobacillus within the vagina.

Lactobacillus is present in different areas of the body such as the digestive, urinary, and genital systems and supplements of the bacteria are sometimes given to women suffering with vaginal infections or urinary tract infections (UTIs) – although Trimethoprim is still one of the most effective treatments for both cystitis and various other urinary tract infections.

In the vagina, the production of lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide from the Lactobacillus is generally believed to be useful for protection against bacterial vaginosis (BV).

BV is the most common type of vaginal infection and is brought on when there is too much ‘bad’ bacteria and not enough of the ‘good bacteria’. Health experts are still not sure what causes the imbalance to occur but often the risk is increased if: you smoke, are pregnant, have a new sexual partner, have several sexual partners, use scented soap or bubble bath or use vaginal deodorant.

The common symptom is a vaginal discharge which may become very thin and watery, with an unpleasant odour and appear grey or white in colour. Other symptoms include pain after sexual intercourse and pain when urinating.

The Researchers involved in the study at the Beijing Friendship Hospital, assessed the vaginal bacteria of 164 healthy, sexually active married women in China, varying in age between 18 and 45 years old.  All women were not using a hormonal method of contraception.

From the 164 participants, 72 women used condoms, 57 used an intrauterine device (IUD), and 35 were using the ‘rhythm method’. This is where a couple forgoes sexual intercourse during the period of a woman’s cycle when conception is more probable.

Following analysis, it was found that the women using condoms had a 95.8% prevalence of lactobacillus. This was in comparison to just 84.2% in the IUD group and 88.6% in the rhythm group. In addition, a primary factor of normal vaginal microbial flora – L. crispatus – was actually 20% more prevalent in the group using condoms compared to those using an IUD.

The researchers say their study, published in the journal PLOS One, suggests that condoms are beneficial in helping the vagina to maintain its natural acidic defences. “As a perfect barrier, condom can help maintain the vaginal acidic buffer system and the vaginal lactobacilli population when sperm enters vagina during sex,” the researchers wrote.

However, with so many counterfeit condoms  in circulation across the UK and other areas around the world, condoms and other contraception methods should always be obtained from a highly reputable source such as Medical Specialists Pharmacy. You can rest assured that each medication or product dispensed to our patients is 100% genuine. We have a wide range of both Durex and Skins condoms at great prices from our chemist shop, including an incredible deal of 72 Durex Performa condoms for just £60.00!

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