Study Shows Condoms Boost Beneficial Vaginal Bacteria

A new study conducted in China, has shown that condoms boost beneficial vaginal bacteria, adding yet one more reason to the long list of why these latex lifesavers are one of the greatest inventions in human history.

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The new study, published this week in the journal PLOS One, revealed that condoms boost beneficial vaginal bacteria in sexually active women where condom use was regular.

These microbes, called lactobacillus, are a group of bacteria that dominates the natural flora of the vagina for many women. The microbes, which produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, help the vagina maintain an average pH of 4.5, comparable to the acidity of beer or tomato juice. This “acidic buffer system,” as the researchers called it, is thought to block harmful bacteria from taking up residence and causing infections.

There really isn’t a “normal” microbiota for a healthy vagina, but the presence of lactobacillus is thought to help prevent bacterial vaginosis, which is an imbalance of vaginal bacteria that causes itching, unusual discharge and unpleasant odor. Often times this sort of imbalance of vaginal bacteria can occur from unprotected sex (due to semen, which has a pH of 7.0 to 8.0) or switching sexual partners, and from the use of antibiotics, birth control or other medications.

In the new study, the researchers at Beijing Friendship Hospital recruited 164 healthy, married women in China, between 18 and 45 years old, who were not using hormonal birth control, such as the pill, as their regular method of contraception.

Among the participants, 72 were using condoms, 57 were using an intrauterine device (IUD), and 35 were using the so-called rhythm method, in which a couple abstains from sex on the days pregnancy is mostly likely to occur. The researchers found that the population of lactobacillus was significantly higher in the condom group. The results suggest that condoms can help the vagina maintain its natural acidic defenses, the researchers said.

 

Source: PLOS One / Wikipedia.com / LiveScience.com

 

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