Friday, January 2, 2009

Fem-Dophilus: The Big Debate

In my previous posts, I talked about why probiotics is the right approach to dealing with BV, and how Fem-Dophilus is probably the best single OTC product there is, so far.

The big debate in the Bust Lounge was about whether Fem-Dophilus should be used vaginally.

I understand the urge that many women feel to treat the problem at the source. And I agree that putting the good bacteria right where it needs to be is probably the most effective method.

I don't have a recommendation about what you should do. But here are the Pro's and Con's of the vaginal use of Fem-Dophilus.

Pros:

  • Fem-dophilus was used vaginally during clinical trials by its makers (source)
  • A Bust Lounge member contacted one of the doctors who created Fem-Dophilus (Dr. Gregot Reid) and asked if it could be used vaginally. He answered,"yes."
  • Some Bust Lounge members have used it this way, and have reported no ill effects.

Cons:

  • I'm personally not convinced that a capsule filled with starchy ingredients is the best delivery system for the vagina. (I've had a terrible experience with a similar product, which I will detail in a future post about "thumbs-down" products.)

    The problem is mostly about the capsule not breaking down and dissolving completely, and the pieces mixing with the starchy ingredients inside, causing irritation.
  • A few Bust Lounge members have experienced these same unpleasant effects of trying to use Fem-Dophilus vaginally.


So, should you use Fem-Dophilus vaginally? Personally, I would err on the side of caution, so I would recommend against it. It's effective when taken orally, and that is the safest way. On the other hand, one of the doctors who developed the product endorses vaginal use. The company simply can't market the product this way, because there are more stringent requirements for a vaginal product.

Which brings the issue back to the safety issue - why isn't it officially approved for vaginal use, the same way that Monistat or RepHresh is?

As you can see, I don't have the definite answer about what you should do. I can tell you that vaginal use is "off-label" use, and because of previous bad experiences, I personally wouldn't use it this way. But some ladies do use it this way, so be aware of that.

Some tips: Some users who use the product vaginally also use it along with a acidic lubricant (e.g., RepHresh) which may help the capsule break down better. And one user even takes the powder out of the capsule, and mixes it with a lubricant and applies it with her finger. I'm not personally endorsing any particular way to use it, but just letting you know some of the ways that the product is used.

As you will see if you continue to read my blog, I'm a big believer in presenting all the information, and leaving it to each person to make her decision about which treatment is the best for her.

Of course, none of the this debate is necessary if you just take the product orally. It is very safe that way. No one has ever suffered any ill effects by using Fem-Dophilus exactly as described by the instructions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

OTC Treatment #1: Fem-Dophilus (Thumbs Up)

The best way to combat BV is to replenish the good bacteria in the vaginal flora. So probiotics is the answer. Probiotic = good bacteria.

The trick is figuring out which probiotic you need, and how to get it where it needs to be.

In the Bust Lounge, many ladies have shared their methods for using probiotics, including inserting liquid probiotic products in the vagina several times a week and sleeping on a towel. Unfortunately, not all strains of probiotics will work. You need the probiotic product to contain the right strains of the good bacteria for it to have any effect. And most probiotic products are designed to be used to balance the intestinal flora, not the vaginal flora.

However, there are more products being designed to address the vaginal flora. I'm going to tell you about the best over-the-counter (OTC) treatment for BV there is. A probiotic product called Fem-Dophilus made by Jarrow Formulas.

Some information about Fem-Dophilus:

  1. Top Medical Breakthroughs of 2007 (Prevention Magazine)

  2. Europe's Best-Kept Health Secret (Prevention Magazine)

  3. Study Shows the Effectiveness of Oral Probiotic L. Rhamnosus GR-1™ and L. Reuteri RC-14™ In Treating Bacterial Vaginosis

  4. Specific probiotic strains are effective for genitourinary infections

So as you can see, Fem-Dophilus is a product specifically designed to restore the good bacteria. It contains patented strains of the good bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14® which help restore healthy vaginal flora.

This is the product that got me back in balance after suffering from BV for 7 years. I truly believe that probiotics is the right approach to dealing with BV, and Fem-Dophilus is the product that currently best addresses that need.

While posting in the Bust Lounge, I've been very reluctant to tout Fem-Dophilus as a cure - in part because I didn't want to seem like a spammer or a shill - but also because there have been many such claims made by other posters about other products, and none have turned out to work.

But I've done what I could to share the benefits of this product without inflated promises. And after nearly a year of steady posting about why Fem-Dophilus makes sense, posters began to finally try the product for themselves. Quite a few ladies have taken it, and have had positive results - from dramatic improvement to 100% cure. So I can tell you with confidence that many Bust Lounge members have benefitted from taking Fem-Dophilus, more than any other OTC cures that have been discussed in the thread.

If you take the time to understand why achieving bacterial balance is the right approach to dealing with BV, you'll see why probiotics is the answer.

How to Use Fem-Dophilus:

Fem-Dophilus are oral capsules, and you take one to two each day. The capsules are designed so that the good bacteria survives digestion and will colonize in your vagina.

My Recommendation:

I highly recommend everyone suffering from the Vicious Cycle of BV give Fem-Dophilus a try.

The best way to take it is to take it along with antibiotics (two capsules per day), and continue to take it after you are finished with the antibiotics. This way, the antibiotics will wipe out the bad bacteria, while the Fem-Dophilus re-populates with the good bacteria. Another reason for starting with the antibiotics, which I've mentioned in earlier posts, is that Gardnerella bacteria can travel to the upper genital tracts and may cause damage. So in that case, you would need to take care of that with oral antibiotics.

However, if you cannot take antibiotics (e.g., pregnancy), you should still take Fem-Dophilus to achieve a balanced vaginal flora. Without the antibiotics, the good bacteria may have a bigger hill to climb to achieve dominance in the flora, but it's still worthwhile. (Fem-Dophilus is safe to use during pregnancy. But always check with your OB/GYN first!)

Another reason I recommend Fem-Dophilus is that when used as instructed, it is safe. The worst that can happen is that it doesn't work for you. The only other drawback is that it is expensive, and not widely available.

--

Where to Buy Fem-Dophilus:

  1. Whole Foods Market sells them in their refrigerated probiotics section.
  2. iHerb.com ships them in a cold pack.

Fem-Dophilus needs to be refrigerated. These are the only two sources I know of that stores and sells it refrigerated. You will find many other sources on the internet that sells them un-refrigerated. But be advised that this product contains live organisms, so if you buy it un-refrigerated, the product's potency will be reduced.

I will discuss Fem-Dophilus further in my next post.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

BV: The Vicious Cycle

Now that I've covered the basics - doctor visits and prescription drugs - I'll talk about something that every women needs to understand when it comes to BV: The Vicious Cycle. (Thank you readers, for your patience!)

Some women get BV, they go to the doctor and take antibiotics, and then ... they are cured. These women are the lucky ones.

You are probably reading this blog because you are not one of those women. You're probably dealing with a "Vicious Cycle," an endless recurrence of BV. After taking the antibiotics, you probably feel better for a little while. And then the symptoms come back. And then the whole cycle starts all over again.

It's very important to know why this happens. Although we don't fully understand how women get BV in the first place, I have a pretty good idea about why it recurs.

First of all, it's important to realize that BV is caused by a bacteria imbalance in your vagina's flora. The good bacteria become low in number, and the bad bacteria takes over, and that is how you get BV. So taking the antibiotics kills the bad bacteria, and you feel better.

BUT - and here's the important thing to know - the antibiotics also kill the good bacteria, and does nothing to ensure that the good bacteria will increase once the treatment is over.

That is why taking antibiotics does not prevent you from recurrences, and why so many women suffer from the Vicious Cycle.

And now that we understand how the recurrences occur, we can figure out how some women may get BV in the first place: antibiotics. Many people take antibiotics for many reasons - illness, injury, etc. - so if you have taken antibiotics in the past any reason, you may have upset the balance of your vaginal flora.

The only way to get back in balance is to find a way to restore the good bacteria. And I'm going to cover how to best do that in my next post.