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Keywords:

  • Acidophilus;
  • Candida;
  • Lactobacillus;
  • Vaginitis;
  • Yeast infection

Objective: To review literature examining exogenous Lactobacillus therapy for vulvovaginal candidiasis and to discuss recommendations for clinical practice and future research.

Data Sources: Computerized searches on MEDLINE and CINAHL November 2000, September 2001, and March 2002, with search terms including Lactobacillus, acidophilus, Candida, and yeast infections.

Study Selection: Relevant English-language articles from the past 10 years. Unique or seminal studies included where pertinent.

Data Extraction and Synthesis: Data organized under the following headings: endogenous Lactobacillus, exogenous Lactobacillus, Candida, studies of intravaginal Lactobacillus therapy for vulvovaginal candidiasis, studies of oral Lactobacillus therapy for vulvovaginal candidiasis.

Conclusions: Vaginally administered or orally ingested Lactobacillus is able to colonize the vaginal ecosystem. Controlled intervention studies regarding the effect of such colonization on vulvovaginal candidiasis are promising but few. These studies had small numbers of participants, were inconsistent in the form of Lactobacillus used, and reported conflicting results. Further randomized controlled trials involving large numbers of women are imperative. In the meantime, health care providers should discuss potential benefits with affected patients while clarifying the current lack of conclusive evidence. Without further research into currently available sources and brands of Lactobacillus and without governmental regulation of supplements and their contents, however, it is difficult to make recommendations regarding appropriate product choice.