Doderlein bacilli, also called lactobacilli, are bacteria that are part of the normal microbiota of the vagina and are responsible for protecting the intimate region of the woman and preventing the proliferation of microorganisms that can cause diseases when they are in excess, as is the case of Candida sp. and the Gardnerella Sp.
The disease happens when the amount of lactobacilli decreases, which can happen due to changes in the immune system, use of antibiotics or unprotected sexual intercourse, favoring the development of fungi and bacteria and leading to the emergence of signs and symptoms of infection.
Lactobacilli protect the intimate region of the woman by consuming glycogen, produced by the cells of the vagina under the influence of the hormone estrogen, and convert it to lactic acid, which leaves the vagina with the pH around 3.8 – 4.5 and thus prevents the appearance and proliferation of bacteria and fungi that harm health.
Doderlein’s bacilli in excess is bad?
Excess Doderlein bacillus poses no risk to women’s health and may even be considered beneficial, since they are protective bacteria of the female intimate region.
This excess can be perceived through a whitish and odorless discharge that usually does not present more serious symptoms, however in rarer cases, the woman may report typical symptoms of a urinary infection, such as itching, redness, and burning when urinating.
If these symptoms occur, it is important to go to the gynecologist for the correct diagnosis, as it may be a bacterial or fungal infection.
What can decrease the amount of bacilli
Some situations may make women more susceptible to the occurrence of infections from the decrease in the amount of Doderlein bacilli, such as:
- Use of antibiotics;
- Poor hygiene of the intimate region;
- Low immunity;
- Wearing tight clothing;
- Unprotected sex.
The amount of lactobacilli also decreases during the menstrual period, in the postpartum and breastfeeding period, because there is a decrease in estrogen concentration, which decreases glycogen production and, consequently, the conversion into lactic acid by the bacterium, increasing the pH of the vagina and allowing there to be proliferation of other bacteria, including the Gardnerella vaginalis, which is responsible for bacterial vaginosis.
When treatment is required
Treatment is usually used in cases where the woman has a decrease in the amount of Doderlein bacillus. In these situations, the doctor usually indicates to make use of probiotics that aid in the reconstruction of the vaginal flora, such as the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus. The reconstitution of the flora can also be done with a sitting bath in which the water contains an open capsule of probiotics.
In addition, it is important to have a healthy diet, do regular physical exercises, avoid wearing very tight clothes, always perform good hygiene of the intimate region and use cotton panties to preserve bacterial flora and prevent fungi and other bacteria from prolifer.