Healthy vaginal microflora (primarly Lactobacilli species) play an important role in supporting vaginal health, helping to keep the genitourinary tract slightly acidic to protect against pathogens and infections.
As oestrogen levels fall during menopause however, the levels of Lactobacilli bacteria in the vagina are depleted, potentially allowing increases in harmful bacteria. A study of pre- and post-menopausal women found no Lactobacillus species in half of the menopausal women and those women with these strains had much smaller amounts than the non-menopausal women. As a result, post-menopausal women are more prone to genito-urinary infections, including UTIs and fungal infection.
This loss of Lactobacillus has also been associated with vaginal atrophy and dryness and the consumption of lactobacillus bacteria may help to maintain the bacterial balance in the vagina and to alleviate some of these symptoms.