Condoms are often propagated for safe sex and unwanted pregnancies. But according to new findings, its use also promotes healthy vaginas.
The study, published online in the journal PLOS One, suggests that condoms help good bacteria in the vagina to flourish, promoting vaginal health.
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the Beijing Friendship Hospital, China looked at 164 healthy, Chinese married women, between ages 18 and 45.
All participants underwent vaginal examination to check the presence of lactobacillus, bacteria that helps prevent bacterial vaginosis(BV), bacterial imbalance responsible for vaginal itching, discharge, and foul odor. Its presence also reduces the risk of HIV infection.
Researchers found that the population of lactobacillus was significantly higher in the women in the condom group. Such women had a 95.8 percent prevalence of lactobacillus as against 84.2 percent in the IUD group, and 88.6 percent in the rhythm group.
The presence of lactobacillus produces lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide required for maintaining the vaginal pH balance between 4 and 5.
On the contrary, sperms have a basic pH balance of 7.2.
Having unprotected sex disrupts this balance, impairing the functioning of lactobacillus bacteria, leading to vaginal problems.
“As a perfect barrier, condom can help maintain the vaginal acidic buffer system and the vaginal lactobacilli population when sperm enters vagina during sex,” the researchers wrote.