Cervical cancer leads to more than 300,000 deaths globally.

Despite screenings, treatments and a revolutionary vaccine to disarm the human papilloma virus (HPV) strains that are most responsible for cervical cancer, many women —mostly in low-income countries — continue to die.

Vaginal microbiota and HPV

Cervicovaginal microbiota may play a substantial role in the persistence or regression of the HPV virus. In a recent review I wrote for the International Probiotics Association, I delved into the evidence and how it may offer a way forward to prevent or treat HPV: Probiotics and Human Papillomavirus: A Look at the Research

The vaginal microbiota when overtaken by pathogens (dysbiosis) or when populated by less than optimum organisms causes a cascade of events that can drive infection. Researchers posit that probiotics may replenish the depleted pool of the healthy Lactobacillus spp., and thereby promote HPV clearance.

Can probiotics help clear HPV?

The article looks at the rationale of using probiotic strains in HPV clearance via three proposed mechanisms  as well as three studies investigating the association between probiotics and HPV. Three studies are not much. And certainly not enough, given this promising new angle for confronting a deadly disease.

“Given the emerging evidence that suggests cervicovaginal microbiota plays an important role in the acquisition and persistence of HPV infection and subsequent disease, the paucity of well-designed studies testing probiotic interventions is surprising. Screenings, treatments and vaccines have proven revolutionary in reducing cervical cancer yet hundreds of thousands still die every year.”


  • Do what you can do to limit negative influences (see article) on your vaginal microbiota.
  • Consider a probiotic supplement formulated for women.
  • Eat fermented foods including yogurt, kimchi and kefir, which may provide probiotic organisms.
  • Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, some of which may act as prebiotic foods to feed your beneficial microbes.