We know that probiotics can improve gut health. However, did you know that probiotics can be useful in battling yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infections? Probiotics for women are gaining a lot of traction in wellness circles. Let’s take a look at how to rebuild gut flora naturally with probiotics for women.
The vaginal microbiome is mostly made up of intestinal flora from the Lactobacillus genus. Female hormones estrogen and progesterone support the growth of this beneficial species.
Lactobacilli help to maintain a healthy vaginal pH. Their presence assists the vaginal microbiome by killing off any harmful bacteria that could cause infection .
Gut health research suggests that targeted probiotics for women may positively impact the bacterial landscape of the vaginal microbiome by increasing the number of Lactobacillus [2, 3].
Let’s take a look at how these probiotics supplements are being used to support vaginal health and disease prevention.
Antibiotics and Yeast Infections
Approximately 73% of women report having symptoms of a yeast infection in the past . When diagnosed, these women were mostly combating Candida overgrowth.
Not surprisingly, 35% of these said that their symptoms appeared after they had taken a course of antibiotics. We already know that antibiotics have devastating consequences on our gut microbiome . Gut health research has shown that antibiotics have similar negative effects on the vaginal microbiome as well .
Why Probiotics for Women?
You may be thinking, “Okay, but aren’t there medication to treat vaginal yeast infections?” Yes, there is. Even with this medication, up to 8% of women report getting more than four yeast infections a year .
As the gut health research explained,
“In every age interval, the majority of women with presumed C vaginitis during the previous 2 months reported a history of at least one previous physician-diagnosed infection. The incidence of C vaginitis among women with a history of infection (10.7%) was 12 times higher than that observed among women with no history of infection (0.9%; odds ratio, 12.8; 95% CI, 6.4-26.3). “– Journal of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association
In these situations, many women feel powerless and confused about what to do. It seems like a never-ending cycle. Thankfully, probiotics for women can help.
Lactobacillus and the Vaginal Microbiome
In a healthy vagina, there is an abundance of Lactobacillus bacteria that produce hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid. These stomach bacteria produce these organic compounds to keep the vagina infection-free .
Studies have shown that using specific probiotics supplements can strengthen the population of Lactobacillus bacteria in the vagina. Even though research in this field is still new, the initial results are still promising.
The use of probiotics has the potential to be a way to prevent recurrent yeast infections, and even to stop them from occurring in the first place .
Urinary Tract Infections and Gut Flora
Urinary tract infections (or UTIs) are the most common bacterial infection. Unfortunately, women are much more likely to get UTIs than men. In fact, 1 in 3 women is diagnosed with a UTI by the age of 26 .
The standard treatment for UTIs is antibiotics, and this is an effective treatment.
So, If you were diagnosed with a UTI, you should always follow your doctor’s orders. Antibiotics are the only proven cure for a UTI.
However, as we mentioned, antibiotics may also pose a threat to your gut biome.
Make sure you take probiotics supplements if you are prescribed these medications.
Hope for Recurrent UTIs
Much like yeast infections, many women experience recurrent UTIs. Studies have shown that supplementing with specific stomach bacteria strains alongside prescribed antibiotics may create an environment where pathogens can’t grow .
The abstract states,
“Since a healthy vaginal microbiota is mainly dominated by Lactobacillus species, in this context, exogenously administered probiotics containing Lactobacilli play a pivotal role in reducing the risk of UTI. The concept of artificially boosting the Lactobacilli numbers through probiotic administration has long been conceived but has been recently shown to be possible. Lactobacilli may especially be useful for women with a history of recurrent, complicated UTIs or on prolonged antibiotic use. Probiotics do not cause antibiotic resistance and may offer other health benefits due to vaginal re-colonisation with Lactobacilli.”– Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology
These findings can be beneficial since one cause of recurrent UTIs is that bad bacteria colonize the vagina and make their way into the urinary tract. That’s when they start to cause repeated infections . Specifically targeted probiotics for women can change the bacterial landscape of the vagina, and therefore have their place within the realm of UTI prevention.
The Promise of Probiotics for Women
Targeted probiotics for women are showing promise in the prevention of vaginal yeast infections as well as UTIs. With so many women suffering from either a yeast infection or UTI (or both) at some point in their lives, it is important to be aware of all methods of prevention and supplemental treatment.
Currently, the only clinically proven treatments for UTIs is antibiotics. Meanwhile, the only recommended treatment for vaginal yeast infections is antifungal medication. If your doctor prescribes you these medications, you need to take them.
For those who experience recurrent yeast infections or UTIs, it is important to take a look at options to strengthen your vaginal microbiome to prevent further infections. Even if you are currently on antibiotics or antifungals, it is still crucial to take care of your microbiome by taking probiotics
Additionally, it is important to continue the use of probiotics long after your initial treatment has ended. You need to give your new stomach bacteria time to colonize.
Microbiome Testing for Women’s Health
If you have never had a yeast infection or UTI, it is also essential to support your vaginal health through the use of probiotics to prevent disease. Many people believe that if they have not had a yeast infection or UTI that they do not need to worry about maintaining a healthy vaginal microbiome. However, as women age and hormone levels change, so does the makeup of the vaginal microbiome. This sentiment is especially true as women get closer to menopause .
Preventative treatment is always a good idea when it comes to yeast infections and UTIs, no matter what age. For women, the microbiome is not limited to the gut. The vaginal microbiome and gut biome affect one another. When we look after one, it positively affects the other. Luckily, Thryve offers personalized probiotics that specifically target you, keeping all your microbiomes healthy.
If you had a round of antibiotics or get frequent yeast infections and UTIs, consider microbiome testing. At Thryve, we can send you an at-home gut microbiome test. That way, we can determine which stomach bacteria is allowing Candida overgrowth to transpire. Furthermore, we can replenish your gut biome with beneficial intestinal flora that will keep pathogens at bay.
Click Here To View Resources
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