This month is directed to the female readers, but the men are also invited to read it.

I am often asked about the benefits of probiotics in preventing recurrent vaginal and urinary tract infections.  It is well known that the lactobacillus organisms are the major bacteria populating the vaginal lining cells (mucosa) and it’s these organisms that act as a barrier to prevent infections.

Scientific investigations have proven that female urinary tract infections result due to bacteria arising from the intestinal tract.  These bacteria spread to the vagina, then enter and infect the urinary bladder.

Research studies have discovered how lactobacilli can enhance the immune system against infections; Different strains of lactobacilli have specific benefits.

For instance, certain strains can produce bacterocins, antibiotics against specific infectious organisms.  Other lactobacilli produce a biofilm that prevents infectious bacteria from adhering and colonizing the lining cells.  Additionally, some lactobacilli produce hydrogen peroxide, which is bacterocidal to many of the pathogenic bacteria. It’s these mechanism and others that have been shown to be important in maintaining the health of the female urogenital tract.

Women have known for decades that yogurt may help prevent vaginal yeast infections. The normal vaginal mucosa is colonized by Lactobacillus acidophilus which is in some yogurts.  This bacteria is able to form lactic acid which lowers the pH and prevents the growth of Candida albicans.  Unfortunately, taking antibiotics can kill Lactobacillus acidophilus and allow for the development of a vaginal yeast infection.

Candida is always present in low numbers within the intestinal tract and is ready to populate when given the opportunity.  When antibiotics are taken, the good bacteria are reduced and the fungus can grow and spread.

There have been a number of studies and reviews on the benefits of taking probiotics containing different strains of lactobacillus bacteria.  When the appropriate strains have been given, the recurrence rate of urinary tract infections has decreased.1

In addition, oral probiotics have been shown to lessen vaginal yeast infections.2

Thanks for your interest in EndoMune.

Eat healthy and live well!

LawrenceJ Hoberman MD

(1) Probiotics for prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections in women: a review of the evidence from microbiological and clinical studies.- Falagas ME – Drugs – 01-JAN-2006; 66(9): 1253-61

(2) Probiotics for the prevention of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: a review.  Falagas ME – J Antimicrob Chemother – 01-AUG-2006; 58(2): 266-72

Take Home Message

If you are prone to recurrent urinary tract infections or vaginal yeast infections, consider taking a probiotic that contains several strains of lactobacillus, including Lactobacillus acidophilus….like EndoMune.  Also, don’t forget to take a probiotic when prescribed an antibiotic.