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Women’s health focus: probiotics
“Women’s health focus: probiotics” by Allan Bortnick, Cranial-Sacral Therapist, Master Herbalist
Maintaining a healthy feminine ecosystem is important for women’s urogenital health. Among other benefits, a healthy balance of “good” microflora can help protect against complications like bacterial vaginosis (BV). Nearly 1 in 3 women in their reproductive years will suffer from BV characterized by itching, burning, abnormal discharge, odor, or (commonly) no symptoms at all. BV may increase a woman’s susceptibility to urinary tract infections, post-surgical infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. It can also lead to complications during pregnancy, such as low birth weight and preterm delivery. Recent antibiotic use and smoking can also increase BV risk.
Not all supplemental probiotics offer specific benefits to feminine health. Normally, the vaginal environment contains many beneficial bacteria like lactobacilli that prevent overgrowth of harmful bacteria. But not all lactobacilli are effective in supporting vaginal health, as different strains vary in their ability to interfere with colonization by pathogenic organisms.
An effective combination supported by over 20 years of research. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 have demonstrated important probiotic properties in multiple clinical studies, including the ones highlighted below.
In a placebo-controlled study of 64 healthy women, culture findings at 4 weeks showed a significant increase in vaginal lactobacilli and a significant decrease in yeast and coliforms (probiotic arm compared to placebo arm). Morevoer, 40% receiving placebo developed BV during the 60-day study, compared to 0% taking the Lactobacillus combination.
In a placebo-controlled study of 59 premenopausal women, the prevalence of BV in the probiotic arm decreased from 27.6% to 3.4% in 2 months, whereas the prevalence in the placebo arm remained unchanged at 23.3%.
In a double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled study of 544 women with vaginal infections, 61.9% of women showed restored balance of vaginal microflora in 6 weeks, compared to 26.9% in the placebo arm. And 6 weeks later, 55.1% in the probiotic arm had maintained normal microflora.