The Importance of Probiotics For Women
The concept of probiotics and its beneficial role in health and disease was introduced in the early 20th century and has gained significant importance over past two decades.
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that provide individuals with health benefits, it administered in adequate amounts. Also known as ‘good bacteria,’ probiotics plays a major role in the regulation of the body’s metabolic functioning and to some extent, immune conditioning.
The use of probi0tics has been seen to modify responses to a variable extent in gastrointestinal conditions. including inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s. disease and ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel and other chronic illnesses.
Probiotics For Genitourinary Infections
Probiotics has a specific role in the management of genitourinary infections, especially in women. The human digestive tract contains the majority of the microbial flora of the body, almost up to 500 to 1000 bacterial species of commensals – predominantly belonging to the Lactobacillus species. Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides. The microbial flora in the normal vaginal mucosa is lesser in number, mainly comprising of the Lactobacillus species.
Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycles, the vaginal pH, use of local spermicidal creams, the perimenopause period and vaginal dryness all affect the normal vaginal flora. Although other bacteria in the genitourinary tract are commonly labelled as commensals, in women, when they gain entry into the urinary tract due to the shorter length of the urethra, they have a tendency to become pathogenic strains and cause infections.
The common genitourinary infections include vaginitis including both fungal and bacterial and lower urinary tract infections including cystitis. Commonly, both cystitis, and vaginitis are seen occurring together and can lead to intense local irritation and white discharge, painful urination, increased frequency, urgency and sometimes dribbling of urine.
Studies have shown an increased incidence of urinary tract infections noted to be associated with an altered vaginal microbial environment and the normal vaginal bacterial load was found to be significantly reduced in patients with recurrent urinary tract infections.
Lowering Antibiotic Treatment Using Probiotics
The treatment of most urinary tract infections involves identifying the causative organisms and treatment with antibiotics, With recurrent infections. especially in diabetic patients, the risk of infection involving the kidneys is always worrying with present day scenario of resistant and even multi drug resistant strains of bacteria. of probi0tics as an add-on therapy could limit on antibiotics.
However, these probi0tics need to be continued for a period of time for effective colonisation and for the beneficial effect to be seen. Further research into the beneficial effects of probiotics in genitourinary conditions with particular emphasis on long-term safety profile of these drugs appears to be promising and should greatly help tackle the commonly encountered problem of urinary infections.