Do probiotics have a role in women's health?
Recent research seems to indicate that probiotics play an important role in osteoporosis, general bone health and vaginal health too.
Osteoporosis and Bone Health
Osteoporosis appears to affect women much more than men.
This is brought about by hormonal changes during and before menopause. So usually women will generally begin to feel the effects of menopause around the age of 40 to 50 onwards.
Other causes of osteoporosis are a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, smoking and certain medical conditions.
Some treatment regimens available are drugs, hormone replacement therapy and some lifestyle changes.
A new research among women 75 to 80 years with low bone mineral density who took Lactobacillus reuteri, 2x daily, showed reduced bone loss after 1 year.
Although these are early results they are promising and the researchers are still not sure how the probiotics effects the bone.
Yet another study is being conducted among women aged 50 - 65 years. They will be followed up for 1 year as well. The researchers involved in this study had earlier conducted such studies on mice who were menopausal and their discovery is that probiotics work by preventing immune cells in sending signals to the body to break down bone.
What is very clear is that probiotics have an effect on our gut bacteria.
However, not many people are aware that probiotics also have a good effect on the bacteria found in the vagina. Having an increased amount of good bacteria in the vagina helps reduce urinary tract infections.
The vaginal microbiome is a protective mechanism against cervical cancer, bladder infections and sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
The healthy vaginal bacteria are the Lactobacillus. They produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide to prevent yeast growth and stimulate healthy cervical mucus.
The amount of Lactobacillus can be disrupted by your period, vaginal wipes, stress and sex.
Supplementing with Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus will improve vaginal health. Acidophilus strains are also helpful.
You can take these probiotics either orally or inserted into the vagina. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.