Among the many hundreds of enquiries that I get each month from people struggling with their digestive and gut health, I receive just as many from women with urinary, bladder and vaginal health issues. You see, it’s not just the gut that needs a good balance of friendly bacteria, but those bacteria play an equally crucial role in the urinary system and vagina too!
I hear from lots of women with recurring UTIs like cystitis, as well as BV and thrush. When it comes to UTIs, these often occur when pathogens, usually E.coli, from the rectum find their way into the bladder via the urethra. In severe cases, the infection can reach the kidneys. I think what many women fail to realise is that the E.coli bacteria can move, they are not stationary organisms, and they can migrate from the rectum along the perineum and up the urethra into the bladder, increasing the risk of developing a UTI. One sure-fire way of helping the E.coli to do this is through sexual intercourse as the E.coli gets pushed up the urethra by the penis.
Any woman who suffers with regular UTIs, thrush, or BV should be taking a strain-specific probiotic supplement and by that, I mean a supplement that contains friendly species of bacteria known to help reduce such symptoms and to help crowd out pathogenic bacteria in the urinary system, as well as crowd out thrush-causing yeasts in the vagina.
Probiotics encourage more friendly bacteria to grow and help prevent pathogens from colonising in the urinary tract and causing issues like cystitis, which was what Lucy was struggling with until she started taking my For Women probiotic capsules.
Antibiotics wipe out both friendly and unfriendly bacteria, but unfortunately, the unfriendly ones tend to be more resistant to antibiotics, so can proliferate and recolonise more easily, which is most likely what was happening in Lucy’s case.
I write more about how antibiotics can lead to recurring UTIs in this blog post.
The over-use of antibiotics in modern medicine means that pathogenic, disease-causing bacteria have adapted and are more able to resist the effect of antibiotics. This is why it’s important not to use antibiotics unless truly necessary – otherwise, they might stop working for serious infections. Here is a very informative article from the World Health Organization on the danger we face with antibiotic resistance.
While the antibiotics worked well at killing the pathogens that cause conditions like Lucy’s cystitis, they would have also disrupted the delicate balance of bacteria in her gut, bladder, and vagina by destroying the friendly bacteria at the same time.
Now that Lucy is on a regular protocol of taking my For Women probiotics, they should help to prevent cystitis from occurring any further and, thus, remove the need for antibiotics. However, it’s not just Lucy’s cystitis that the probiotics will help with – probiotics can also help strengthen the immune system, making it more resilient and better able to fight any infection in her body, including the bladder. Women who have weakened immune systems are prone to more infections and it’s the reason I also recommend probiotics to anyone who gets infections, whether they be UTIs, chest infections, skin infections, colds, flu etc.
So, it stands to reason that taking the right probiotics will help to raise our numbers of friendly bacteria, so that they win out over pathogens that could be lurking in these intimate areas.
Research has found that certain strains of probiotics can be taken orally and survive through the digestive tract until they reach the vagina and bladder. Rather than destroying all bacteria in their path, when these probiotics reach the urogenital tract, they simply do their job and multiply! So, there is less room for bad bacteria to grow and cause trouble, and fewer chances of throwing off the delicate balance of microflora.
My For Women capsules contain two strains of bacteria, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and L. reuteri, which have featured in many clinical trials focusing on women with cystitis. One clinical trial involved 252 women who experienced recurrent UTIs. Over the course of 12 months, these women took a combination of the above probiotics, and these were found to be equally as effective as antibiotic treatment for cystitis, without the potential side effects. I also added Lactobacillus acidophilus to my For Women capsules and extra vitamin C for improved immune protection.
Read more about the research on the strains of bacteria here.
If you have any questions about a digestive, gut, urinary or bladder health issue, please get in touch.