Most women know the pain and irritation associated with a bladder infection. It hurts to urinate, or you feel like you have to go and nothing comes out. You might have pressure in your lower belly and up into your back. While some of you try to keep it under control with water and unsweetened cranberry juice, many end up taking an antibiotic to get rid of the infection.
What happens if this is a common problem for you? Just when you feel like you’re over it, those painful twinges return and you find yourself on another medication. Recent research from the May, 2011 Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal found a helpful option – vaginal suppositories of the probiotic strain Lactobacillus crispus reduced the risk for recurrent bladder infections.
You’re probably familiar with the idea of probiotics. They are the "good gut bugs" in foods like yogurt that help your intestines to fight infections and keep you regular. Did you know that probiotics also help the good bacteria in your vagina too? That is why eating yogurt or taking a probiotic supplement can prevent yeast infections while you are on antibiotics.
Different lactobacillus strains are commonly found in both your intestines and vagina. For those of you with a dairy or lactose problem, finding a good quality dairy-free probiotic supplement with at least 10 billion active cultures can be helpful. Check the packaging of your probiotic to make sure it does not have added dyes and food colorings or unnecessary binders and fillers. Your intestines, bladder, and vagina don’t need these for balance. Be careful with yogurts as they are often sweetened with corn syrup and contain high amounts of sugar that can worsen irritable bowel or yeast infections.
While there aren’t many vaginal probiotic suppositories on the market, talk with your health care provider about options and take a supplement orally. Hopefully with more research like this coming out, there will be more natural options for women in the future.
1. Stapelton A, et al. Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Phase 2 Trial of a Lactobacillus crispatus Probiotic Given Intravaginally for Prevention of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection. Clin Infect Dis. (2011) 52 (10): 1212-1217.
2. Verna E, Lucak S. Use of Probiotics in Gastrointestinal Disorders. Gastroenterol. 2010;3(5):307-319.