Are Probiotics Beneficial for Women’s Health?
Despite their popularity, many of the benefits of probiotics slip under the radar. We naturally associate them with intestinal and immune health, in which they play the most important role, but while they do help the entire body through their activity in the intestine, there are areas of the body in which they are equally as important. This only applies for women but doesn’t mean that men shouldn’t take interest in the matter, as it seems like the bacterial flora in a woman’s body has the potential of influencing her children’s health for the entire length of their lives, no matter the gender.
Probiotics are bacteria and some strains of yeast that provide benefits for the human body. While bacteria in general is something that we’re trying to avoid at all costs, there’s no escaping it, and that’s a good thing. These unstoppable tiny microorganisms were amongst the first life forms on Earth and are found inside and on the surface of both human and animal bodies, in plants, in water, and deep into the planet’s crust. They’re highly adaptable and able to turn almost anything into their home, and often times contribute to the health of their live hosts. Our bodies are ecosystems housing billions upon billions of organisms, but the beneficial ones need certain conditions to thrive. Most of them are found in the digestive tract, where they help in digestion and fight bacteria that could affect various areas of the body, but in the case of women, a large percentage is found in the urogenital system, more specifically the genital tract and urinary bladder. And while probiotics play an extremely important role in the health of these organs and through them, the wellbeing of the entire female body, the scientific studies performed on probiotics don’t focus on their qualities in this areas as much as their general benefits. And it seems like this is the general approach when it comes to urogenital health, as many specialists are concerned about the lack of efforts invested in keeping up with the increasing number of female specific affections.
The genital tract is home to many different types of bacteria and yeast, most of them harmless as long as the balance of the ecosystem is kept. And this is the job of some species of Lactobacillus, the genera in which most of the probiotic strains are found, including those that benefit the digestive system. These strains of bacteria create lactic acid, which keeps their environment acidic and makes it difficult for the harmful species to thrive. This doesn’t mean that the harmful strains should be eliminated completely, because they do help in the body’s ability to recognize dangerous organisms and compounds, but if the probiotic numbers decrease, they’ll be free to multiply and cause infections. On top of that, given that probiotics are able to remove harmful bacteria and viruses, the genital tract will be vulnerable to contracting and allowing the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. This is why some Prague Escorts may ask you to wear a condom. Studies performed up to this point show that probiotics might actually be able to kill the HIV virus and reduce the possibility of developing the disease caused by it, so it’s hard to understand why these organisms don’t receive more attention for this amazing quality alone. You could potentially find your vaginas health increase, increasing sensitivity, pleasure and also decrease pain, making you enjoy sex like they seem to on sites like hdpornvideo.xxx and others. If you’d like to know more about STDs and other genital lady issues, consider treating about them at warts.org.
But clearly identifying the role of probiotics in different body functions is very difficult, not only because they’re an emerging field of study and we’re only just beginning to understand them, but because of their structure. Probiotics in the digestive tract and urogenital systems come from different strains, but because of the nature of bacteria, either of them can often thrive in both environments, and will migrate from one area to the other. These strains are very similar and are able to mutate by exchanging genetic material, so trying to isolate their benefits as specific to one area is not an easy feat. Probiotics naturally found in the digestive system have offered great results for the genital tract, while strains that are normally found in the human body in very low numbers seem able to help the digestive tract even if it’s not used to them. Moving from the digestive tract to the urogenital system comes easy for these organisms given how close together they’re located, and this is why, while vaginal probiotic supplement are available in the form of suppositories, a healthy colony can also be established by simply ingesting supplements in the form of capsules or probiotic foods. Treating one area will automatically help the other, so let’s have a look at what these organisms really do, and what this means for the female health in particular.
The role of probiotics in digestion
Our digestive tracts are populated with bacteria from the mouth to the other end. We carry pounds of these organisms, and while some of them are harmful, the probiotics keep them under control and assure a healthy digestive process. They participate in the process of breaking down foods and allow the absorption of healthy nutrients, while creating some essential substances on their own, right in the intestine.
Probiotics produce vitamin K, vitamin B12, folate and biotin, providing benefits that go beyond digestion. Vitamin K is essential in blood clotting, and while it’s naturally found in vegetables, lacking them in the diet will not only decrease the amount of this compound, but also the number of probiotics. Vitamin B12 for women is very important as it may prevent major birth defects in their children, it also supports bone strength and prevents osteoporosis. Friendly bacteria feeds on soluble fiber, which is also found in vegetables (and fruits), and it seems like you can’t have one without the other. Eating a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables will keep vitamin K at a healthy level both through ingestion and internal production, but those who have unhealthy habits and are not willing to change them can improve their health by simply using a probiotic supplement that also contains prebiotics. Prebiotics include both soluble and insoluble fiber, and while the first type can’t be digested and absorbed by the human body and will only feed the beneficial bacteria, the second can’t be used at all. But what is does is create a healthy environment in the intestine and help probiotics thrive, while making the entire process more comfortable for the host. Adding insoluble fiber to the diet will help in preventing constipation and similar conditions, so it’s just as important as the type that directly benefits probiotics.
Biotin is another vitamin produced by the good bacteria, and it helps in digestion by breaking down carbohydrates, fats and other compounds and contributing to their proper absorption. Lacking the proper amounts of biotin will manifest through weight loss, hair thinning and other symptoms that are signs of improper absorption of quality nutrients. And while folate and vitamin B12 don’t necessarily have a role in nutrient absorption, they’re essential for the proper development of all parts of the body. Folate will work with vitamin K in preventing blood conditions, and this only scratches the surface of what probiotics can do for health.
Beyond helping in properly digesting food and healing upsetting conditions like bloating, to which women are more prone than men, they’ll also help in the wellbeing of the host. After the brain, the largest amount of neurons are found in the digestive tract. This is why the stomach is easily disturbed by emotions and will react strongly to stimuli that don’t seem like they would be able to affect it. Stress or excitement will make us eat more or reduce our hunger completely, cause cramps, constipation and numerous other affections, and everything can be “blamed” on this system’s dependence on the brain. It uses the same neurotransmitters as our smartest organ, and will act based on the information received. But this also means that itself will influence the brain, and digestive disorders can affect us in the least expected ways, and not only because we’re uncomfortable when suffering of any affection, which will naturally bring down the mood. Neurotransmitters, chemicals that are actively involved in digestion and in information processing, will behave abnormally and the signals won’t be missed by the brain, which will react accordingly.
This is why probiotic supplements don’t only offer physical relief but also an enhancement of mood in some cases, with many users (both men and women) claiming that the entire way their bodies function has changed shortly after staring to use them. Probiotics have relieved headaches, insomnia and other disorders that at first look have nothing to do with the intestinal tract, and this is especially important for women in their reproduction years. At certain points in the menstrual cycle the female hormones wreak havoc on the normal patterns of the individual and cause the exact symptoms that probiotics seem able to help with. And in these cases, the effects could be even more potent than those described by men, because the friendly bacteria interacts with hormones directly. It seems like a healthy amount of probiotics will keep the balance between estrogen and progesterone, preventing women from dealing with disorders caused by an excess of estrogen. This means that the friendly bacteria is able to keep away not only PMS symptoms (headaches, exhaustion, bloating and irritability among others), but also much more serious affections like ovarian cysts and autoimmune diseases. But to better understand how they keep away the diseases that specifically affect women, we must first take a look at their effects over the immune system altogether.
An active part of the immune system
While probiotics will benefit the immune system by helping the body receive the nutrients needed to fight dangerous bacteria, they also help the body in differentiating between harmful and friendly strains. A decent amount of probiotics will assure that the body will know which organisms to keep and which to expel, and keep it from having negative reactions to harmless bacteria. This means that the risk of developing allergies is reduced in those with a well balanced intestinal flora, as proven through scientific studies. And it seems like probiotics are not only able to prevent allergic outbursts, but also treat them. It has been observed that administrating beneficial strains will reduce the intensity and frequency of the symptoms in individuals prone to allergies, and will be especially helpful in skin conditions. This is what leads many to believe that the friendly bacteria can help with a variety of skin issues, including acne, which is also caused by a reaction to otherwise harmless bacteria. And they might be right, because although acne can cause serious infections, probiotics seem able to also help in this cases.
Studies performed on patients suffering from diarrhea have shown that some strains of probiotics can reduce the intensity of the symptoms and even cure the disease altogether, while reducing the chances of relapse. At first thought, the positive results seem to only prove the effectiveness of probiotics over the digestive system, but what makes them support the important role of bacteria over the immune system is the fact that in some cases the disease was causes by viruses. Probiotics have treated both bacterial and viral diarrhea, which means that they’re not only efficient over similar life forms, but also against more potent threats. Bacterial diseases are much easier to cure thanks to antibiotics, but viruses are always a challenge and we’re still very much defenseless against many of them. And while their mechanism of action against viruses is still somewhat unclear, there are many ways in which probiotics protect the body from harmful bacteria.
Because they’re found across the entire digestive system, they don’t only protect the intestines, where the ingested bacteria naturally ends up, but also all the organs that are part of the digestive tract. Studies have shown that probiotics can prevent dental caries by reducing the numbers of a specific harmful bacteria naturally found in the mouth, while also being able to decrease the odds of developing respiratory conditions. They fight harmful bacteria wherever it’s located, although most of the process takes place in the intestine. This is where most of the bacteria multiplies, and enough probiotics will keep it from being able to thrive. Harmful strains need a different environment then probiotics, and if the conditions are not friendly, they’ll simply be expelled from the body. The substances secreted by probiotics will also help in removing dangerous bacteria by killing it off, while some pathogenic strains will be attracted and become attached to probiotics, which will keep them in the gut instead of allowing them to spread. And given that probiotics have only started to receive serious attention in the past years, we will probably discover many other ways in which they help.
Vaginal health and pregnancy
Millions of women worldwide are affected by urogenital tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections and sexually transmitted diseases, and studies show that probiotics might not only be able to prevent, but also heal many of these affections. Just like in the intestinal tract, friendly bacteria will make the environment unsuitable for pathogens, keeping them from spreading and developing infections. But because the vaginal flora is easily disturbed, many women are prone to infections without even being aware of it. Even otherwise healthy women can develop yeast infections and contract sexually transmitted diseases much easier than men, because almost anything can affect the healthy balance of the genital tract, from stress and unhealthy habits to sexual activity, birth control pills or becoming pregnant.
The best solution for keeping the vaginal flora in optimal health seems to be local treatment with Lactobacillus, but ingesting probiotics will also bring positive results. Even if ingested (or locally applied) probiotic supplements will not fix the problem in the long term, they will be able to establish colonies for a short period, or permanently if the treatment is not interrupted. And while it’s difficult to establish if a specific probiotic is more beneficial for the intestinal or genital tract, it seems like the Lactobacillus species will benefit both areas, with two particular strains seemingly able to provide great effects in the treatment of female specific conditions. These are L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14, and both of them adhere to the intestine, vagina and bladder cells. This prohibits harmful bacteria from having the same behavior and developing biofilms, which would make them much more difficult to remove. A biofilm is a group of organisms protected by a substance that makes them hard to access, and a serious problem in infections. Both the rhamnosus and reuteri strains produce acids that kill the pathogens, while the latter also produces hydrogen peroxide and removes the toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus, a very dangerous bacteria that can cause death when untreated. These strains of Lactobacillus are also able to kill HIV and other viruses, and are very much proof for the potency of this particular genus. Some other of the strains found in this genus are also very efficient, starting with GG, which gives great results in the treatment of vaginal infections even when ingested for digestive disorders. It seems like while a healthy gut might not automatically guarantee a healthy vagina, treating vaginal disorders by ingesting probiotics will help, although not as well as applying them locally. Many strains don’t survive the journey through the digestive tract, so in this case the supplements much be chosen carefully. And a healthy genital tract doesn’t only help women, but also their children.
While the safety of probiotic supplements during pregnancy is still under discussion, it seems like not many adverse reactions have been observed, and in the case of women with a reduced number of friendly bacteria, an intake of probiotics might be mandatory for the health of their children. Some studies have shown that children born naturally have better odds at developing a healthy immune system and avoiding allergies than those born through C-section, and it seems like these advantages are owed to the bacteria found in the genital tract, as passing through the vagina at birth assures that the child acquires the healthy bacteria hosted by their mother. And while we don’t yet have much proof for the benefits provided for the mother (although it seems like probiotics can help in preventing preeclampsia and help in losing weight after birth, among others), what we currently know about probiotics supports the effects they might have on the child.
Children are born free of bacteria, and for the developing of a healthy immune system both beneficial and harmful organisms (in the healthy amounts) must be introduced in their systems as soon as possible. The fastest the child is exposed to the microorganisms the better, because it seems like the lack of bacteria in infancy will prohibit individuals from developing a healthy flora in the future. Apparently, if the body has not become used to hosting certain strains of probiotics very early, it might never fully adapt to them and require a constant intake of extra bacteria. This, combined with the frequent use of antibiotics as a common cure for any disease, can lead to disastrous results for the immune system. Unfortunately these situations are more and more common, as children are developing in increasingly sterile environments as we’re trying to protect them from bacteria at any costs, disregarding it’s uses.
Still, taking probiotics during pregnancy should only be done with a doctor’s approval, especially if the individual suffers from a dangerous condition. These strains of bacteria will only stay friendly in a healthy organism, and will aggravate already difficult affections. This risk should not be taken by anybody, but pregnant women should be especially careful, for obvious reasons. The same goes for young children, even if various brands are developing products destined for this age group, which would appear to make them as safe as possible. It must be kept in mind that probiotics are still bacteria and have the potential to become harmful, so they shouldn’t be used based on the assumption that they’re always beneficial, no matter the health problem. If a doctor evaluates the health status of the potential user and concludes that probiotic supplementation is a good option for them (and their baby in the case of a pregnant woman), hundreds of products are available for them to choose from. But if this is not the case, they should be avoided completely even if their availability makes them look harmless.
Probiotics provide great benefits for all individuals, but they play a more important role in the health of women. Men depend on these organisms too, but even with a slight immune imbalance, they have an easier time fighting off infections than women do. Female specific affections make the situation even more complicated, and it seems like in case of women using a probiotic supplement has become almost mandatory. Still, only medical professionals are qualified to make decisions in individual cases, as they will know exactly which strain of bacteria will be most beneficial in a specific condition and how safe it is for their patient.