Probiotics for Women’s Health

Most of the time when I am discussing probiotics with my patients, we are talking about them in connection with their many benefits for gut health. While the formulas I recommend for gut health will often also benefit urogenital health, emerging research is showing that different organisms work better for different parts of our bodies. Some beneficial bacteria are best at colonizing the small intestines, but we should chose different ones for the mouth, colon or urogenital tract. It can even come down to a particular strain of beneficial bacteria. For instance, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (sold as Culturelle) has been shown to grow very well in the small intestines, but a very closely related strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 is superior in many recent studies for colonizing the vaginal mucosa, even when taken orally. Most of these studies are using a formula that also contains Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14.

This probiotic combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 is featured in several recent studies on improving urogenital health in women. For instance, postmenopausal women who had been suffering from recurrent urinary tract infections took daily either a prophylactic antibiotic or these two beneficial bacteria. At the end of a year, the rate of infections had been reduced by half in both groups, demonstrating that the probiotics were just as effective as the preventative antibiotic. In a study on women with Candida infections, all women took an antifungal medication, but half of the women were given this probiotic duo and the other half received a placebo. Of the women taking the beneficial bacteria, 90% had a complete elimination of symptoms compared to 62% in the women who got the placebo pills. This increased success rate is due to the ability of these particular strains to out competing the bad organisms, partially by producing growth inhibitors against pathogenic organisms like Candida.

Published by drlaurell

Laurell Matthews, ND is a naturopathic doctor with a passion for helping people understand how to be healthier using dietary and lifestyle changes along with other natural medicine modalities like botanical medicine.

5 thoughts on “Probiotics for Women’s Health

  1. Dr. Matthews,

    I was in this afternoon & wanted to see which probiotic you’d recommend.  Could you advise me, please?



  2. Dr. Laurell,

    Read this again & I’d like to know specifically what would be best for the mouth. Does ONF  have it? Appreciate it.



    1. If you are looking for the organisms I mentioned in this blog, Jarrow has a good product called Fem-dophilus. I like nearly everything Jarrow makes. And yes, Ozark Natural Foods carries a probiotic mint that has strain that have been shown to be beneficial for the teeth.

  3. Dr. Matthews. I was surprised to find a fellow Northwestern Arkansan while doing research on what I can do for my reoccurring UTIs. I am on my 5th antibiotic in the past 6 weeks and 3rd UTI during that time. I am hoping this antibiotic wipes it out and I can start clean and with probiotics to help. I was wondering if Culturelle was a good start along with vitamin C, Cranberry juice. I have also read that Saccharomyces Boulardii and Bacillus Coagulans were beneficial. Should I take all of these with my sulfa antibiotic or wait until the round is over and is this overkill? I am new to the whole probiotics thing. Thank you

    1. Hello,
      I generally start probiotics while still on antibiotics, but at a different time of the day. For instance, take probiotics right before bed. Culturelle is probably okay but a product like Jarrow’s Fem-dophilus has more targeted organisms.
      If this doesn’t do it, go see my former partner Dr. Tara Hickman at Northwest Arkansas Natural Health.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: