Appreciation for the role probiotic bacteria play in promoting good health has reached the mainstream, and now more people than ever before are taking notice. Whether they’re reaching for yogurt or kombucha or popping a probiotic supplement, it’s almost basic knowledge that probiotics offer a huge health benefit. Not only are probiotics helpful for easing digestive upsets, research shows these beneficial microbes may also support immunity, mood, vaginal health, and urinary health. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation are also two concerning issues that may be helped with probiotic supplementation.
Women, IBS, and Constipation
Women are more susceptible to developing constipation and IBS, yet many don’t seek the quality care they need. Fortunately, drugs and other medical interventions may not be necessary in cases of constipation and mild to moderate IBS. Both conditions have seen an excellent response to the use of probiotic therapy. According to one study, all 20 IBS patients who received one probiotic strain, Lactobacillus plantarum, reported resolution of their abdominal pain.  This study also showed an improvement in stool frequency for patients suffering from constipation. In addition, the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis contributed to the easing of constipation symptoms in another study. 
Probiotics for Healthy Feminine Flora
Probiotics have benefits for everyone, but for women, the benefits may extend to controlling common feminine issues. Beneficial microbes help keep the vaginal area somewhat acidic, creating a hostile environment to infectious bacteria. Also, an imbalance of beneficial flora and pH levels are conducive for yeasts to infect and grow. This is why it’s so crucial for women to consume probiotics on a regular basis while eating an alkaline diet. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bacterial vaginosis (vaginitis) are also commonly associated with a deficiency in positive gut flora. 
Many of the conventional approaches to UTIs use antibiotics, but this route is becoming more problematic with the dramatic rise in antibiotic resistance.  So, while antibiotics may provide short-term benefit, their long-term effect remains debatable. Probiotics actually promote the growth of beneficial bacteria that fights the bad, compared with antibiotics which kill all bacteria (including the good guys). Vaginitis is also an irritating condition that results in unpleasant discharge and and itching. Fortunately, probiotics have also shown promise in approaching this condition by fighting the main causative bacteria, Gardnerella vaginalis.
Probiotic Strains that Support Women’s Health
According to the latest research, there are specific strains that may be helpful for fighting vaginitis, UTIs, and IBS. Research suggests some strains of Lactobacillus inhibit Gardnerella vaginalis from adhering to vaginal epithelium.  It appears that loss of vaginal lactobacilli is a major component in the development of changes contributing to bacterial vaginosis, making probiotic supplementation crucial.  As previously mentioned, L. plantarum may help women with irritable bowel symptoms; however, most probiotic strains show benefit for this condition. With UTIs, the strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri appear to be the most effective at reducing risk. 
What Is the Best Probiotic for Women?
There are different types of probiotic supplement options for women, from vaginal suppository to dietary supplements. A suppository supplement works by inserting the probiotic into the vaginal cavity at the first sign of issues. This is supposed to restore bacterial balance within the vagina while fighting harmful microbes that cause yeast infections, UTIs, and general vaginitis. A dietary supplement is less invasive and only requires swallowing one or two small capsules. This method allows for proliferation of billions of viable bacteria to populate both the intestines and other areas of the body. Because of its wide range of proliferation, this may be the preferred method for providing a larger health benefit.
Why Probiotics Matter
Probiotics support healthy vaginal environment and urinary tract environment. Without an appropriate bacterial balance, vaginal health is threatened by a wide range of harmful invaders. One way to ensure the correct quantity and quality of beneficial bacteria your body has at all times is to take a probiotic supplement, particularly one that contains a number of different beneficial bacteria strains. Floratrex™ is one that I highly recommend, especially to women.
Have you taken a probiotic supplement to support feminine health? We’d love to hear of your experiences in the comments!
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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