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MedGenMed. 2004 Mar 29;6(1):49.

The rationale for probiotics in female urogenital healthcare.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and Surgery, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

Urogenital infections are a major reason that women visit their family physician and are referred to gastroenterology, gynecology, urology, and infectious disease specialists. The association between abnormal vaginal microbiota and increased risk for sexually transmitted infections, bladder and vaginal infections per se, and a higher rate of preterm labor indicate the need to better understand and manage urogenital health. The concept of probiotics arose from the realization that humans are inhabited with microbes from birth and that these organisms play a role in preventing disease. Defined as "live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host," probiotic strains have already been shown to effectively prevent diarrhea and to hold potential in preventing and treating tonsillitis, caries, renal calculi, and respiratory infections. This review provides a rationale for the use of probiotics in maintaining female vaginal and bladder health and as a treatment option for recurrent bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infection, yeast vaginitis, and sexually transmitted infections. We consider only probiotic strains that fulfill the United Nations/World Health Organization Guidelines for Probiotics in being fully characterized and clinically documented through scientific investigations describing known or presumed mechanisms of action. Although medical practitioners as yet are unable to access these probiotic strains, an awareness of recent and ongoing research for probiotics is important, as results are encouraging. The concept of probiotic therapy is familiar to many consumers and although it has historically lacked credibility in the medical community, perceptions are changing.

PMID:
15208560
PMCID:
PMC1140735
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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