"It is essential to replenish the good bacteria that have been lost"
For many women, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a highly unpleasant and all too familiar experience. Once affected by their first UTI, a person tends to become more susceptible to repeat infections. Recurrence is particularly likely in those with a history of antibiotic use since these drugs target both the bad and beneficial microorganisms in our bodies. When beneficial bacteria are killed off, they are no longer available to help protect our tissues from invasion of pathogenic bacteria, thus increasing the chances for future infection. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics also leads to the development of drug resistance, whereby the most vicious and problematic bad bacteria manage to survive and can become difficult to control. Curious how the very drugs so commonly relied on to treat infections are predisposing us to recurrent infections!
So what can be done about this?
In the case of UTIs, one solution is to replete the tissues in women who get UTIs with beneficial bacteria. A double-blind-placebo-controlled trial published in Clinical Infectious Diseases confirmed that hydrogen peroxide-producing vaginal probiotics (aka beneficial bacteria) can be used to prevent recurrent UTIs in premenopausal women. Participants in the study included 100 young women who had been prescribed antibiotics for acute UTI. All women had a history of recurrent UTIs and were randomly placed in one of two groups, either to receive Lactin-V (intravaginal probiotic suppository containing Lactobacillus crispatus) or placebo. The Lactin-V or placebo were given once daily for 5 days, then once per week for 10 weeks. Urine cultures and vaginal swabs were taken as part of follow-up after 1 and 10 weeks, respectively.
Results of this study found that out of the women receiving Lactin-V, only 15% experienced recurrent UTI, but 27% of the women receiving placebo had recurrent UTI. In the Lactin-V group, significant decline in repeat UTI was found to correlate with a high-level vaginal colonization with Lactobacillus crispatus. Lactin-V proved to be effective in reducing UTI recurrence in women treated with antibiotics.
As helpful as antibiotic drugs may be in certain situations, they do carry risks and should always be used with care. When they are used, it is essential to replenish the good bacteria that have been lost. This study provides evidence that repleting the vaginal flora with probiotics after antibiotic treatment can be very helpful for prevention of repeat urinary tract infections.
Dr. Shana McQueen