Probiotics are good bacteria for humans because of their beneficial roles in different aspects of our bodily functions. They have been increasingly popular among the general public due to their potential health advantages for several decades.
Main Functions of Probiotics
Since most probiotics are taken by mouth, they reach our stomach and gut and start to function there. Their main function is to maintain gut health by regulating gut microbiota. They have proven benefits in Clostridium difficile-related diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and infant colic.
Since there are several immune cells in the gut, a balanced gut microbiome with good bacteria helps to enhance immune function. Any disturbance in gut microbiome balance might allow harmful bacteria to enter the body through the gut.
Specific Roles for Women
Preventing and Treating Vaginal Infections
Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium play an important role in maintaining healthy vaginal microbiota. They help to create an acidic environment that discourages the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. As a result, they markedly reduced the risk of vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis and vaginal candidiasis.
Important Roles in Pregnancy
Fertilization and well-being of the fetus
Healthy vaginal microbiota creates a perfect condition to live for the baby in the mother’s womb. Since probiotics help to maintain friendly vaginal bacteria and hence prevent infections, they facilitate successful fertilization and maintain the well-being of your baby throughout the pregnancy.
Very first friendly bacteria for the babies
On top of that, studies suggest that a healthy vaginal microbiome is important for babies because babies’ very first gut microbiomes that are responsible for the immune function of the infants are seeded to them as they are passed through the birth canal at the time of giving birth.
Urinary Tract Health
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are much more common in women than men due to the unique anatomical structure of the pelvic organs. This increases the chance of cross-contaminating the vagina with gut bacteria like E.coli.
As mentioned above, by maintaining acidic vaginal pH, they inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and reduce the recurrence of UTIs.
Studies have proved that taking a probiotic suppository can effectively clear infections and rebalance the vaginal microbiome. It might be particularly useful after a course of oral or IV antibiotics, as these can often lead to an imbalance in vaginal microbiota.
Mood and Anxiety
Regulating Stress Hormones
Women use to have mood-related problems due to their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause as a result of hormonal changes.
Studies have stated that probiotics can support good mental health by regulating stress-related hormones like serotonin, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and cortisol, thereby alleviating stress levels and mental symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
Gut bacteria can also mimic the hormones released by our body and then they communicate with our brains through the vagus nerve, making them integral in the monitoring of mood. This connection is called the gut-brain axis.
What you should consider before taking probiotics?
Consult with a health professional
It is Okay to do some research and take the probiotics that suit you, particularly if you are healthy and do not have underlying medical conditions.
However, it is advisable to consult a health professional before taking probiotic supplements so that he or she might provide you with guidance regarding specific strains of probiotics depending on your concerns and underlying health status.
Not a substitute for your specific disease
Although probiotics have potential health benefits for several conditions as mentioned above, they should not be applied as a “sole” treatment for the disease condition. Rather, they may be really useful if being used as an adjunct or an add-on treatment to disease-specific medications.
Now, I believe you have realized how probiotics are beneficial for women and what they mainly do in your body. Their roles are really convincing both for you and your (future) infant’s health. So, if you are a girl or a woman, I would like to encourage you to take probiotics as part of your diet or as supplements to have better well-being for the present and years to come.