Could Probiotics Be an Option for Treating and Preventing Urogenital Infections?

Gregor Reid, PhD, MBA, Andrew W. Bruce, MD, FRCS

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In This Article

Concluding Remarks

While there is mounting evidence to support the use of probiotics to prevent urogenital infections, and indeed substantial data to indicate that probiotics confer health benefits to the gut,[65,66] there remains a lack of knowledge about probiotics on the part of many family physicians.[67] In Canada, this is likely due in part to the fact that no suitable therapeutic products are commercially available. With regard to what is available that has some level of scientific and/or clinical evidence to support its use, consumers and referring practitioners should look for strain numbers or names on product labels. These numbers refer to specific strains, many of which have been investigated for their health benefits (see Table 1). Some company brochures and Web sites contain references to the research, and Medline library searches can trace much of the data. A label that states Lactobacillus acidophilus, for example, tells little about the content, viability, and usefulness of the organism, and it cannot be assumed that this particular strain confers health benefits.

In an independent, third-party survey of more than 100 urologists attending the American Urological Association annual conference about 10 years ago, almost 80% of urologists stated they would offer probiotics to patients with recurrent UTIs if available (unpublished data). Clearly, the provision of good scientific and clinical data and the availability of high-quality probiotic products are critical.

There is little doubt that probiotic therapeutics will emerge as a modality for the treatment of a number of diseases. Probiotics may have a preventive role in addition to the control and treatment of infectious, inflammatory, allergic, and carcinogenic ailments.[65,68] For the many women with urogenital infections, there is relief in sight.

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