FAQ: Do Probiotics Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?
The human condition is fraught with potential issues arising from health complications. As our lifespans have extended over the years due to advances in modern medicine, newer issues have risen to prominence since we have a higher chance of experiencing them. Some health issues are minor and can be resolved with minimal effort, whereas others are more serious and require medical attention.
Unfortunately, some of the most intrusive health complications are very common and can occur when we least expect them. When these common issues occur, they can be unpleasant and uncomfortable as we try to recover. The most frustrating of these conditions are those that affect body parts we use daily, most notably the urinary tract.
Urinary tract infections are a startingly common and highly unpleasant issue in modern society. The commonality of this issue has turned it into a menace in modern medicine that people strive to avoid through any means necessary. Fortunately, some options enable us to combat urinary tract infections and promote a healthier body. The problem is that these techniques are not widely known and might be unfamiliar.
One of the questions being asked about urinary tract infections is whether probiotics can help prevent them from manifesting. Given the rising popularity of probiotics in modern society, it is unsurprising that people are looking into the full extent of their capabilities. Whether probiotics can prevent UTIs has yet to be determined.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
While you have almost certainly heard of a urinary tract infection, you might have never experienced one or learned how they manifest. While there is no shame in the latter, it is worth learning more about them to understand the full risk. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is, as the name implies, an infection that affects a fairly sensitive body part. Despite the name, a UTI affects more than just the urethra.
A UTI can affect any part of the network of organs that contributes to healthy urination. This means a UTI can affect the kidneys, ureter, bladder, and urethra or any combination thereof. Generally, UTIs affect the lower urinary tract but can affect other parts of the tract, depending on where the contamination originated.
UTIs are bacterial infections, meaning a microorganism is usually responsible for the condition's manifestation. UTIs typically occur because the bacteria enter the urethra and spread through the rest of the urinary tract, causing an infection. Ordinarily, our urinary tracts are capable of repelling bacterial infections and keeping our bodies safe.
Unfortunately, human biology is far from perfect, and these defenses can fail while the bacteria spreads. UTIs are most common in women, whereas men have a significantly lower risk of UTIs. This is not to say men should not be wary of UTIs, but that they have a slight advantage compared to women.
Despite the rates of UTIs being lower in men, the overall symptoms are almost universal regardless of sex, save for a few exceptions. Recognizing the signs of a UTI is extremely important to ensure you can treat the infection properly. These symptoms include:
- An incessant urge to urinate despite having an empty bladder.
- A burning sensation while urinating.
- Excessive urination. These sessions usually result in small quantities of urine each session.
- Cloudy urine.
- Urine with a red, bright pink, or cola coloration. (These are signs of blood in the urine.)
- Extremely pungent urine.
- Pelvic pain, particularly in the center of the pelvis and around the pubic bone. (This symptom appears to be exclusive to women.)
Having one or more of the above symptoms could indicate an active UTI, though you will likely need confirmation from a medical professional. Otherwise, you might mistreat a more serious condition for a UTI and allow the real issue to go unattended. This could lead to serious consequences that are worse than the initial condition. This is not to say that a UTI cannot have serious consequences either, since an untreated UTI can cause health complications. These complications include:
- Chronic repeat infections. This means contracting another UTI within 6 months of the original or developing at least 3 within the same year. Once again, women are more susceptible to repeat infections.
- Permanent kidney damage due to a kidney infection.
- Pregnancy complications such as premature labor or an underweight child.
- A narrowed urethra. This complication is one of the few aspects of UTIs exclusive to men rather than women.
- Developing sepsis, which is a life-threatening infection that causes decay within the body. This risk is most prevalent with UTIs that travel up to the kidney.
The risks associated with a UTI are not something we can ignore, and treating a UTI can be fairly unpleasant. Despite that, there are options for people suffering from UTIs to fully recover from their infections since UTIs are almost always harmless when addressed. Nevertheless, some want to prevent them altogether, so they do not have to worry about the consequences of a UTI. This desire to prevent rather than treat leads us to the question that brought you to this article.
Can Probiotics Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?
Probiotics are an increasingly common addition to households worldwide due to their abundant health benefits. Probiotics are so popular that people have begun investigating the full extent of what they can treat. Probiotics have developed a great reputation for their benefits, though their effects on a UTI might be a point of contention for some people. There is concern about using probiotics to treat a UTI because bacterial microorganisms fuel probiotics.
As similar microorganisms cause UTIs, there is a misconception that a probiotic would make the infection more likely than prevent it. Fortunately, this fear is unfounded and part of a minority group since the bacteria used in probiotics are beneficial.
There is a common misconception that bacteria are always harmful since they are responsible for so many infections and illnesses. These individuals overlook that we require certain bacteria to maintain a healthy body. Most of the bacteria we require are kept in our gastrointestinal tract and help stabilize an otherwise hostile biome within human physiology. While beneficial, these bacteria have very niche roles that we do not often consider since they usually occur in the background.
Nevertheless, the bacteria used in probiotic supplements provide benefits that complement the bacteria naturally found in the body. This means the average probiotic microorganism synergizes with the bacteria we need and opposes the bacteria we do not.
Because probiotics can reinforce human biology, it is unsurprising that people who trust the product want to know if they can protect against UTIs. The good news is that evidence suggests that probiotics can inhibit the development of UTIs. The bad news is that the current studies have only discovered benefits for women, whereas little evidence supports probiotic protection for men. While this is disappointing, it is understandable that the studies might prioritize women over men since the former are more susceptible. While later research might discover benefits for men, the research proving benefits for women is extremely promising.
A meta-analysis was published that focused on 5 separate studies that consisted of 294 patients combined. The test groups of these studies focused on vaginally administered Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria. Multiple strains of Lactobacillus bacteria were used throughout the studies and applied to the women in the test groups of each. The studies focused on determining probiotic organisms' efficacy in counteracting UTIs. The results were extremely promising, though specific traits contributed to them.
The studies found that L. crispatus CTV-05 or a combination of L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. fermentum B-54 were the most effective at reducing UTI risk. These particular strains, and the overall genus of Lactobacillus, are among the most popular probiotic organisms because they have been linked to the largest health benefits. Other studies subjected to systematic reviews and meta-analyses further corroborated the link between probiotic use and UTI prevention. Most of these studies used the same genus and strains of probiotic organisms, reinforcing their ability to minimize the risk of UTIs in women.
It is worth noting that using probiotics to prevent UTIs is not a foolproof choice since UTI prevention is as much about lifestyle as it is supplementation. Probiotics can give women a powerful advantage, but UTIs will remain a constant threat if you do not take the proper precautions. Fortunately, the lifestyle changes needed to minimize the odds of a UTI are simple and unintrusive.
How to Naturally Protect Against UTIs
While probiotics are highly effective tools and can offer women extra protection against UTIs, men lack this luxury. Women should take as many precautions as possible to ensure the probiotics are not carrying their entire immune system. Doctors recommend several techniques and lifestyle changes to minimize the odds of UTIs. These changes could either be simple to implement or a radical change from what you are used to doing. However, we are certain you will find all of them firmly planted in the former camp.
The main recommendations to combat UTIs without probiotics include the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids, primarily water. Water dilutes urine, increasing the frequency of your trips to the bathroom and the amount of bacteria you purge. If you need a little extra kick, consider adding cranberry juice to your diet. While the taste might take getting used to, cranberry juice has been cited as a holistic tool for preventing UTIs.
- Be sure to empty your bladder immediately after sex. Sexual intercourse exposes your genitals to the elements, including bacteria. Urinating after sex helps wash away contaminants that might have latched on during intimacy. Drinking a full glass of water beforehand is recommended to increase the bacterial purge.
- Choose your birth control carefully. While birth control tools are common with couples looking to avoid unwanted pregnancy or exposure to a sexually transmitted infection, a few pose risks. Diaphragms, unlubricated condoms, and condoms with spermicide can promote bacterial growth and increase the risk of UTIs.
- Ensure you wipe from front to back instead of back to front. While we do not doubt that you know how to wipe, some people alternate directions out of convenience or to get the most out of a sheet of toilet paper. Unfortunately, this could inadvertently transfer bacteria from the anus or vagina to the urethra and generate a UTI.
These lifestyle changes are not overly complicated and will likely present little trouble to implement in your daily routine. We only feel the need to reinforce these tactics since probiotic use is thus far only beneficial for women insofar as UTIs are concerned. Regardless, introducing a probiotic could be a very important addition to your daily routine. The evidence affirming the effects of Lactobacillus probiotics means the only question left to answer is where you can acquire a reliable probiotic.
Finding the Right Blend
Despite being over a century old, probiotics are a growing sensation in modern society. Despite the recent resurgence of probiotics, we are still discovering the extent of their effects. The benefits probiotics offer against urinary tract infections are one of the more recently discovered effects of probiotics. This is an especially impressive advancement since the original discovery of probiotic benefits was based on peasants who ate yogurt having longer lifespans. Nevertheless, probiotics can effectively minimize the risk of UTIs in women worldwide, though men must employ more traditional methods. However, more evidence might be found that uncovers benefits for men too.
We at Teami fully endorse using probiotics, and science seems to agree. We also maintain that natural products are superior for mundane health and cosmetic issues. We have dedicated our business to providing natural supplements to address both issues through several mediums. Our product list includes our Gut Love Probiotic + Prebiotic Powder, which provides a daily dose of probiotics for any potential issue. Our probiotics are carefully produced to ensure only natural ingredients are present, and purity is maintained. We encourage you to visit our website, assess our products personally, and see if they appeal to your needs. After all, finding the right blend is a Teami effort.
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