Menopause brings with it many bodily changes. It can be challenging for some women to navigate through these symptoms and the various ways they can be managed. Fortunately, recent studies have shown that probiotics - friendly bacteria - can be a significant support in dealing with the inevitable Change of Life. Let’s look at the relationship between the gut microbiome and menopause.
Menopause is marked by a drop in estrogen levels which brings about a drop in Lactobacilli bacteria, which in turn, results in a disturbance of the vaginal microbiome. This change makes menopausal women more prone to vaginal infections and vaginal atrophy. Other symptoms related to menopause are dryness, painful urination, burning, itching, weak bladder control and bone loss.
The Lactobacillus family of bacteria is the most commonly occurring one in the human body. Lactobacillus acidophilus is the species that makes up most of the healthy flora in the vaginal microbiome, while Lactobacillus rhamnosus was linked to increased levels of antimicrobial defenses. Meanwhile, women who took Lactobacillus helveticus (in the form of a fermented milk drink) demonstrated increased calcium levels and bone reabsorption.
While there are probiotic vaginal inserts in the market, studies of probiotics taken orally for vaginal health are also promising and have shown that women taking a probiotic containing specific strains of lactobacilli strains were more likely to have a lactobacilli-dominated, normal vaginal microbiome compared to women who took no probiotics at all.
It’s important to note that probiotics are very strain specific. They all carry out different jobs within the human body. Be sure to choose a probiotic that contains the strains you need for your specific issue or condition. As always, consult your healthcare provider before introducing any new supplements to your regimen.