Mercy Urogynecologist Dr. R. Mark Ellerkmann Discusses Role Probiotics Can Play in Preventing Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Urinary tract infections or UTIs are one of the most common bacterial infections in women.
For some women, UTIs are a frequent problem traditionally treated with antibiotics. But now doctors are turning to probiotics to prevent them.
Among those trying that approach is Debbie Thomas. She follows follows a healthy lifestyle, but ever since menopause she's been plagued with recurrent UTIs.
“It got to the point where it's probably monthly,” Thomas said. “They were thinking maybe it wasn't going away, they'd keep me on a regime of nonstop antibiotics for six to eight weeks at a high dose to see if it would knock it out and it would come back just as frequently as before.”
According to Mercy urogynecologist Dr. R. Mark Ellerkmann, antibiotics are traditionally used to treat urinary tract infections, including recurrent ones. But studies now show probiotics can help prevent UTIs by keeping bad bacteria in the vagina from getting into the urinary tract.
“The vagina is an area, an environment, with lots of different bacteria, lots of different yeasts,” Dr. Ellerkman said. “Some of these are good, some of these are bad. So probiotics are thought to be some of the good bacteria that can be helpful in preventing the bad bacteria from taking over.”
Probiotics can be taken orally in capsules, in powdered form like D-mannose, and through a vaginal suppository, helping many women like Thomas get off a maintenance regimen of antibiotics.
“Sometimes that will breed resistance and also there's a cost associated with continued use of antibiotics,” Dr. Ellerkman said.
For Thomas, the probiotic D-mannose has made a difference and she is now getting fewer UTIs. She has gone from having a UTI monthly to about quarterly.
View Dr. R. Mark Ellerkmann’s interview regarding probiotics and UTIs.
Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.