Probiotics are gaining wider spread use among both patients and physicians. More pharmacists are proactively informing patients that antibiotics and medications for gastric reflux (proton pump inhibitors or PPIs such as Prilosec or Nexium) can alter the balance of bacteria and yeast in the intestinal tract. Maintaining the “good” bacteria in the intestinal tract with probiotics is one of the 4 columns of gut health our nutritional consultant, Brandi Grimmer, endorses.
How are hormones involved? Hormone imbalance or estrogen dominance, also known as peri-menopause, can affect women for up to 15 years prior to menopause. Symptoms of this condition are heavy menses, shorter cycles, trouble sleeping, mood changes and weight gain. Some women experience an increased frequency of yeast infections. Testing hormone levels for estrogen dominance during the luteal phase and treating with progesterone supplementation are options.
Treatments for an active yeast infection include anti-fungal medications such as Diflucan, Terazol or Monistat. Adding a specific probiotic, Lactobacillus acidophilus, can supplement therapy and even help deter future yeast infections. Keystone carries this vaginal health probiotic under the brand name Floragen, not to be confused with Floragen 3, which is more effective for restoring and maintaining gastrointestinal health.
Finally, gut health itself may affect estrogen levels. Some of the “bad gut bugs” over produce an enzyme called betaglucouronidase, which re-cycles estrogen. Using probiotics and following Brandi’s other 3 steps to good gut health can actually displace those bad gut bugs. Which means the estrogen is not recycled and the overall level may drop 15 to 20%. So improving gut health would benefit those women with estrogen dominance. In contrast, women in menopause or experiencing estrogen deficiency symptoms (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, brain fog and bladder issues), may need to increase estrogen dosage as gut health improves.