Probiotics: A Pioneer in Reproductive Optimization
Oct 25, 2023
Embarking on the journey toward conception involves a nuanced understanding of our bodies and an often-overlooked realm of that is the role of microorganisms. Recent scientific breakthroughs illuminate the potential of probiotics – those tiny but mighty organisms – in influencing fertility outcomes.
The pivotal role of the reproductive microbiome in shaping fertility outcomes is gaining heightened recognition. While extensive research has been dedicated to exploring interventions for bacterial vaginosis and addressing disordered microbiomes to optimize results in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), the integration of routinely prescribed probiotics into this landscape is an emerging area of research.
Beyond the confines of reproductive health, the gut microbiome emerges as a linchpin for overall well-being. Remarkably, the microbiome within the digestive tract is not only integral to maintaining overall health but has also been implicated in contributing to complications during pregnancy. Moreover, recent revelations about alterations in both the vaginal and placental microbiome during pregnancy further fuel the intrigue, suggesting potential roles in the emergence of pregnancy-related complications.
As we explore this intricate realm of microbial influences, it becomes apparent that probiotics may be a useful tool to support fertility and optimize pregnancy outcomes.
Understanding the Relationship
- Enhanced Sperm Motility in Men: The journey toward conception begins with healthy sperm, and recent findings suggest a link between probiotics and increased sperm motility (1).
- Vaginal Microbiome and Pregnancy Rates: Research illustrates a significant association between an abnormal vaginal microbiome and reduced pregnancy rates (2). Probiotics show promise in addressing vaginal and endometrial dysbiosis, providing a safe and potentially effective intervention for improving reproductive outcomes (3).
- Improving the Vaginal Microbiome: Probiotics containing Lactobacillus strains have been shown to help maintain a healthy vaginal microenvironment. Lactic acid production by these probiotics creates an inhospitable environment for pathogenic bacteria, showcasing their role in preventing and addressing vaginal and endometrial dysbiosis (3).
- Protective Role in Pregnancy Complications: Research points to indications of a protective role of probiotics in various pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, vaginal infections, and maternal and infant weight gain (4). The potential of probiotics to mitigate these effects highlights their significance in overall maternal and infant health.
- Gut Microbiome and Adverse Maternal Outcomes: Research emphasizes the link between the maternal gut microbiome and diabetes and obesity. Probiotic interventions before and during pregnancy could serve as a preventive strategy, altering the gut microbiome's composition for better maternal outcomes (4).
Contrary to concerns about potential negative effects, findings suggest that probiotic supplementation during pregnancy is unlikely to adversely affect pregnant and lactating women or lead to an increase in adverse pregnancy outcomes (5). This reinforces the safety and feasibility of incorporating probiotics into prenatal care.
Foundational Benefits of Probiotics and Identifying Essential Strains
- Promoting Regularity and Immune Support: Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04 has been shown to address irregularities such as diarrhea (6). Additionally, this strain has been associated with allergy prevention and immune system support, making it a valuable addition to probiotic formulations (7, 8).
- Vaginal Health Support: Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14 is used to treat bacterial vaginosis and to support overall vaginal health (9). Including this strain in probiotic supplements may contribute to maintaining a balanced and healthy vaginal microbiome.
- Correcting Microbial Imbalances: Lactobacillus rhamnosus Lr-32 helps treat candida infections (10). This strain's inclusion in probiotic formulations can be particularly beneficial for those experiencing an imbalance in their gut microbiome.
As we infer into the complicated world of microbes, the symbiotic dance between microbiomes emerges as a key to unraveling fertility mysteries. The gut microbiome, a central player in overall well-being, influences pregnancy complexities. Recent insights into alterations in the vaginal and placental microbiome during pregnancy deepen our understanding. This suggests that probiotics might prevent complications or adverse outcomes. Reassuringly, incorporating probiotics into prenatal care is deemed safe, providing a feasible and beneficial option. The recognition of the reproductive microbiome's significance is growing, with the inclusion of routinely prescribed probiotics into fertility considerations showing promise. Men and women should consider a probiotic supplement as a valuable ally on their fertility journey.
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- Corbett, G. A., Crosby, D. A., & McAuliffe, F. M. (2021). Probiotic therapy in couples with infertility: A systematic review. European journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology, 256, 95–100.
- Haahr, T., Jensen, J. S., Thomsen, L., Duus, L., Rygaard, K., & Humaidan, P. (2016). Abnormal vaginal microbiota may be associated with poor reproductive outcomes: a prospective study in IVF patients. Human reproduction (Oxford, England), 31(4), 795–803.
- Blancafort, C., & Llácer, J. (2023). Can probiotics enhance fertility outcome? Capacity of probiotics as a single intervention to improve the feminine genital tract microbiota in non-symptomatic reproductive-aged women. Frontiers in endocrinology, 13, 1081830.
- Gomez Arango, L. F., Barrett, H. L., Callaway, L. K., & Nitert, M. D. (2015). Probiotics and pregnancy. Current diabetes reports, 15(1), 567.
- Elias, J., Bozzo, P., & Einarson, A. (2011). Are probiotics safe for use during pregnancy and lactation?. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 57(3), 299–301.
- Ouwehand, A. C., DongLian, C., Weijian, X., Stewart, M., Ni, J., Stewart, T., & Miller, L. E. (2014). Probiotics reduce symptoms of antibiotic use in a hospital setting: a randomized dose response study. Vaccine, 32(4), 458–463
- Bergmann, K. C., Krause, L., Hiller, J., Becker, S., Kugler, S., Tapparo, M., Pfaar, O., Zuberbier, T., Kramer, M. F., Guethoff, S., & Graessel, A. (2020). First evaluation of a symbiotic food supplement in an allergen exposure chamber in birch pollen allergic patients. The World Allergy Organization journal, 14(1), 100494.
- West, N. P., Horn, P. L., Pyne, D. B., Gebski, V. J., Lahtinen, S. J., Fricker, P. A., & Cripps, A. W. (2014). Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 33(4), 581–587.
- Russo, R., Edu, A., & De Seta, F. (2018). Study on the effects of an oral lactobacilli and lactoferrin complex in women with intermediate vaginal microbiota. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 298(1), 139–145.
- Miyazima, T. Y., Ishikawa, K. H., Mayer, M., Saad, S., & Nakamae, A. (2017). Cheese supplemented with probiotics reduced the Candida levels in denture wearers-RCT. Oral diseases, 23(7), 919–925.