Constipation and haemorrhoids are common complaints after childbirth. The objective of this pilot study was to evaluate impact of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS) on stool consistency and frequency, constipation-related symptoms and quality of life, and incidence of haemorrhoids in women during puerperium. Forty women who had natural childbirth were randomised to group consuming either one bottle/day of fermented milk containing at least 6.5×109 cfu of LcS, or placebo, for 6 weeks after childbirth. Subjects filled in a diary on their bowel habits including number of bowel movement, stool consistency and incidence of haemorrhoids, and answered questionnaires on constipation-related symptoms (PAC-SYM) and quality of life (PAC-QOL) during the study period. The probiotic group showed the better scores on overall PAC-SYM (P=0.013), PAC-SYM subscales of abdominal symptoms (P=0.043) and rectal symptoms (P=0.031), and PAC-QOL satisfaction subscale (P=0.037) in comparison with the placebo group. In the probiotic group, two to four subjects experienced haemorrhoids during the first 3 weeks of treatment. The number decreased in week 4 and no one had haemorrhoids on most days in week 5-6. In the placebo group, on average four subjects had haemorrhoids from the beginning, and no obvious change was observed until week 6. No statistically significant effect was observed on stool consistency and frequency. The study products did not cause any adverse event in the subjects. Results of this study indicate that continuous consumption of fermented milk containing LcS might alleviate constipation-related symptoms, provide satisfactory bowel habit and result in earlier recovery from haemorrhoids in women during puerperium. Nonetheless, there are several limitations in interpretation of the results attributed to the study design, including lack of baseline data. Further study is required in order to confirm the efficacy.
Keywords: Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota; Probiotics; constipation; haemorrhoids; puerperium.