Use of Lactobacillus spp. to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in females

Med Hypotheses. 2018 May:114:49-54. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2018.03.001. Epub 2018 Mar 5.


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common bacterial infections seen in the community, especially amongst females. The widespread use of antibiotics has led to the increased occurrence of E. coli resistant isolates worldwide. A promising non-antibiotic approach is the use of probiotic lactobacilli strains. This paper hypothesizes that Lactobacillus spp. containing products are able to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in females. Using the keywords [lactobacillus OR lactobacilli OR probiotic] and [urinary tract infection OR UTI OR cystitis], a preliminary search on the PubMed, Ovid, Google Scholar and database yielded 1,647 papers published in English between 1-Jan-1960 and 1-May-2017. 9 clinical trials with a total of 726 patients were reviewed. Different lactobacilli strains (in either oral or suppository formulation) were utilized and they demonstrated varying efficacy in the prevention of recurrent UTIs. Using a random-effects model, pooled risk ratio of at least one recurrent UTI episode during the entire study duration was 0.684 (95% CI 0.438 to 0.929, p < 0.001), per-protocol analysis. However, key limitations include significant inter-study variability and the limited duration of follow-up of most studies. Our hypothesis on the chemoprophylactic effects of probiotics for UTIs is plausible and supported by current data. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC14 were the most commonly studied lactobacilli strains. Further and more robust randomized controlled trials with standardized lactobacilli strains and formulation are required for confirmation of effects.

Keywords: Lactobacillus; Preventive; Probiotics; Recurrent; UTI; Urinary tract infections.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Escherichia coli
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents