Best Probiotics for Women

8 Probiotic Health Benefits for Women.

Key Takeaways

● Probiotics have unique health benefits for women.
● Probiotics improve digestion, depression, and anxiety.
● Probiotics can help balance female hormones – including the thyroid – and fertility.
● Probiotics can improve acne.
● Probiotics can help resolve and prevent vaginal and urinary tract infections.
● Probiotics can prevent gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, excess weight gain, and vaginal infections during pregnancy.
● For best results, choose one probiotic from each of three categories and use regularly.

Probiotics are good for just about everyone, but they have unique benefits for women. Probiotics are live cultures of good bacteria that you take as a supplement or in probiotic foods to support your health and well-being.

Using probiotics may improve your vaginal, hormonal, and mental health. 

Let’s take a look at how probiotic supplements can benefit women’s health.

1. Improve Gut Health

Best Probiotics for Women -

Women have a greater incidence of IBS than men and also experience more IBS symptoms.  [1, 2

Your digestive health depends on the balance of bad and good bacteria in your intestinal tract. An imbalance can lead to digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and leaky gut and can also cause digestive symptoms like bloating and constipation. Poor digestive health can also negatively impact your immune health.

Using probiotics can help restore healthy balance in the gut and help support digestive health and because the mouth is actually part of the digestive tract, probiotics can even help improve oral health. Research shows that probiotics are an effective treatment for IBS and other digestive disorders, with no side effects. [3 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 4 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]

Probiotics can also:

Said simply, probiotics can help improve the balance of organisms in your gut, and reduce the gut inflammation which many women suffer with, all generally without negative side effects. The bacteria in your gut also impact other areas of your body like your mood, hormones, skin, and even fertility. 

2. Improve and Balance Mood

Best Probiotics for Women -

If you experience depression or anxiety, you’re not alone. Women are twice as likely to be depressed than men, and twice as likely to have anxiety disorders as men. The good news is, if you are depressed, probiotic supplements may help support your mood.

If you experience depression and anxiety, it may be worth trying probiotics to improve your mood.

3. Balance Female Hormones

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You’ve likely experienced at least one episode of symptoms related to your monthly hormone cycle, like cramps, irritability, or mood swings.

Your gut bacteria play an important role in the breakdown of hormones and their removal from your blood. This is especially important for women because, if this process slows down, imbalances in estrogen are likely. Too much estrogen contributes to conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), endometriosis, reproductive cancer, and cardiovascular disease. [16 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]

There is some evidence that these types of hormonally influenced conditions may improve from increased diversity in your gut microbiome. [17 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]

4. Improve Thyroid Function

Best Probiotics for Women -

According to the American Thyroid Association, women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. If you have a thyroid condition, probiotics may help.

Research suggests a correlation between low thyroid function, thyroid autoimmunity and gut health disorders. Correlations were found for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) [18 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 19 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source] and H. pylori overgrowth [20 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Since we know that probiotic supplements can be effective for treating these gut imbalances, it’s plausible that improving your gut health with probiotic supplements may be helpful for those with low thyroid function.

In fact, in one interesting randomized controlled trial, an 8-week course of probiotics reduced thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, required T4 dose, and fatigue compared to placebo. [21 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source] This implies that probiotics may play an important role in balancing thyroid health.

If you struggle with symptoms like fatigue and brain fog, despite taking thyroid hormone supplements and getting normal thyroid lab test results, it’s very possible that your thyroid is not the problem. Low thyroid symptoms and symptoms of poor gut health are very similar. In this case it’s important not to focus exclusively on your thyroid health. A 30-day trial of probiotics may start to resolve symptoms that may be caused by your gut.

5. Improve Skin

Best Probiotics for Women -

Do you struggle with skin blemishes that pop up when you least want them to? Skin issues like acne have been shown to be interrelated with the gut and skin microbiome, the immune system, and diet. [22 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source] Using topical probiotic products (soaps or creams) have been shown to improve acne [23 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 24 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. And because acne is often related to your hormones, oral probiotics may help balance this hormonal trigger as well.

6. Increase Fertility

Best Probiotics for Women -

Improving your gut health with probiotic supplements may lead to improvements in your thyroid and hormone health and your fertility. 

Though the data aren’t yet clear, consider this:

  • In one observational study, women with elevated thyroid antibodies had more miscarriages and fewer live births. [25 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]
  • A randomized-controlled trial showed that an 8-week course of probiotics improved thyroid lab markers. [26 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]
  • In a systematic review and meta-analysis (the highest quality data), probiotics improved hormone and inflammatory markers in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), who often struggle with infertility. [27 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]

I have seen improvements in gut health improve my patients’ fertility. For example, I had a 29-year-old patient with IBS and PCOS who wasn’t menstruating after coming off the birth control pill. As part of her treatment plan, I included probiotics and female support herbs, and encouraged some diet changes. Over the next several months, her digestive symptoms improved, her cycle returned, and she became pregnant naturally.

If you are struggling with infertility, improving your gut health with probiotics may be worth a trial.

7. Promote Vaginal Health and Reduce Urinary Tract Infections

Best Probiotics for Women -

Uncomfortable vaginal infections are no fun.  Using probiotics to support your vaginal flora may help. If you get frequent bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections, probiotics may help you resolve and prevent them. If you get recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), it’s important to understand that this may be connected to bacterial vaginosis [28].

  • In a systematic review, Lactobacillus probiotics applied vaginally showed promise for treating bacterial vaginosis. [29 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]
  • In another systematic review, oral probiotic supplementation improved outcomes for bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and human papilloma virus (HPV). [30 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]

8. Benefits for Pregnancy

Best Probiotics for Women -

There may be no more important time in life for optimizing health than when you are pregnant and nursing. The good news is that probiotics may help you during this time.

Women who took probiotics during pregnancy had fewer incidences of: [31

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Vaginal bacteria infections

Consider including probiotics as part of your prenatal dietary supplements to encourage a healthy pregnancy.

How to Use Probiotics for Women’s Health

With so many health benefits, probiotic supplements can be a regular part of your general health maintenance program. Whether you choose powders, gummies, or capsules, there are many possible probiotics and different species on the market.  

The best probiotics for women are the ones that will lead to a balanced gut.

Balancing your gut is often as simple as including one probiotic formula from each category:

Using one type is good, but using all three together often provides the maximum benefit. Types 1 and 2 should be refrigerated, while Type 3 is usually shelf-stable.

Best Probiotics for Women -

Many people don’t seem to achieve balance in their microbiota with just one probiotic formula. Some lucky people do, but for many, one probiotic won’t suffice. I have seen the best results with my patients following a protocol that includes all three probiotic categories. For many patients who have tried probiotics in the past, this approach makes all the difference.

You should choose products with colony-forming units (CFUs) in the billions. You can take your probiotics any time of day, with or without food.

Eating a diet rich in prebiotic fiber may support the live cultures in your probiotic supplements, but use prebiotics with caution. They can be a symptom trigger for those with IBS and other digestive disorders.

Best Probiotics for Women -

Many people recommend fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and kefir for their probiotic content. These foods are beneficial, but may not have enough colony-forming units to give you a clinical effect.

Choosing the Best Probiotics for Women

Choosing probiotics for women isn’t any different than choosing probiotics for men. Your main objective is to make sure you are getting a quality probiotic product. Because probiotic pills and supplements aren’t heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, you need to do your own quality control to make sure your probiotics will give you the benefit you’re hoping for.

Here are the criteria I recommend to make sure you are choosing high-quality probiotic supplements:

  • Independent lab analysis to guarantee the claims on the package.
  • Probiotic species are clearly labelled and guaranteed.
  • Potency is guaranteed by independent lab analysis.
  • Free of major allergens (for example, is gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, etc.)
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) are in place in the product facility.

You may also want to make sure the product uses vegetarian capsules, or is vegan, if this is important to you.

For more on how to use probiotics, see our Probiotics Starter Guide.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re trying to improve acne, reduce your PMS, stop bloating, or feel less depressed, probiotics are a valuable and effective strategy to help you with your women’s health concerns.

Including high-quality probiotic supplements in your regular routine is easy and is likely to provide you with numerous benefits for your gut health, hormone health, skin, and mood.

References (click to expand)
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