You’ve probably heard of probiotics and all the benefits they can have on your health. But what exactly are they? Probiotics are live microorganisms — typically beneficial bacteria and yeasts — that live in your gut.
Adding a daily probiotic supplement to your daily routine can be beneficial to most people, but probiotics for women can be particularly valuable. A woman’s gut microbiome and vaginal microbiome require a delicate balance for healthy functioning and specially-formulated probiotics are perfect for that.
Women are also up to six times more likely to experience irritable bowel syndrome, so maintaining gut health is crucial.
Probiotics for women can be designed to boost vaginal health, digestive health and immune support. Plus, they’re available in a range of probiotic strains and forms. With a wide variety of choices, how do you find the right one for your individual needs?
Well, we scoured the market to find the best probiotics for women and discovered the top five products out there. Read on to learn more about which of these dietary supplements provide the health benefits you need.
Summary of the Best Probiotics for Women
Benefits of Probiotics for Women
More and more research shows that the balance of internal bacteria is linked to overall health and certain medical conditions. By promoting a healthy balance of the internal microbiome, probiotics have been linked to a wide range of health benefits.
Improved vaginal health
Research shows that some types of lactobacilli — one of the most popular probiotic strains — can be beneficial in preventing and treating vaginal infections, yeast infections and urogenital infections.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), an infection caused by a disruption in the balance of natural bacteria, is a common cause of vaginal discomfort. BV can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease and even pregnancy complications. Maintaining a healthy vaginal biome can help reduce the risk of contracting BV and therefore further reproductive health issues.
Maintain the balance of healthy gut bacteria
You can develop an imbalance of “good” and ”bad” bacteria in the gut through illness, poor diet and medication. And the consequences of this imbalance can be felt throughout the entire body. These consequences can include gastrointestinal issues, allergies, obesity, mental health issues and more.
Probiotic supplements are thought to help restore the natural, healthy balance of gut bacteria. This may help protect against numerous health complaints and maintain overall health and wellness.
Overall gut health
Women statistically experience more gastrointestinal problems than men, so promoting a healthy gut pay may be of particular importance to women. Taking probiotics can help reduce the symptoms of digestive conditions, such as bloating, diarrhea and constipation. However, it’s worth mentioning that the effects of probiotics are transient, meaning that once you stop taking them, the benefits will wear off.
Women can experience more changes in mood, due to hormonal fluctuations during their monthly cycle. Research indicates that a healthy gut microflora can help support good mental health, while an imbalanced microflora can contribute to mood issues.
A review study found that supplementing with bifidobacterium and lactobacillus strains for one to three months can improve depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders and more.
This is because our gut bacteria can influence and mimic the hormones responsible for regulating mood and also communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve. This connection is known as the gut-brain axis.
Prevent urinary tract infections
Approximately half of all women regularly experience urinary tract infections (UTIs). Evidence suggests that taking a probiotic suppository can effectively clear UTI infections and rebalance the vaginal microbiome. Furthermore, when infections do occur, probiotics can help calm the unpleasant symptoms of UTIs.
If you’re prone to UTI infection, this can prove to be particularly useful following a course of antibiotics, as these can often cause an imbalance in the body’s microbiome.
Certain probiotics may help with weight loss. Some probiotics can prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine, which is then excreted through the feces. However, more research is needed to understand the link between probiotics and weight.
Probiotics may help keep your heart healthy by lowering LDL (i.e. “bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure. Furthermore, some strains of lactic acid-producing bacteria may reduce cholesterol by breaking down bile in the gut, which prevents this form of cholesterol from being reabsorbed in the gut.
Best Probiotics in 2023
1. Best Overall Probiotic for Women: SHIFTED PROBIOTIC Formula
About the product
Each SHIFTED PROBIOTIC capsule contains a blend of seven probiotics, which may help:
- Support gut health
- Boost healthy gut bacteria
- Improve digestion
- Enhance immunity
- Improve general health
These capsules are made with MCT oil which is packed full of healthy fats that help nourish the gut’s good bacteria so they can grow and flourish. Furthermore, MCT oil may help strengthen the intestinal barrier to help stop harmful bacteria and pathogens from entering the body’s systems.
The SHIFTED PROBIOTIC Formula can be easily added to your nutrition and supplement regime. The vegan and gluten-free formula fits most dietary requirements. Simply take one capsule with a meal each day to get all the digestive and immunity benefits of the evidence-backed probiotic blend.
- Blend of seven probiotics
- Formulated with MCT oil
- CFUs: 5.75 billion
- Size: 30 capsules/container
- Serving size: 1 capsule
- Active ingredients: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus casei
2. Best Probiotic for Dietary Health: Ancient Nutrition SBO Probiotics Ultimate
About the product
The SBO Probiotics formula from Ancient Nutrition contains an organic fermented botanical blend, prebiotics and postbiotics designed to promote gut health.
This supplement is formulated with four clinically studied probiotics that thrive in the gut by creating a hospitable environment for healthy bacteria.
These capsules are also made with superfoods like turmeric root, ginger root and black pepper fruit, which have been fermented to release nutrients, making them easier to absorb.
This blend of ingredients may help support healthy digestive and immune function, promote regularity and reduce occasional constipation, gas and bloating.
Suitable for most dietary requirements, the probiotic is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free. It’s also vegan, keto and paleo-friendly.
- Organic ingredients
- Vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free
- 30-day money back guarantee
- CFUs: 50 billion
- Size: 60 capsules/container
- Serving size: 2 capsules
- Active ingredients – Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus clausii
3. Best Probiotic for Boosting Mood: Natural Stacks MoodBiotic
About the product
The blend of probiotics in the Natural Stacks MoodBiotic works to support gut health and improve digestion. 95% of serotonin is produced by your gut, so MoodBiotic may help boost your mood while also improving your digestive health.
Each vegetarian capsule contains probiotic strains associated with positive mood states, as well as probiotic strains that are known to increase levels of hormones related to brain health.
Natural Stacks believes in transparency and therefore provides both ingredient traceability and third-party lab results for every batch. The results of testing are available on the brand’s website and via a QR code on the product packaging.
- Natural ingredients
- Third-party lab tested
- Manufacturing transparency
- CFUs: 6 billion
- Size: 30 capsules/container
- Serving size: 1 capsules
- Active ingredients: Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus brevis
4. Best Probiotic Gummies: Aura Essentials Daily Probiotic Gummy
About the product
The Aura Essentials Daily Probiotic Gummy is designed to promote a diverse healthy microbiome, improve digestive regularity and help with occasional diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating.
Gummies like these are a good option if you aren’t fond of swallowing capsules because they’re tasty and chewy. The gummies are formulated with natural, clean ingredients that are gluten-free, plant-based and contain no artificial flavors or fillings.
- No artificial flavors or fillings
- Gluten-free, vegan and cruelty-free
- Natural and non-GMO ingredients
- CFUs: 3.5 billion
- Size: 60 gummies/container
- Serving size: 2 gummies
- Active ingredients: Bacillus coagullans, Bifidobacterium lactis
5. Best Probiotic for Immune Health: Akasha Naturals Flora Plus Probiotics
About the product
Help promote healthy digestion and boost immunity with the Flora Plus Probiotics capsules from Akasha Naturals. Each capsule contains powerful and reliable probiotic strains that are known to benefit digestion, boost immunity, promote hormonal balance and improve overall physical and mental well-being.
The capsules are dairy-free and vegetarian, so they will suit a wide range of dietary requirements. Just a single capsule a day provides enough bacteria to help maximize the function of the digestive system, by proliferating healthy bacteria and maintaining the integrity of the lining of the gut.
- Offers subscribe & save program
- CFUs: 15 billion
- Size: 60 capsules/container
- Serving size: 1 capsule
- Active ingredients: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis
How We Picked the Best Probiotics for Women
As probiotics are considered a dietary supplement, they aren’t regulated in the same way as medications. Because of this, we can’t always be sure that the probiotic contains enough bacteria to have an effect, that the bacteria are able to survive until they reach the gut and even that the amount of bacteria is the same as what’s stated on the packaging.
However, there are several criteria we can look at to make sure we’re recommending only the finest quality probiotic supplements for women:
How a probiotic supplement is manufactured can indicate quality. We looked for brands that produce their supplements adhering to Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations, which provide for systems that ensure systems and processes that assure strength, quality and purity of products.
Customer reviews offer great insights into the effectiveness of probiotic supplements for women. We read through dozens of verified customer reviews to see how real people responded to our chosen probiotic supplements – what benefits they experienced, how satisfied they were with the results and if customer service was up to scratch.
Quality ingredients are an absolute must. All of the probiotics we recommend are made with high-quality and natural ingredients and are free from preservatives, fillers and any other artificial ingredients. Plus, we favored brands that could provide results of third-party testing that verify the microorganism potency and purity of the probiotics.
What to Look For When Buying Probiotics
A good quality probiotic can help replenish the gut and vagina with healthy and productive bacteria. However, not all probiotics are created equal and choosing the wrong one can be at best costly and ineffective and at worst, cause further issues. Here are a few things to keep in mind when buying probiotic supplements:
Different probiotic strains are beneficial to different health concerns. For example, lactobacillus acidophilus and bacillus coagulans have been shown to benefit bloating and the symptoms of IBS, while bifidobacterium lactis can help support gut health in those with occasional constipation.
Therefore, before buying a probiotic, do a little research to find out which strains are most beneficial to your health and wellness issues.
You’re going to want to make sure the shelf life of a probiotic lasts long enough for your intended use. While the expiration date varies between supplements, most shelf-stable probiotics last between one to two years. Using proper storage techniques, such as keeping them in their blister packs or proper packaging, can maximize the shelf life.
It’s also worth checking the storage needs of probiotic supplements. Most probiotics are shelf-stable, meaning they can be stored at room temperature, while others require refrigeration due to being sensitive to heat and moisture.
Probiotics are available for different health and wellness concerns. Think about your intended use for a probiotic — whether it be to support digestive health, immune function, or reproductive health — and choose a formulation with microorganisms targeted to your concerns.
Determining value for money is not always easy with supplements, but there are a few things that can help you figure out if a probiotic is worth the money:
- Number of CFUs
- Number of probiotic strains
- Formula quality
- Third-party testing
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain bacteria and yeasts that naturally live in your body. There are constant colonies of good and bad bacteria within the body — such as in the gut, vagina, mouth and urinary tract. When you get an infection the levels of bad bacteria are higher than good bacteria, which knocks your body’s microflora out of balance. Probiotics flood your system with good bacteria, restoring balance.
For a microbe to qualify as a probiotic, it must be able to:
- Be isolated from a human
- Survive in your intestine after being consumed
- Have a proven benefit to humans
- Be consumed safely.
There are many microorganisms that are considered probiotics, with the most common being lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, which are types of bacteria and saccharomyces boulardii, a type of yeast.
Probiotics are associated with improving a number of conditions, such as reducing the frequency of infections, maintaining vaginal health and relieving gastrointestinal distress, such as occasional diarrhea and constipation.
Side effects associated with probiotics are typically mild and include an increase in bloating, gas and constipation. However, any side effects are usually temporary.
Unlikely, but possible risks of probiotics include developing infections, developing antibiotics and a reaction to harmful byproducts from the probiotics. These risks are increased if you have a medical condition that compromises your immune system, have recently had surgery, or currently suffer a serious medical condition.
The Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are supplements or foods that contain live microorganisms intended to support and replenish the good bacteria in the body. Prebiotics are supplements of foods — typically high in fiber — that provide nutrition for the body’s microflora. Examples of foods that are high in prebiotics include:
- Whole grains
- Raw garlic and onion
A diet rich in prebiotic foods also supports the health of the intestines, by improving digestion, boosting the absorption of nutrients and supporting the immune system. Furthermore, they are a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, which is essential for maintaining bone health.
How do probiotics work?
Probiotic supplements work by providing a dose of good bacteria, which can help restore disrupted flora in the gut and vagina. Subsequently, a healthy microflora can in turn boost immunity, metabolism, energy levels and overall health.
The good bacteria (and yeasts in some probiotics) help equalize the excess of bad bacteria, which can be caused by lack of exercise, pollution, stress and unhealthy foods.
Are there any side effects of probiotics?
Probiotics are safe for use by the majority of people, but there can be side effects. The most common side effects of probiotics include a temporary increase in bloating, constipation, gas and thirst.
In rarer cases, those with compromised immune systems or recent surgeries may develop an infection from the bacteria in probiotic supplements. Therefore, it’s wise to speak to your doctor before you start taking probiotics.
Plus, those with allergies could have an adverse reaction to some of the ingredients contained within a supplement, so always check the ingredient list carefully.
Can probiotics help with digestive issues?
If you’re taking a high-quality, multi-species and multi-strain probiotic supplement, you can expect to see improvements in minor digestive issues like bloating, constipation and stomach pain in as little as one to two weeks.
When is the best time to take probiotics?
Probiotics are typically most effective when taken 20 to 30 minutes before a meal. Taking it before breakfast may be most effective as the digestive system has been in a state of rest for an extended period of time, meaning the probiotic has less resistance reaching the intestines.
Can probiotics be taken with antibiotics?
Yes, clinical research suggests that antibiotics can be taken alongside probiotics. As a general rule, it’s recommended that you leave a gap of between one and two hours after taking an antibiotic before taking a probiotic supplement. After this length of time, sufficient levels of microorganisms are able to reach the gut alive.
Do I have to take probiotics forever?
For short-term relief, such as reducing diarrhea, probiotic supplements can work in as little as a few days. However, for more chronic issues, such as long-term bloating, it may be more beneficial to take probiotics for weeks or months at a time. This is because when you stop taking probiotics, your microflora may return to its pre-supplementation state within one to three weeks. For longer-lasting results, it’s recommended to continue feeding the “good” bacteria with probiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be consumed as supplements or as part of our diets in fermented food like probiotic yogurt or kimchi. They are designed to boost the populations of beneficial bacteria and yeasts (microflora) that live in our guts and vagina.
By restoring balance to the microflora can have a number of health benefits including improved gut and vaginal health, protection against infection, better heart health and even boosted mood. Probiotic supplements may be of particular benefit to women, who are more prone to UTI infections, digestive issues and IBS.
As probiotic supplements include microorganisms that are already found in the human body, the side effects are typically minimal, with common ones including temporary forms of bloating, constipation and thirst. That being said, it’s recommended you talk to your doctor before you start taking a probiotic supplement, particularly if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are pregnant.
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