What are the Best Probiotics for Women?
Your digestive tract is filled with so-called “good” or beneficial bacteria that help your body absorb nutrients, establish immunity and create waste materials. Probiotics balance out the bad and good microbes in your intestines. The best probiotics for women contain the right amount of bacteria to colonize your gut and help you stay healthy.
The Importance of Gut Health
Your intestines aren’t just an empty tunnel that filters food from your stomach to the toilet; they contain a finely tuned balance of bacteria that stimulate digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Beneficial bacteria obliterate toxic byproducts that are created during digestion. (source). They can also hinder the growth of damaging germs that can cause diarrhea and other health problems.
When the Bad Takes Over
“Bad” microorganisms in the digestive tract can damage the cells of the intestines. (source).
Different bacteria have different effects on the gut. Some simply cause gas, bloating and diarrhea as they react negatively with food. Others take over your intestines, crowding out the beneficial microorganisms that help your body absorb essential vitamins and minerals.
It’s Not Just About Poop
When detrimental bacteria are present in large numbers in your intestines, they can cause unexpected symptoms that seem unrelated to digestive distress. Systemic autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis have been linked with the presence of certain bacteria in the colon. (source). In fact, most inflammatory conditions begin in the intestines.
Type 2 diabetes, gingivitis and heart disease are all influenced by inflammation. Replenishing the intestines with healthy bacteria can help kill off or crowd out the detrimental bacteria that can lead to dangerous health conditions. (source)
Who Can Use Probiotics?
Everyone can benefit from using probiotics. People who don’t eat a nutritious and balanced diet may be ingesting materials that feed the bad bacteria more than the good bacteria. If you’ve recently been on antibiotics, it’s likely that most of your bacteria have been wiped out. The good microorganisms in your digestive system can be replenished by taking probiotics.
Even babies who were born via cesarean section or whose mothers were given antibiotics during labor can benefit from taking a probiotic supplement to introduce beneficial bacteria to their systems. People who are concerned about achieving optimal health will see improvements when they take a probiotic.
If you have an autoimmune disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal issues or recurrent yeast or urinary tract infections, a probiotic can help improve your symptoms. The probiotic actually gets to the heart of the condition by creating an optimal digestive environment. I found that taking probiotics helped me lose the weight I had slowly gained over the years.
Why you Need a Probiotic
How do Probiotics Work?
Probiotics are live bacteria that are consumed in powder, capsule or liquid form. Some foods, such as yogurt, are enriched with probiotics. Live bacteria can also be generated in foods like sauerkraut or kefir as they ferment. As the probiotics enter the digestive tract, they can colonize it, providing a counterbalance to the detrimental microbes and even killing them off in some cases.
How to Choose a Probiotic
The amount of beneficial bacteria found in food products is often not enough to colonize the digestive tract, however. Probiotics can be taken as a dietary supplement, but they vary widely in quality and effectiveness. The ingredients and potency in probiotics can vary.
Different probiotics contain varying strains and amounts of bacteria. Some strains, such as lactobacillus bulgaricus, which is found in many yogurts, are destroyed by stomach acid before they have a chance to do their work in the intestines. (source). Bifidobacteria, which is found in Dannon’s Activia yogurt, can help improve digestive health.
Dietary supplements in pill, capsule or liquid form are developed to contain specific strains of bacteria that have been confirmed to be effective through clinical trials. When you’re taking a probiotic as a supplement, you can select one that is effective for managing your specific symptoms.
If you’re taking probiotics for general health benefits, you should look for a product that contains a variety of strains to more closely match the natural variety of digestive flora. If you have a specific ailment, read the product label to determine if that brand contains the type of bacteria that can improve your symptoms.
Saccharomyces boulardii can help prevent travelers’ diarrhea, for example, and it’s also helpful for replenishing the microorganisms that are killed off when you take antibiotics. Bifidobacterium animalis lactis Bi-07 has been shown to help you get over the common cold.
Probiotics and Women's Health
Some probiotics specifically target areas that are important for women's health. When the good bacteria are outnumbered by bad bacteria, yeast overgrowth can occur, causing vaginal yeast infections, fungal infections on the skin or candida imbalance in the gut. Many strains of probiotics can help ward off yeast infections.
Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, affect women more than men. Probiotics can improve symptoms of UTIs and prevent them from occurring. They can also help balance weight and help regulate the thyroid.
When you’re taking probiotics, it’s important to choose wisely. Some probiotics don’t contain the specified amounts of live bacteria. Others require refrigeration and deteriorate rapidly if they’re not shipped or stored in the optimal conditions. Read below to find out more about my top 5 picks.
The Best Probiotics for Women
PRO-Women: Probiotics for Women with Cranberry Extract and D-Mannose
This probiotic formula claims to deliver 15 times more probiotics to the digestive tract than traditional capsules. It contains 30 tablets with time-release technology that only need to be taken once a day. This PRO-Women formula is designed for women who suffer from UTIs. The product is made in the United States.
- Urinary tract benefits without added sugar.
- Manage weight and yeast.
- No artificial ingredients.
- No refrigeration necessary.
- Eighteen-month shelf life.
- Time-release protects pills from stomach acid.
- Lower potency may not yield results.
- Fewer strains than some other formulas.
- Large pills are difficult to swallow.
- Contains trace amounts of casein.
- Not suitable for milk allergies.
Garden of Life RAW Probiotics Women
The RAW probiotics formula for women is formulated with no fillers or carriers. The product claims to support optimal thyroid function as well as yeast balance in the body. If you have occasional gas or constipation, you may find relief when taking this probiotic.
- Contains 32 strains of bacteria.
- Includes 85 billion live cultures.
- Relieves gas and bloating with enzymes.
- Helps with lactose intolerance.
- Gluten free.
- Adds nutrients with whole food blend.
- Does not contain artificial ingredients.
- Take with or without food.
- Mix powder with water or juice.
- Contains no soy, a common allergen.
- Contains prebiotics, which feed beneficial microorganisms.
- Contains added vitamins and minerals.
- Requires refrigeration to maintain vitality.
- May lose effectiveness if shipped warm.
- Large pills are hard to swallow.
- May cause constipation in certain individuals.
- Detoxification symptoms may be intense.
Renew Life Ultimate Flora Women's Vaginal Probiotic
This product contains 10 strains of bacteria that are known to support healthy vaginal and urinary tract bacteria. The delayed-release formula has time to reach the digestive tract. The bottle includes 60 pills, and it is recommended to take one capsule daily. This formula does not contain dairy or gluten.
- Vegetarian formula.
- Free of GMOs.
- Contains 50 billion live cultures.
- Time-release formula passes through stomach acid.
- Results achieved with only one capsule.
- Requires refrigeration.
- Must be kept below 73 degrees.
- Better for yeast than general maintenance.
Renew Life Ultimate Flora Women's Complete Capsules
This formula claims to encourage digestive health and support immunity as well as promote vaginal and urinary health. Each capsule contains 90 billion cultures, and 12 strains of bacteria are present in the formula. The probiotic capsules contain no common allergens or artificial ingredients.
- High-potency formula.
- Contains many live bacteria per capsule.
- Only take one capsule per day.
- Specific strains target vagina and bladder.
- Also targets small and large intestines.
- Replenishes colonies that diminish with age.
- Delayed-release capsules withstand stomach acid.
- Capsules are made of vegetarian ingredients.
- May be too potent.
- Better for experienced probiotics users.
- Best retains potency if refrigerated.
- Can cause initial digestive distress.
- May need to be introduced gradually.
Sedona Labs Iflora Probiotic for Women
This blend purports to support feminine health, including vaginal and urinary wellbeing. This probiotic is resistant to stomach acid, delivering effectiveness directly to the bowels. It claims to support balanced digestion as well as normal yeast levels and bowel function. Each serving contains 6 different strains of bacteria and 30 billion live cultures.
- Low-potency formula is gentle.
- Contains fructooligosaccharide, which is a prebiotic.
- Small capsules are easy to swallow.
- May help with yeast overgrowth.
- Two capsules make up one serving.
- Only 15 billion cultures per capsule.
- May need several to achieve results.
- Contains the filler maltodextrin.
If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, Garden of Life RAW Probiotics are the most effective for the price. You get 90 pills for approximately $35 on Amazon, and although the suggested serving size is three pills, the potency of that serving is similar to that of one of the Renew Life Ultimate Flora Women's Complete Capsules.
If you’re new to taking probiotics, you can start taking the Garden of Life product gradually so that you don’t experience intense side effects.
Everyone experiences different results from probiotics depending on their needs. You should see improvement in your digestive issues, yeast balance and urinary health when taking any of these probiotics, but the Garden of Life brand may yield improved results. The added vitamins and minerals add to the immunity boost that the probiotics deliver.
The Garden of Life RAW Probiotics provide a wide variety of bacterial strains, enhancing the natural flora of your digestive system. This formula is ideal for general issues or specific conditions that are often experienced by women.
The microorganisms will colonize your intestines, and the prebiotics in the pills will feed the beneficial microbes, helping them to stick around and help you achieve optimal health.