12 best probiotics for women and health benefits you need to know

Editor: John Ajayi, B.Sc, MBA
Medical review: Moyo Adeyemi, M.B., B.S., FRCPC
Science Editor: Sunday O. Ajayi, Ph.D
Probiotics have health benefits for women. Pic credit: Pixabay

Probiotics are microorganisms — bacteria and yeasts — that live in the body and confer health benefits to the host. Although they are most commonly associated with the digestive tract, they are also found in the lungs, skin, urinary, and vaginal tracts.

The best probiotics for women will contain the right mix of strains and species of microorganisms best suited for promoting women’s health, such as weight management, gut, urinary tract, and vaginal health. Many women will also be looking for probiotic formulations that help boost sexual function, reproductive health, pre-menopausal, perimenopausal, and menopausal health.

The digestive tract contains trillions of probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and probiotic yeast such as Saccharomyces. Each person has a gut microbiota profile that plays a role in metabolism, the structural integrity of the gut lining, protection against infection, and immune system modulation.

Your gut microbiota profile is shaped by various environmental factors during gestation and birth. Factors that shape gut microbiota during early life include feeding (breast or bottle feeding) and the weaning period, according to Rinninella et al.

Gut microbiome undergoes changes and modifications during life and a healthy balance of gut bacteria has significant implications for digestive and overall health.


12 best probiotics for women

16 health benefits of probiotics for women

Foods that contain probiotics

Safety of probiotics supplements

What to look for when choosing a probiotic supplement

Best probiotics for women’s health

12 best probiotics for women

Probiotics maintain gut and vaginal health in women. Pic credit: Pixabay

Probiotics help promote the health of the digestive system in many ways. A well-established colony of friendly probiotic microorganisms competitively inhibits the proliferation of harmful or pathogenic bacteria. Any condition or situation that disrupts the healthy balance of gut bacteria may lead to health problems. For instance, poor diet, stress, and antibiotics therapy may upset the healthy balance of gut microbiota by killing off good bacteria and creating opportunities for bad bacteria that cause disease.

But the good news is that you can repopulate your gut with friendly bacteria and restore a healthy balance by taking foods or supplements containing live cultures.

Trillions of probiotics live in the gastrointestinal tract of humans. Pic credit: bodymybody/Pixabay

If you want to buy a probiotic supplement based on your healthcare provider’s advice, we are here to help. Choosing the right probiotics can be a daunting task because there are so many different brands on the market. But we have narrowed down the list for you to make your search easier.

You may follow this link to view our editors’ pick of the 12 best probiotics for women.

But before you do so, we strongly recommend that you read on to acquaint yourself with the best science research-based evidence on the use of probiotics in managing different health conditions affecting women. Being informed about the evidence backing recommendation of probiotics for women will help you make an informed, well-considered decision about whether or not you need probiotics and which formulation is best for you.

Learn more about:

Foods that contain probiotics;

Safety of probiotic supplements;

What to look for when choosing a probiotic supplement

16 health benefits of probiotics for women

1. Probiotics may prevent constipation

Probiotics benefit their host’s gut in many ways. Pic credit: Pixabay

Probiotics benefit the hosts in many ways. They promote healthy functioning of the digestive tract by preventing digestive disturbances, such as diarrhea and constipation.

Dimidi et al. reported that probiotics may prevent constipation in adults by improving gut transit time, stool frequency, and consistency. They reported that studies suggested that the probiotic species Bifidobacterium lactis was effective for preventing constipation. But they urged caution in interpreting their data due to the possibility of reporting bias.

They also recommended more studies to determine the strains or species that were most effective, doses, and duration of use.

A review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by Miller and associates also concluded that supplementation of diet with products containing Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium increased stool frequency and reduced gut transit time in constipated adults. They also urged caution in interpreting their data.

2. Probiotics may prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea

Probiotics may relieve antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Pic credit: JimCoote/Pixabay

Prolonged antibiotic therapy may deplete gut microbiota and cause antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). Research studies show that you may alleviate AAD by taking probiotics.

Guandalini reported that the efficacy of probiotics in treating AAD in children and adults has been widely investigated. The most commonly tested probiotics were Lactobacillus GG, L. acidophilus, L. casei, Bifidobacterium ssp, Streptococcus ssp, and Saccharomyces boulardii (yeast).

According to Guandalini, trials showed “clear evidence” supporting the use of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii, in treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

The researcher noted that the right strain and dose of probiotics were important in reducing the incidence of AAD and Clostridium difficile-associated postantibiotic diarrhea.

Guarino and associates also reported there was “solid evidence” supporting the use of probiotics in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, but more studies were needed to determine the right dosing.

In their review of randomized control trials and meta-analyses, the authors suggested that the probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and Saccharomyces boulardii were most effective for preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) in children.

3. Probiotics may prevent infectious diarrhea and gastroenteritis

Probiotics may alleviate symptoms of digestive disturbance. Pic credit: Pixabay

Guandalini reported that Lactobacillus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii were most effective in treating acute watery diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Rotavirus is one of the most common causes of infectious diarrhea in children, according to Ciorba.

[Note: Most studies investigating the use of probiotics in preventing and treating diarrhea focussed on children, but the results may be indicative of general efficacy in adults, including women.]

Guarino and colleagues reported there was evidence that probiotics were effective for treating gastroenteritis and for supporting rehydration therapy in pediatric cases. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and Saccharomyces boulardii were the most effectivespecies for reducing the duration of acute gastroenteritis in children, according to the authors.

The most widely tested probiotics for treatment and prevention of acute infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses and bacteria) in infants and young children were Lactobacillus GG, Bifidobacterium lactis, alone or in combination with other probiotics, such as Streptococcus thermophilus, L. reuteri, L. rhamnosus, and L. acidophilus (Guandalini et al.).

The researcher reported that although evidence supporting the use of probiotics for treatment and prevention of acute infectious diarrhea was “modest,” a large trial in Poland provided “good evidence” of efficacy for Lactobacillus GG.

4. Probiotics, vaginal and urinary tract infections

Scientists are researching the use of probiotics to treat vaginal infections. Pic credit: Pixabay

Bacterial vaginosis (also known as vaginal dysbiosis) is the most common infection of the vagina in premenopausal women. It is associated with vaginal microbiota imbalance caused by the overgrowth of harmful microorganisms, such as Gardnerella vaginalis or Prevotella, relative to healthy vaginal bacteria, such as Lactobacillus.

Vaginal yeast infection (vulvovaginal candidiasis, VVC) is also caused by an imbalance between the fungus Candida and healthy bacteria in the vagina. Research studies have, therefore, focussed on the feasibility of treating bacterial vaginosis and vaginal yeast infections with probiotics.

However, there currently isn’t enough evidence supporting the use of probiotics to treat vaginal infections, and doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics and antifungal medication.

According to Cribby and colleagues, proposals that probiotic lactobacilli may be used to populate the vagina and prevent or treat bacterial vaginosis had good rationale but not enough research had been done on the efficacy of probiotic strains and species.

Buggio and associates also urged more high-quality research on the efficacy of probiotics for treating BV and VVC. Janneke van de Wijgert and co-workers recommended more studies to determine the efficacy of Lactobacilli-based vaginal probiotics.

However, Pino et al. suggested that L. rhamnosus TOM 22.8 strain may be administered orally or applied to the vagina to treat vaginal dysbiosis.

Cribby et al. also reported that a study found that weekly application of L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. fermentum B-54 to the vagina reduced UTI recurrences from an average of 6 to 1.6 per year.

5. Probiotics may alleviate the symptoms of IBS

Probiotics may help manage ‘leaky gut’ syndrome. Pic credit: The Tonik/Unsplash

Probiotics may alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), studies suggest.

According to Aragon and associates, recent studies indicated that probiotics may play an effective role in the management of IBS. However, the mechanisms for how probiotics reduced the symptoms of IBS were unclear.

A study by Whorwell and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of different doses — (1 x 10(6), 1 x 10(8), or 1 x 10(10), cfu/mL) — of freeze-dried, encapsulated Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 in women with IBS symptoms. They found that only the group that received a dose of 1 x 10(8) cfu for 4 weeks reported improvement in symptoms, such as abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, distension, and flatulence, compared with a placebo group.

Didari and associates also investigated the efficacy of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients and concluded that they reduced the severity of pain, distension, bloating, and flatulence. According to the authors, the results demonstrated the beneficial effects of probiotics in IBS patients compared with placebo.

A randomized controlled trial of the effect of probiotics on colonic transit and symptoms of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome by Kim and associates reported mixed results.

The authors found that VSL#3, a combination of strains and species of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Streptococcus salivarius ssp. thermophilus resulted in a “borderline significant” decrease in bloating, but there was no effect on gut transit and other individual symptoms of IBS.

They concluded that VSL#3 was promising in alleviating abdominal bloating in patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.

In a follow-up trial, Kim and associates reported that VSL# 3 reduced flatulence, slowed down colonic transit but did not alter overall function in patients with IBS.

Tsuchiya and coworkers tested SCM-III, a combination of 3 different strains (L. acidophilus, L. helveticus, and Bifidobacterium sp.). They reported an improvement in IBS symptoms in 80% of patients after 12 weeks. The symptoms evaluated included bloating, abdominal pain, and bowel habits.

6. Probiotics may reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease

Probiotics may reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. Pic credit: Martin Büdenbender/Pixabay

Probiotics may reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, some studies suggest.

Studies that implicated gut bacteria in the etiology of inflammatory bowel diseases led to attempts to treat the conditions by using probiotics to modify gut microflora.

Jonkers and colleagues reported that trials involving rectally administered lactobacilli in animals with experimental colitis yielded some positive results. The introduction of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v in mice prevented the onset of IBD and reduced the symptoms of colitis (Schultz et al., Mao et al.).

Treatment of human ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease patients with probiotics has also yielded positive results. Oral administration of L. casei GG (L. GG) stimulated mucosal IgA immune response in children with Crohn’s disease (Malin et al.).

The immunostimulatory effect of L. casei GG indicated that orally administered probiotics may reduce or prevent inflammatory damage to the gut caused by Crohn’s disease. The researchers thus concluded that probiotics may play an adjunct role in treating Crohn’s disease.

Malchow reported that treatment with prednisolone+E.coli for 12 months reduced the relapse rate of ulcerative colitis compared with prednisolone+placebo.

Gionchetti and associates performed a double-blind placebo-controlled study in which they treated pouchitis (inflammation of a pouch created during surgery to treat IBD) patients with remission using the multispecies formulation VSL#3. They found a significant reduction in relapse rate during the nine-month treatment period.

However, Jonkers et al. concluded that while the results from animal experiments were promising, the data from the human studies were limited due to methodological issues. They recommended more placebo-controlled and double-blind studies

7. Probiotics may help in managing ‘leaky gut’

Fermented foods such as tofu contain probiotics. Pic credit: Sherman kwan/Unsplash

“Leaky gut” syndrome is a condition characterized by an unhealthy inflamed gut lining with increased permeability. Increased permeability of the gut lining may allow partially-digested food, bacteria, and toxins to penetrate the intestinal wall causing further inflammation and changes in gut flora.

Some researchers suggested that bacteria and toxins may pass through the intestinal walls and beyond to cause acute or chronic diseases elsewhere in the body.

Studies suggested that increased intestinal permeability may indeed play a role in certain gastrointestinal tract conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. Studies also suggest increased intestinal permeability or “leaky gut” may be associated with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, type 1 diabetes.

It may also be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, allergies, asthma, obesity, and mental health conditions.

Probiotics may help alleviate the effects of “leaky gut” by preserving gut mucosal barrier function through protection, maintenance, and restoration (Rao et al.). The ability of probiotics to protect the gut mucosal barrier against injury and disruption by toxins, allergens, and pathogens may be mediated through regulation of intestinal homeostasis, cell proliferation, cell migration, generation of mucus, synthesis of proteins, gene expression, and reduction of oxidative stress.

The authors reported that probiotics, such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces may protect the gut mucosal barrier through competitive replacement of pathogens that bind to intestinal epithelial cells.

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including butyrate and histamine, are examples of metabolites and bioactive molecules produced by probiotics that may help protect intestinal epithelial cells and preserve mucosal barrier function. They may explain why probiotics have been found effective for relieving the symptoms of IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The improvement of gut function may improve the absorption of vitamin B12, especially in older adults.

8. May lower bacterial load in H. pylori infection

Probiotics may help clear bacterial infections. Pic credit: CDC via Unsplash

Homan and associates reported that the results of double-blind placebo-controlled studies indicated that certain probiotics, such as S. boulardii and L. johnsonni La1, may help reduce H. pylori bacterial load but not completely eradicate the infection.

They reported that supplementation with S. boulardii may play a role in concomitant therapy for H. pylori infection. They also noted that L. reuteri may be as effective as S. boulardii, but more studies were needed to confirm the suggestion.

Goderska and colleagues reported that an alternative therapy for H. pylori infection was needed due to the increasing incidence of resistance to antibiotics. Studies have implicated H. pylori in the development of peptic ulcers and gastric cancer. The researchers concluded that although they could not recommend probiotics as a single agent for eradicating H. pylori, they could play a role in adjunctive therapies and help improve eradiation rates.

9. May help in the weight loss programs

Probiotics may help in weight loss. Pic credit: Engin Akyurt/Pixabay

Probiotics may help in the regulation of body weight and prevention of obesity, studies suggest. They may also play a role in weight loss programs.

Animal and human studies have shown that synbiotics containing certain species or strains of probiotics (such as Bifidobacterium ) and prebiotics were effective for weight loss (Ferrarese et al.).

The researchers found that intake of L. gasseri was associated with weight loss. They noted that several studies have shown that supplementation with synbiotics containing probiotic strains (such as L. gasseri) and prebiotics was effective for weight management and prevention of inflammation.

According to the authors, overweight and obesity were associated with an altered gut microbiota composition.

Probiotics may modulate body weight and body mass index (BMI), according to Wiciński and associates. The authors noted that studies suggest a mix of strains was more effective for managing weight. Weight loss was also enhanced when synbiotics were used in conjunction with improved diet (such as DASH or Mediterranean diet) and physical exercise.

10. Probiotics may modulate the immune system

Probiotics may modulate the immune system. Pic credit: Pixababy

Studies show that probiotics may regulate the host’s immune system (Yan et al.). According to the authors, studies of the probiotic genome have identified some of the genes involved in the regulation of the host’s immune response.

However, more research was needed to explain the mechanisms.

Zhang and associates reported their study provided evidence that probiotic supplementation stimulates the immune system and reduces upper respiratory tract infection rates. The researchers concluded that probiotics were safe and effective for boosting resistance to common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections.

Klaenhammer and associates also reported that studies demonstrated that orally administered probiotic microorganisms can modulate immune function. Studies showed that certain strains and species of lactobacilli have specific immunomodulatory capacities. Klaenhammer cited a study by Link-Amster et al. that showed that orally administered L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria in fermented milk products stimulated a significant increase in total IgA specific for Salmonella typhi Ty21a.

11. May alleviate symptoms of atopic dermatitis

Research indicates that probiotics and prebiotics (follow this link to learn more about the difference between prebiotics and probiotics) may have use in treating atopic dermatitis (eczema), a common chronic inflammatory skin disease (Rusu et al.).

According to the authors, patients with atopic dermatitis have increased intestinal permeability and a reduction in cutaneous (skin) microbiome diversity. Probiotics may reduce the severity of the symptoms of atopic dermatitis by enhancing the barrier function of the intestinal mucosa. Enhancement of the intestinal barrier improves immune status and reduces the severity of the illness.

Diet supplementation with probiotics during pregnancy may prevent AD in infants (Pelucchi et al.). Prebiotics also promote the growth of “good” bacteria on the skin (Hui Lee et al.).

A meta-analysis by Doege and colleagues reported that multiple randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials suggested that supplementing with Lactobacilli during pregnancy prevented AD in children aged 2–7 years. Another meta-analysis by Garcia-Larsen and associates reported that trials indicated that probiotic consumption during late pregnancy and lactation period reduced the risk of atopic dermatitis in children under five years.

Different mixtures of probiotics have also been found effective for reducing the severity of atopic dermatitis symptoms in children and adults.

A mixture of different strains and species of probiotics, such as Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. breve, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, and L. salivarius, significantly reduced the severity of symptoms in children and adults (Iemoli et al., Drago et al.).

12. May lower the risk of cardiometabolic disorders

Probiotics may reduce the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Pic credit: Pixabay

Some studies indicate that probiotics may counter cardiometabolic syndrome risk factors (such as abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia) that predispose to cardiometabolic diseases, such as stroke, coronary heart disease (CHD), vascular health disorders, diabetes, kidney diseases, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Skonieczna-Żydecka and associates reported in a systematic review and meta-analysis that probiotics and synbiotics may reduce the risk of cardiometabolic disease in healthy individuals by counteracting cardiometabolic risk factors (CMRFs), such as BMI and waist circumference. However, overweight or obese individuals may get additional benefits by reducing total cholesterol levels.

Multiple studies suggested that synbiotics may have oxidative properties, antihypertensive, antiinflammatory, and antihypercholesterolemic properties (Oniszczuk et al.).

Regular intake of synbiotic yogurts may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in hypercholesterolemic patients (Mofid et al.). Hypercholesterolemic pigs fed a synbiotic mixture of L. acidophilus ATCC 4962, mannitol, inulin, and fructooligosaccharides had significantly lowered total cholesterol, triacylglycerol, and LDL-cholesterol levels. (Liong et al.).

Yao and associates reported that meta-analysis indicated that probiotics may reduce HbA1c, fasting blood glucose (FBG), and insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes. But they recommended more clinical data and research to clarify how probiotics help in lowering sugar levels.

Probiotics could play a supplementary role in the treatment of type 2 diabetes (Kocsis et al.). The authors reported that data analysis showed that probiotic supplements may alleviate dyslipidemia and promote better metabolic control. Treatment with probiotics significantly lowered total cholesterol, triglyceride levels, C-reactive protein (CRP), HbA1c, fasting plasma glucose (FBG), and fasting insulin levels.

Probiotics may also lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, it did not have a significant effect on body mass index (BMI) or LDL levels.

The researcher concluded that probiotic supplements benefited patients with type 2 diabetes.

13. May prevent colon cancer

Probiotics promote women’s health. Pic credit: Pixabay

Goldin and Gorbach reported an association between a probiotics-enriched diet and the incidence of colorectal cancer. They noted a high incidence of large bowel cancer among people on a diet high in beef and a low incidence among people, such as the Finns, who consumed more fermented dairy products and had larger average numbers of lactobacilli in their fecal flora.

The researchers reported that rats fed on a beef diet similar to the “Western” diet had higher rates of colon cancer than rats fed on grain (83% and 31%, respectively).

They reported that rats exposed to the carcinogen 1,2-dimethylhydrazine dihydrochloride but whose meat diets were supplemented with viable cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus were found to have a lower incidence of colon cancer.

Multiple studies have also found that several strains of probiotics, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, suppressed the proliferation of human colorectal and gastric carcinoma cells (Lee et al.) while others induced apoptosis (Baldwin et al.) in human colorectal cells (Śliżewska et al.).

Dietary synbiotics containing oligofructose-enriched inulin (SYN1), Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 reduced cancer risk factors in polypectomized patients (patients who have undergone surgery to remove polyps from inside the colon) and colon cancer patients (Rafter et al.).

Studies also suggest that some probiotics produce bacteriocins — such as lantionine (Lan), methyllantionine (MeLan), dehydroalanine (Dha), dehydrobutyrine (Dhb), and D-alanine (D-Ala) — that may inhibit the overgrowth of Fusobacterium (Drago).

The finding was significant because Fusobacterium has been identified as being overrepresented in colorectal cancer tissues. Although research is ongoing to determine the role that Fusobacterium plays in colorectal cancer, researchers have suggested that probiotics that inhibit Fusobacterium may provide an alternative to antibiotics and that it may help to reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer.

14. May improve lactose digestion

Oak and colleagues reported that probiotic bacteria in fermented and unfermented milk products may reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

According to Leis et al., probiotics may reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance. People with lactose intolerance may show no clinical signs and symptoms, such as bloating and diarrhea after ingesting dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheese) containing probiotic bacteria.

The reviewers concluded that probiotics reduced abdominal cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, and flatulence associated with lactose intolerance.

15. Probiotics and mental health

Probiotics may play a role in the treatment of mood disorders. Pic credit: Pixabay

Recent research suggests there is a link between gut health and mental health.

According to Dolan and associates, the vagus nerves connect the brain and the gastrointestinal system. The gut communicates more information to the brain than the brain with the gut, according to the authors. They explained that due to the bidirectional communication between the gut and brain, problems in the gut may affect the brain and neurotransmitter function, leading to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Wallace and Milev reported that advances in the field of research into the bidirectional communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system (the so-called “gut-brain” axis) suggested a link between psychiatric disorders and changes in the gut microbiota. The claimed their findings could lead to new therapies for depression and other mood problems.

In a separate study, Wallace and Milev reported evidence that probiotics may reduce symptoms in moderately depressed patients and that probiotic supplementation was safe and well-tolerated.

But the researchers cautioned in both studies that although there was compelling evidence that probiotics may alleviate depressive symptoms, more double-blind randomized control trials were needed to draw definite conclusions.

Chao et al. also reported that probiotics may reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to the researchers, although there wasn’t enough evidence that probiotics could be used to successfully treat depression, they could play adjunctive roles in treating mood and emotional disorders.

In 2016, Huang and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials about the efficacy of probiotics in treating mood and psychiatric disorders. The researchers concluded that probiotics significantly improved the symptoms of depression.
According to the authors, probiotics may significantly alleviate depression but there was a need for further research.

16. Probiotics may improve iron absorption in women

A study reported that Lactobacillus plantarum may improve intestinal iron absorption in iron-deficient female athletes. According to Axling and associates, L. plantarum 299v taken together with 20 mg of iron may improve iron status and vigor, compared with taking 20 mg of iron alone.

Foods that contain probiotics

The best natural sources of probiotics are fermented food products and beverages that contain live probiotic cultures, such as yogurts, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, tofu, kombucha, tempeh, kimchi, kefir, natto, and miso soup.

You may also get them from supplements served in the form of tablets, capsules, and powders.

Safety of probiotics supplements

Probiotics are generally safe but may cause mild reactions. Pic credit: mohamed Hassan/Pixabay

Probiotics are found naturally in your body and taking them through foods and supplements is generally safe.

Most side effects due to consumption of probiotic products are mild allergic reactions that may include gas, bloating, flatulence, and in a few cases diarrhea that lasts only for a short time.

However, experts warn that people with severe illness, immunocompromised individuals, and those who recently underwent surgery should exercise caution when taking probiotic products and supplements.

Some experts have also expressed concern about the increasing number of formulations containing various strains and species of probiotics that have not been carefully studied and characterized. Kothari et al. warned that widespread use of probiotics carried the risk of plasmid-mediated antibiotic resistance transfer to gut infectious pathogens.

Based on these expert cautions and warnings, we strongly advise that you consult your healthcare provider for guidance on the type of probiotics that is best for you.

What to look for when choosing a probiotic supplement

Yogurt is a good source of probiotics. Pic credit: ArtTower/Pixabay

When choosing a probiotic product, you need to check the label for the following relevant information:

1. Species or strain of probiotics

Look for information about the species and strain of probiotics in the product you want to purchase. Different strains of probiotics have different functions they are the best suited for.

So, when taking probiotics orally, you need to ensure that the strain of bacteria you are taking is the right one for your purpose. However, many probiotic formulations contain more than one species of probiotics or a mixture of strains of the same species that may have complementary or synergistic activity.

Generally, multispecies and multistrain probiotic formulations are highly recommended because they offer the advantage of the complementary or synergistic activity of several strains and species.

2. Number of live and active microorganisms in the culture

You must ensure that the food or supplement you are taking contains enough live, active and viable microorganisms. You should pay attention to the “best before” date of the product you are purchasing.

You also need to ensure that you are taking probiotic microorganisms that have been processed and preserved in a form that makes them capable of surviving the passage through the gastrointestinal tract to establish a functional colony of probiotics in your digestive tract.

This is an essential consideration because stomach acids may destroy a signficant proportion of the bacteria you ingest orally.

Most producers measure the number of live and active bacteria in their products in colony-forming units (CFU). CFU values for marketed probiotic products typically range from 1 billion to 10 billion units but some products may claim up to 100 billion units. The amount of CFUs you need depends on the strain and the purpose for which you are taking them.

Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best suited for your purpose.

Best probiotics for women’s health

Probiotics reduce symptoms of IBD. Pic credit: Pixabay

[Disclosure: Our website is supported by readers like you. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.]

This list includes only the best quality products that support your health. Read more about our process and commitment here.

We summarize manufacturers’ information about each product and list the specific conditions affecting women that each was formulated to address as per the manufacturer. We provide links so that you can fact-check manufacturers’ claims against scientific research evidence. We want you to be able to make an informed decision in consultation with your healthcare provider about which product is the best for you.

[Note: We strongly recommend that you consult our listicle 16 health benefits of probiotics for women. The listicle guides you to original research sources where you can fact-check the health benefit claims yourself.]

  1. Women’s Care Probiotics:

  • 30 capsules
  • Multistrain formulation: 12 Lactobacilli strains to reflect the natural diversity of your gut and support digestive health
  • Contains 25 billion cultures
  • Gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free
  • Shelf-stable: Refrigeration is recommended but not required

2. Physician’s Choice Women’s Prebiotics

  • 30 vegan capsules
  • Acid-resistant capsules to protect against stomach acid with delayed-release technology
  • Probiotic supplements for women
  • Multispecies and multistrain formulation: 6 probiotic strains (Lactobacillus Gasseri, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. casei, and Bifidobacterium Lactis)
  • Synbiotic formulation: Prebiotic + Probiotic with patented cranberry Extract
  • Contains proanthocyanidins – a cranberry antioxidant to protect urinary tract health
  • 50 Billion cfus and 6 probiotic strains
  • Promotes digestion and supports the immune system
  • Organic prebiotics: D-Mannose and ProCran
  • No dairy, soy, gluten, milk, egg, wheat, peanuts, or shellfish
  • Shelf-stable: No refrigeration required
  • No refrigeration required

3. Probiotic Pearls Women’s

  • 30 soft gels
  • Probiotics for women
  • Multistrain formulation: Lactobacillus
  • 1 billion probiotic cultures
  • Supports digestive health
  • Relieves bloating, constipation, and digestive discomfort.
  • Support vaginal and urinary tract health (Learn more about probiotics and vaginal health here)
  • No refrigeration required

4. Femometer Women’s Probiotic

  • Capsules protect against stomach acids
  • Probiotics for gut health
  • 60 billion CFU
  • 100% vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and NON-GMO.
  • Multispecies formulation: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
  • Multistrain: (10 strains) L. rhamnosus, B. lactis, L. acidophilus, L bulgaricus, B. longum, S. thermophilus, L. plantarum, L. casei, L. salivarius, B. bifidum
  • Synbiotic: Contains probiotics + prebiotics + Digestive Enzyme
  • Prebiotic fibers: Inulin (Organic Blue Agave Heart) and Jerusalem Artichoke Root to support probiotic growth (Learn more about prebiotics here)
  • Immune system and vaginal health support (Learn more about probiotics and vaginal health here)
  • Shelf-stable: 2 years shelf life when stored in a cool dry place

5. Women’s healthy balance

  • 30 capsules
  • Vegetarian
  • Probiotics for women
  • Multi-strain formulation: Contains LGG strains (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG)
  • No peanuts
  • Support digestive and immune health
  • Supports vaginal health (Learn more about probiotics and vaginal health here)

6. One Daily Women’s

  • 30 one daily capsules
  • Contains 50 billion CFU
  • Multi-species formulation: 16 probiotics for immune system health
  • Supports digestion
  • Contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria for digestive health and constipation relief
  • Contains L. reuteri and L. fermentum for vaginal health
  • Shelf-stable: No refrigeration required
  • Non-GMO Project Verified, NSF Certified Gluten-Free, dairy-free, soy-free and vegetarian

7. Doctor’s Recipes Women’s Probiotics

  • Probiotics for women
  • 60 capsules
  • Delayed-release delivery helps probiotics to survive stomach acid and reach your intestinal tract alive
  • 50 Billion CFU
  • Multi-strain formulation: 16 Strains
  • Organic prebiotics and cranberry: Prebiotics provide necessary nutrition for probiotics to thrive
  • Supports digestive health and immune system
  • Vaginal & Urinary Health: Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri may help boost a healthier vaginal flora and urinary tract
  • Shelf Stable,
  • Vegan-friendly, NON-GMO, no soy, gluten, and dairy

8. FEM-PRO Women’s  Women’s Daily Probiotics

  • Vegan probiotics
  • 59.5 Billion CFUs
  • Probiotics are encased in a delayed-release capsule to ensure they survive stomach acid reach your intestinal tract alive
  • Multi-strain formulation: 17 probiotic strains including L. plantarum for iron absorption and promoting a healthy weight
  • Organic prebiotics with inulin to support probiotics
  • Relieves pre- and post-menopausal symptoms
  • Strengthens immunity
  • Improves vaginal pH balance and urinogenital health
  • No fillers or artificial sweeteners
  • No refrigeration needed

9. Naturewise Time Release Probiotic Women’s Care

  • 6 billion CFU formula
  • Caplet technology protects probiotics from stomach acids and distributes live cultures throughout your intestines in a controlled time release over 8-10 hours
  • Multi-strain formulation: 8 strains, including Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Gut health and immune support
  • For vaginal health
  • Cranberry & D mannose for urinary tract health
  • Gut health and immune support
  • Non-GMO, vegetarian, gluten-free, contain no artificial additives, fillers, or binders
  • Shelf-stable: No refrigeration is needed

10. Probiotics for Women

  • Probiotics for Women
  • 60 tablets
  • Tablets feature 3-layer technology for protection against stomach acid, delayed-release and delivery system allows strains to survive stomach acid
  • 50 Billion CFU,
  • Multi-strain formulation: 14 strains
  • Multi-species: L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria
  • Supports Vaginal health: Contains L. reuteri and L. fermentum probiotics to support vaginal health.
  • Digestive health
  • Immune health
  • Prebiotic fiber
  • Shelf-stable
  • Gluten and soy-free 
  • No refrigeration is required

11. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics – Prenatal

  • 20 billion CFU once daily
  • Multi-strain: Contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria for digestive health
  • Support lactation, pregnancy, and immune system
  • No refrigeration required
  • Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and vegetarian
  • Non-GMO verified
  • Shelf-stable

12. Probiotics for weight loss support

  • 30 capsules
  • Multi-strain and multi-species formulation: L. gasseri, L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, and B. infantis.
  • Probiotics and organic prebiotics with natural EGCG green tea extract to boost antioxidants
  • Apple cider vinegar, digestive enzymes, and capsimax to promote weight loss
  • Acid-resistant coating to help safe passage through the GI system
  • Support digestive health
  • Prebiotics: Contains organic chicory root and organic Jerusalem artichoke

Probiotics vs. prebiotics

You may have heard the terms probiotics and prebiotics used together and wondered about the differences between the two.

Probiotics refer to the bacteria or yeast that live in your gut and may confer health benefits.

Prebiotics are substances that provide a substrate that supports the probiotics. Prebiotics stimulate the growth, proliferation, and activity of probiotics that colonize the intestine.

The main source of prebiotics is plant-derived non-digestible carbohydrates, known as oligosaccharides. They are found naturally occurring in plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, pulses, cereals, and dairy products.

Oligosaccharides include fructans (consisting of inulin and fructooligosaccharides) and galactooligosaccharides. Inulin, fructooligosaccharides, and galactooligosaccharides play beneficial roles in human beings. They stimulate the growth of probiotics in the gut.

Prebiotics are often added to probiotic products. A formulation consisting of a mixture of probiotics and prebiotics is referred to as a synbiotic product.

When probiotics such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus digest or ferment prebiotics in the gut, they yield health-promoting short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate. Studies have shown that butyrate promotes gut health. SCFAs may also be absorbed into the bloodstream to play health-promoting roles in other parts of the body.