Not all bacteria and microorganisms are harmful. In truth, there are millions of tiny bacteria that live in our digestive system which significantly contributes to our health.
According to NCCIH, bacteria that are typically present in our intestines help digest food, destroy disease-causing microorganisms, and produce vitamins. Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are similar to microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies.
Even though we already have our body’s natural defenses, there’s no harm in wanting to secure those benefits. This is the reason why more and more people are incorporating probiotic supplements into their everyday diet, especially women.
But how do you know what works best for your body? Is it safe to use even when you have pre-existing conditions? When is the proper time to take probiotics?
We asked experts to help us be more informed about the best probiotics for women and its many benefits.
Let’s find out:
Dr. David Heber, M.D. Ph.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.S.N.
Chairman, Herbalife Nutrition Institute
Modern women are leading stressful lifestyles, which can limit healthy eating habits and upset the digestive system. Research has pointed out that the microbiome is highly individual like the genome, and is influenced by diet and lifestyle. Probiotics have shown to help individuals who experience daily gut discomfort due to poor diet, an on-the-go busy lifestyle, lack of exercise, or stress which can upset the digestive system, including normal bowel function.
Consumers trying to maintain a healthy digestive system may also be concerned about the number of active bacteria that actually arrive at the site of action in the colon. Because bacteria are subject to being killed by the head during transportation or in the stomach acid once ingested, it’s important to ensure you’re absorbing enough to do the job.
Simply Probiotic is a science-backed, easy-to-use powder probiotic that delivers one billion active probiotic cultures per serving to support gut balance, and is designed to keep up with people’s busy lifestyles. It mixes easily with hot, cold or frozen foods and beverages, and is made with non-GMO ingredients.
We use a strain of bacteria called GanedenBC30®, which is naturally cultured in a way that it forms a protective coating that enables survival during passage through the stomach with evidence that the bacteria survive in the colon where they can promote digestive health.
Mary Jane Minkin, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Yale University
Many women do not realize how much vaginal pH can affect their health and can contribute to a host of issues if not kept in balance. The vagina is a delicate eco-system that needs to stay in balance in order to keep infections and other issues at bay.
The pH of the vagina should be acidic (and many women don’t realize that because everyone thinks “acid is bad” (like in the esophagus-with GERD)-but the vagina is happiest with a good acidic pH, which helps keep the nastier bacteria away.
A healthy vagina has lots of good lactobacilli there, making acid. If things do get a bit unbalanced (after a period, or sex)- or dryness – which can lead to a higher pH, a product like RepHresh can be very helpful. It is available over the counter and helps make the vagina more acidic again, which is good.
A healthy pH balance of a vagina is 3.5 – 4.5, representing a moist, slightly acidic area, which prevents the profusion of dangerous organisms that can cause disease, odor, irritation, and itching.
Bacteria like Garderella vaginalis and Escherichia coli can become overpopulated due to a variety of reasons, causing bacterial vaginosis (BV).
A pH imbalance can lead to more serious issues such as BV. But it is important not to treat BV the way you would treat a yeast infection.
Many women self-medicate with over-the-counter products that are actually ineffective in these cases. In fact, less than one-third of vaginal infections self-treated as yeast actually are yeast.
Over half of all vaginal infections are actually BV. If left untreated, BV can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, and even an increased risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and urinary tract infections.
BV can be serious, although vaginal yeast infections are not linked with any serious health risks. It is very important to check with your gynecologist or regular MD during your yearly OB/GYN examinations and ask for a BV screening.
Now that you are aware of your greater likelihood of having BV over yeast infections, it is critical to monitor and treat your chronic condition in close consultation with your doctor.
If you’re experiencing vaginal odor, it may be caused by a pH imbalance, which a douche won’t fix and, douching can actually do more harm than good.
Since water has a high pH level and given that douches are primarily water can make that funky smell worse. To balance your vaginal pH immediately following douching, try RepHreshGel to balance pH and eliminate odor-causing bacteria.
What can someone do to maintain vaginal health?
In order to maintain vaginal health, some good ideas are to keep hydrated, avoid using harsh soaps and cleansers, treat any infections if they arise, don’t let them linger as they can turn into something worse. Seeing your gynecologist for regular check-ups and following good vaginal hygiene are all great ways to maintain good vaginal health.
Taking a preventative vaginal probiotic such as RepHresh Pro-B- a vaginal probiotic with two strains of lactobacilli that help to maintain healthy vaginal flora on a regular basis.
Periodontist | Nutritionist | Author | Oral Health & Wellness Expert
More and more studies are coming out regarding the beneficial aspects of probiotics in women. In a current systematic review, it has been shown that Lactobacillus rhamnosus, salivarius, and bifidobacterium are beneficial in controlling insulin levels in pregnant women. This is especially important in women with gestational diabetes.
Also, lactobacilli are useful for women with a history of recurrent urinary tract infections, and especially women with prolonged use of antibiotics. I recommend at least 25 to 50 billion daily with different strains of lactobacilli.
A recent study published In Nutr Cancer 2019 evaluated the use of probiotics and breast cancer prevention, which is the most common cancer in women. The article presents animal studies in which treatment with probiotics inhibit growth and size. Human studies using Lactobacillus casei reduce the breast cancer incidence, and consumption of fermented milk products and yogurt was associated with less occurrence of breast cancer.
Several studies have shown that an intake of probiotics improves bone status in postmenopausal women. Lactobacillus reuteri is one of the strains that have been studied and shown to increase bone mineral density. This strain is found in Orasana probiotic mints. The mints also have other lactobacilli that have been shown to reduce the rate of inflammation AND cavities.
Lactobacillus brevis, plantarum, rhamnosus, reuteri and salivarius are all found in Orasana and they are Non-GMO, GF, no artificial flavors, preservative free, no magnesium stearate and no animal products.
Dr. Nirat Nibber, ND
Medical Advisor, AOR
Understanding the most appropriate vitamins and minerals to supplement can be a complex and overwhelming process. Choosing the right supplement requires an understanding of your body and it’s current needs, what vitamins and mineral deficiencies you may be at risk of developing, assessing your diet, genetics, and lifestyle to find the right forms and dosages.
Sounds overwhelming? It is. With all these considerations it’s very easy to fall prey to over-self-prescribing, under-dosing, or counteracting with opposing supplements – leaving you with some expensive urine with very little benefits.
Within our GI tract lays a rich and complex composition of micro-organisms that have set up residence. These microorganisms (bacterial species) help us digest our food, process our toxins, regulate our immune function and so much more.
The composition of this population of bacteria can mean the difference between optimal health and chronic illness. Suffice to say we want to populate our fertile GI landscape with the best bacterial “seeds.” Try AOR’sProbiotic 3.
Clinically Proven Probiotic Formula
- Supports a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
- Supports digestion and immunity.
- Promotes a healthy gut flora.
Functional and Integrative Dietitian | Author | Speaker
I recommend Megasporebiotic (Microbiome Labs), which contains 5 Bacillus spores. Spore-based probiotics are superior for many reasons. They survive stomach acidity because they stay dormant until they reach the large intestine. In the large intestine, where conditions are optimal for them to thrive, the spores open and recondition the gut by promoting diversity and growth of the strains that your body needs and the ones you’re born with, rather than strains created outside your body in a lab.
Traditional probiotics (lactobacillus and bifido) don’t survive the harsh environment of the digestive tract and may not even make it to the large intestine alive. Even if they do, because they’re foreign to your own microflora, they may not colonize the gut and any benefit they offer is only short lived. These may be the reasons many studies find that probiotic supplements aren’t helpful.
In addition, Megasporbiotic has been found to reduce LPS level, a toxin produced by certain bacteria in the gut that causes inflammation and immune response. High level of LPS may be linked to autoimmune diseases, which are more common in women than men.
I also like Megasporebiotic because it doesn’t require refrigeration and won’t interfere with antibiotic treatment, botanical antimicrobial treatments, or SIBO protocol. I’ve used it in along with S. Boulardii to help my patients with candida or recurrent yeast infections with success.
The other benefit of Megasporebiotic is that it’s safe for women with histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance is more common in women than men because it correlates with estrogen. The more estrogen a woman makes, the more histamine her immune cells will release, and the worse her symptoms will be.
Symptoms of histamine intolerance are headaches, itchy and red skin, anxiety, congestion, post nasal drip, stomach pain, diarrhea, and period cramps. If they get worse at ovulation or right before her period, I suspect histamine and estrogen interacting.
Certain lactobacillus specifies increase histamine levels in the body, and because Megasporebiotic contains no lactobacillus, it will not worsen histamine symptoms.
Many of patients reported worsening of their headaches, stomach issues, or rashes when they introduced probiotics, and that often makes me suspect histamine.
Nutrition and Wellness Consultant | Founder & CEO, sho Nutrition
While most people can benefit from adding probiotics to their diets, probiotics can especially be helpful for women. In addition to promoting regularity, reducing bloating, and improving immunity, probiotics can also support vaginal balance, urinary tract health, and skin health.
Women tend to have more urinary tract infections (UTI) than men do. Urinary tract infection occurs when infectious bacteria manage to reach the urethra and the bladder. Women tend to suffer more from UTI more frequently because they have shorter urethras compared to men.
Bacteria cause these structures to swell and this explains the typical incomplete urine emptying and dribbling symptoms of UTI. According to many studies, one of the better alternatives for maintaining urinary tract health is taking probiotics. Studies have shown that having plentiful good bacteria in your vagina reduces the number of infectious bacteria and lowers the likelihood of infection.
Regular use of probiotics and improved digestive and urinary tract health helps prevent other conditions more common for women, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and bacterial vaginosis.
Probiotics use can also help improve skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, which can flare from the proliferation of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. A recent clinical study on Lactobacillus, the probiotics strain in sho Balance, saw that regular use increased skin moisture retention resulting in improved skin barrier function and skin texture, with decreased occurrence of acne.
Lactobacillus Casei K-1 at 100mg / 100 billion CFU per dose is chosen for sho Balance because it has been extensively researched in Japan and proven to be effective, safe, and suitable for all lifestyles including a vegan diet, thanks to its potent detox effects sourced from fermented rice, with no dairy or other common allergens.
Selected from over 300 types of bacteria identified in fermented rice, Lactobacillus Casei K-1 was selected as the winner for commercial applications (by the criteria of stability and resistance to digestive acid and bile, anti-mutagenesis effect, no gas byproduct in the process, taste for food products, fermentation speed, etc.).
For its clinically proven benefits on digestion and detoxification, resulting in improved gastrointestinal and urinary tract health, Lactobacillus such as in sho Balance vegan probiotics is an excellent choice for women.
Doctor of Pharmacy | Author
Probiotics are a combination of live bacteria and yeast that are generally viewed as not being pathogenic, or known to cause disease in the human intestinal tract. The probiotics sold today contain a combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium which are both bacteria and saccharomyces boulardii that is yeast.
All of the available products have different strains of these type of bacteria or yeast. They also contain different dosages typically noted in CFU’s which stand for colony forming units. There have been many studies on the effectiveness of probiotics for multiple indications.
The most common include travelers diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, IBS, Clostridium difficile infection, atopic dermatitis, anxiety, and some other inflammatory conditions.
No clear winner has emerged and comparative studies are still needed to understand which product could be considered “best’ for each indication. What is clear is that as an adjunct to other treatments probiotics provide a beneficial effect, but are not first-line treatments for these conditions.
Additionally, if a patient is immune compromised they should use caution taking probiotics and make sure they confer with their doctor as the risk of infection exists in those cases. There are a few products which have sufficient clinical evidence of producing a positive effect on antibiotic-associated diarrhea in randomized clinical trials. Those are BioGai, Culturelle, Florastor, Danactive. The manufacturer recommended dosing for these should be followed to obtain the desired effect.
CEO & Entrepreneur, Omax Health
Probiotics are necessary for maintaining health and wellness throughout your entire body. Women in particular benefit from taking probiotics due to the natural changes their bodies experience over the course of a lifetime and the way these changes can disrupt the microbial balance that keeps women healthy.
Taking probiotics can help regulate imbalances throughout the body. Probiotics are instrumental in regulating the health of one of the most delicate and unique systems in the female body: the vagina. There are two major groups of probiotics: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Generally speaking, the “L’s” are for the ladies, as Lactobacilli make up the majority of the microbial ecosystem in the vagina. Because this vaginal ecosystem can be disrupted quite easily by other health and external factors, it’s important to find ways to regulate this ecosystem and keep the microbiota present in balance through probiotics.
Each strain of probiotic brings a special health benefit to the body, therefore women should choose a multi-strain probiotic that helps cover all the bases. There are a few probiotic strains that you should always look for on the supplement facts panel. Lactobacillus acidophilus is #1 – it’s a probiotic for natural treatment of bacterial vaginosis and helps support immunity, but there are others to look for as well.
Lactobacillus casei is for immunity, Lactobacillus Plantarum helps reduce flatulence (yes!) and can help minimize post-operative infections, Lactobacillus rhamnous is for optimal immunity and helps support GI inflammation (if you want a flat belly!), Lactobacillus Bulgaricus is effective against antibiotic-induced diarrhea and helps support immunity, and Lactobacillus reuteri is the beauty probiotic that helps support anti-inflammation, and helps promote skin and hair resilience.
One last thing when searching for the best women’s probiotic is to make sure it includes a prebiotic, such as chicory root fiber in the supplement. This added prebiotic ingredient acts as a food for good bacteria in the body and increases the strength of your probiotic in the body.
This is an awesome probiotic: