Probiotics for Women: What are the Benefits?

Curious about probiotics benefits for women? Find out how taking probiotics can help vaginal health and more.

Probiotics basics

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I get asked a lot about probiotics.

They’re one of the most-consumed dietary supplements out there, with 4 million U.S. adults and 300,000 children using probiotics or prebiotics within the last 30 days, per the National Health Interview Survey.

Did you know probiotics are alive? Yup, they’re living microorganisms, aka beneficial bacteria, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Almost countless types of probiotics exist, and specific strains can have different impacts on your body and your health.

In fact, probiotics may help everything from your gut health to your immune system to women’s health (ahem, vaginal health). How cool is that? Yup, there really are probiotics benefits for women!

How to get probiotics

Now that you’ve learned a bit about what probiotics are, you might be wondering how you can get probiotics into your body.

Before we talk more about probiotics benefits for women let’s chat briefly about food sources of probiotics. Certain foods such as kefir, yogurt containing live and active cultures, and unpasteurized sauerkraut contain probiotics.

These foods are wonderful to incorporate into a balanced diet, and I often eat these foods. However, probiotics are one area in which I don’t necessarily take a food-first mentality.

This is because many people who have particular health concerns may benefit from particular strains of probiotics, and it’s difficult to regularly consume foods that contain those particular strains and benefits.

For instance, I take a daily women’s health probiotic to help support vaginal health in addition to getting immune and digestive health benefits.

So you should know that if you’re looking to support a particular area of your health—such as immune health, digestive health, women’s health, men’s health, or something else—you may want to look into taking a daily probiotic that can help with those areas of your health.

The benefits of women’s probiotics

Women’s probiotics boast specific probiotics benefits for women. These probiotics not only offer digestive health benefits, they also benefit vaginal health.

This means that women’s probiotics can help reduce the risk of both yeast infections as well as urinary tract infections. This is a huge benefit.

These probiotics can also help lower the risk of bacterial vaginosis.

Now, let’s take a look at Fortify Women’s Daily Probiotic 30 Billion as an example.

The women’s probiotic supplies probiotic strains specifically researched to help support women’s health, including vaginal health.

These strains include Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14—as well as HOWARU Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001. The probiotic contains strains that support digestive balance and immune health.

Top down view of a cup of tea with a probiotic pill and slippers on a marble surface

Shopping for probiotics

When you’re shopping to get probiotics benefits for women, you’ll want to take these tips into account.

Third-party verification

You’ll want to purchase a product that’s third-party verified, meaning that the probiotic has been tested to ensure that it contains what it says it does. Common third-party verifiers are USP and NSF International.

Purchase a product that lists genus, species, and strain

By now, you know that not all probiotic supplements are created equally. When selecting a probiotic, one clue of a reputable brand is if a product lists the genus, species, and strain of the probiotics contained within a product.

This is key for getting the most probiotics benefits for women that you possibly can.

I know I probably just confused the heck out of you, so let’s backtrack for a moment! Let’s use Fortify Women’s 50 Billion Probiotic as an example.

On the supplement facts label on the back of the product, you’ll see a whole bunch of probiotics listed. Near the top, you’ll see Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37®.

In this case, Lactobacillus is the genus, paracasei is the species, and Lpc-37 is the strain.

When it comes to probiotic genera, seven main types exist that are most often included in OTC probiotics.

These include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Bacillus, according to the NIH.

The benefits of probiotics are due to the particular species and strain, and transparency is of key importance so you know exactly what you’re consuming.

If you feel like sleuthing, you can look up the benefits of specific strains on sites such as PubMed.

Choose a product that lists CFUs

Probiotics contain CFUs, or colony-forming units. Say what? These measure the number of viable cells or bacteria in a product, according to the NIH.

When you see a “30 billion” or “50 billion” on a probiotic supplement’s label, that’s referring to the CFUs contained within a serving of probiotics.

Here’s something important you need to know about CFUs: Depending on the brand you choose, the number of CFUs listed on the bottle may be essentially meaningless—or not.

Current regulations surrounding probiotic labeling only require a manufacturer to list the cellular mass of microorganisms on its label.

However, these cells can be living or dead, meaning manufacturers aren’t required to guarantee potency through expiration, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Obviously, dead microorganisms aren’t going to benefit you, as you must consume probiotics that are alive to get all those probiotics benefits for women.

That said, you may be able to find information on either a product’s label or a brand’s website regarding CFU labeling.

Aim to look for a product labeled with the number of CFUs that will be available at a product’s expiration date, versus the time of manufacturing.

Probiotics to try

When it comes to probiotics benefits for women, you’ll want to purchase a reliable supplement. Here are a few to consider purchasing.

Fortify Women’s 50 Billion Probiotic

Ladies, if you’re looking for an everyday probiotic to benefit your digestive, immune, and vaginal health, here’s the supplement for you.

Not only does this probiotic boast the doctor-preferred probiotic strain for regularity, you also get a guarantee of 50 billion active cultures per capsule.

The probiotic strains include HOWARU Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, Bifidobacterium lactis BL-04, HOWARU Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001,  and Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14, which support digestive, immune, and women’s health.

Bonus: You get chicory root fiber in this formula, which act as a food source for good bacteria.

Metagenics UltraFlora Women

This probiotic benefits women who are prone to vaginal infections or urinary tract infections. The blend of probiotics helps you maintain healthy vaginal flora.

Jarrow Formulas Fem Dophilus

This probiotic boasts multiple benefits for women. It contains L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14, both of which are evidenced-based probiotic strains for women’s urogenital health.

Fortify Optima Women’s 90 Billion Probiotic

Talk about a super-powered priotic! This product is specially formulated for women’s health—and contains 90 billion live probiotic cultures per capsule.

The probiotic strains include Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14, HOWARU Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and HOWARU Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04 and HOWARU Bifidobacterium lactis HN019.

The supplement is especially beneficial for gut health, as well as immune and vaginal health.

It also contains plant-based prebiotics: blue agave inulin, chicory root, and gum acacia fiber. These act as food sources for good bacteria.

Jarrow Formulas Jarro-Dophilus Women

This is another women’s probiotic made by Jarrow. It contains different strains than Fem-Dophilus. If you’re going to try one of Jarrow’s products, typically either the Fem Dophilus or the Jarro-Dophilus will work better for you––it’s very individualized.

Final thoughts

When you’re looking for probiotics benefits for women, you can get digestive benefits as well as help with decreasing your risk of urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis.

Sources

This content was previously part of a partnership with Fortify Probiotics.

Supplements |

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