As we learn more about the ways our body works with medical progression, we’ve come to understand the importance of healthy bacteria in our gut.
Even if you’ve never taken probiotics it’s likely that you’ve heard of them.
Probiotics have loads of health benefits, especially for women. This article will explain the best probiotics for specific concerns and answer a few commonly asked questions.
Full disclosure: I decided to put this together after my local pharmacy in Bristol told me that when taking a course of antibiotics for a UTI, I ought to also take probiotics. This seemed to work and got me interested in the topic.
Whether you’re thinking of taking them or just want to know a bit more about them – I hope this guide helps!
Best All Round Probiotics For UK Women
Garden Of Life Raw Probiotics
Designed specifically for women’s unique needs, these raw probiotics by Garden Of Life are formulated to support digestive function, immune health, nutrient absorption and vaginal and thyroid health – that’s quite a package!
This is more of a ‘one fits all’ if you want a probiotic that does everything. For more specific ones, try further down this list.
These contain over 85 billion live cultures, with 32 probiotic strains – a higher CFU (colony-forming unit) count than most.
One woman commented in the reviews that she’d been off work with an upset stomach for 6 weeks, and after taking these she finally felt ‘normal’ again.
Another commented that she’d been suffering from low energy levels after being on antibiotics, but she has felt her energy levels boosted back up.
Many probiotics for women are targeted at one specific concern, but these target any issue you may have as well as containing your daily dose of vitamins, too.
The dosage includes vitamin C, D, E and B12 – along with many others, so you can ditch those daily multivitamins in favour of one capsule.
The recommended serving size is 3 capsules a day, so you can take one with each meal to ensure that you don’t forget a dose.
Unusually, the capsules can be separated and the contents poured into a drink, so if you’re someone who isn’t a fan of swallowing pills, don’t let that put you off as the probiotics will still work the same using this method.
- Vegetarian friendly
- Gluten free
- Addresses more than once concern, from vaginal health to digestive function
- Promote healthy bacteria in the gut
- 3 month supply (90 capsules at 3 a day)
- Higher CFU than other probiotics
- Added vitamins
- Free from fillers
- Some of the probiotics are histamine producers – so not for you if you’re histamine intolerant!
Best Probiotics For Women with Candida (Thrush) or UTIs
Optibac for Women
OptiBac for Women is the probiotic I chose. It’s a natural probiotic specifically designed to promote your intimate health.
It’s suitable for women in all stages of life, even those during pregnancy and menopause.
It comes in an easy to swallow capsule that contains 2.3 billion live cultures that reach the vagina alive and also stay alive in the capsule until the expiry date – without the need for refrigeration!
Before we get into how these probiotics can help with thrush, UTIs, pH balance and BV it’s important to note that all of these intimate health issues are common, normal and nothing to be embarrassed about.
Once I got over the embarrassment, I had a longer chat with the pharmacist than with my doctor!
You should consult your GP if they are recurring as they could be a sign of another health issue.
Probiotics can help to manage these issues as they contribute to optimising the healthy bacteria in your vagina and maintain a healthy biome.
The OptiBac probiotics contain both Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 that are found naturally in the vagina and normally keep the amount of Candida albicans under control.
If these bacteria levels are disrupted in some way, perhaps through the use of certain soaps, and can no longer control the growth of Candida that thrush, pH imbalance and UTIs can begin to arise.
When taken in a probiotic form, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 have been shown to have antifungal properties can also lower the pH balance within the vaginal tract to around pH4, creating an inhospitable environment for Candida and limit its growth.
These strains have also been found to adhere themselves to the vaginal lining to create a barrier and limit the amount of space and nutrients available for Candida – thus again limiting its growth.
Therefore, taking these probiotic supplements can reduce the risk of thrush, fungal UTIs and can also maintain a healthy vaginal pH balance – as the normal range is between pH 3.8 and pH 4.5.
Maintaining a normal pH balance can also reduce the risk of unhealthy bacteria growing as having a higher pH can raise the risk of you developing these infections.
Opitbac capsules are pretty small – see pic above – so if you find it hard to swallow larger capsules, you shouldn’t have any problems with these (at least I didn’t!):
One woman stated that within 3 days of taking these probiotics her BV and cystitis symptoms cleared up, she stopped taking them and they returned, so it’s clear that they can potentially help in maintaining intimate health.
- Don’t need refrigerating
- Small capsules
- Free from preservatives, flavourings and colourings
- Suitable for women in all life stages
- Cultures are clinically proven to reach the vagina alive
- Help prevent a variety of intimate health issues
- Can be used intermittently or long term
- Only 14 capsules in a pack
Best Probiotics For Women’s Digestive Health or Weight Loss
If you’re looking for a probiotic to aid your digestion, then these advanced, multi-strain probiotics by Bio-Kult may help.
They contain 14 strains of live bacteria that complement the natural flora within your gut and help you to break down fibre that can cause discomfort and bloating, especially if you’re a sufferer of IBS.
One woman who has suffered with IBS for many years said that these probiotics have practically eased all her symptoms.
There is also evidence to suggest that taking probiotics such as these that contain Lactobacillus can help inhibit the absorption of fat from your diet, thus possibly helping you to lose that stubborn belly fat as long as they are taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise.
Probiotics can also affect the hormones and proteins that are related to appetite and fat storage, as they can trigger the release of the hormone that makes you feel full – ensuring that you won’t overeat.
Having increased levels of this hormone in your system may help you to burn more calories and fat.
These capsules are great to take if you’re on a course of antibiotics to ensure that you don’t suffer with any stomach issues once you come off of them.
You can also take them with you if you’re planning on going travelling and experiencing different foods, they’ll balance your gut to help prevent you getting ill – they don’t need to be kept in the fridge either so you can keep them in your luggage without fear of disrupting the live cultures!
- Vegetarian friendly
- Helps with digestive issues
- May help with weight loss
- No need to refrigerate
- Easy to swallow, can be pulled apart if you don’t like swallowing pills
- Used by the NHS
- Contains dairy and lactose, it’s said that the amount contained should not affect lactose intolerance sufferers, but take with caution
- Some of the probiotics contained within the capsules can produce a histamine effect
Are Probiotics Good For Women’s Health?
Probiotics are especially beneficial for digestive health, helping issues such as constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating which plague mainly women as apparently we’re more prone to stress!
As mentioned previously, they’re also great to restore the healthy bacteria within your vagina and help combat thrush, BV and pH levels that can be thrown off balance by changes in your routine.
There’s also evidence to suggest that taking probiotics as part of your daily routine may help with fertility and increase your chances of getting pregnant, so if you’re trying to conceive they’re definitely something worth looking into.
Of course, everyone is different, with different levels of bacteria and flora in their body, and something that worked for your bestie may not necessarily work for you.
However, so many people have found many benefits from taking probiotics for a variety of different reasons – if you have an issue that’s plaguing you or just want to make your body the best it can be then probiotics may be worth a try.
Can A Man Take Women’s Probiotics?
Men and women have different health needs, but there’s not a whole load of studies on the effects of probiotics and sex differences.
Research does suggest that probiotics have a positive impact on immunity, skin clarity, brain health and gut health and women and men experience these things differently.
Women tend to experience more digestive health issues compared to men, such as IBS and bloating.
Women are also more likely to experience stress and experience both physical and emotional symptoms in relation to this, from headaches and toilet troubles to random emotional events.
Probiotics can help with all of these issues, and some studies have even shown that they can help reduce cortisol levels – which increases when we experience stress.
Of course, probiotics are linked to vaginal health and the reduction of overgrowth of Candida that can cause unwanted infections – something that men don’t experience, so there’s no use in men taking probiotics to help with this.
Both men and women can benefit from probiotics, but without definitive research it’s probably best to stick to the ones marketed for your sex specifically.
It’s clear to see that probiotics can have a positive impact on our health and I hope that this article has cleared up any questions you may have.
Remember, everyone’s body is unique so just because one specific product doesn’t work for you – doesn’t mean that something else won’t.
Take the time to work out what your body needs and enjoy the way probiotics can make you feel. If you have any concerns, it’s always best to speak to your doctor.