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Probiotics are becoming an increasingly common fixture in supplement cabinets to improve digestion—but did you know that they can also target women-specific health concerns, like yeast infections and vaginal health?
In addition to the critical job of supporting the gut microbiome, beneficial bacteria can also help balance the vagina microbiome to protect against dreaded infections like bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections—and supplemental probiotics like these are one way to do so.
Best Overall: Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Vaginal Care Shelf-Stable
A high potency formula specifically targeting vaginal and urinary tract health, this shelf-stable supplement made from whole food ingredients is one of the best probiotics for women’s health.
General women’s health; Immune and digestive support; Vaginal health
50 billion CFUs from 16 strains; Prebiotic fiber
$42.99 for 30 servings
Although it can be tricky to navigate the hundreds of probiotic supplements lining the aisles (virtual or otherwise), we’ve got you covered with the seven best probiotics for women and why we chose them.
Best Overall: Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Vaginal Care
The bacterial strains in this supplement are thought to promote yeast balance, vaginal health, and urinary tract function.
Uniquely, it also contains the yeast-digesting enzymes cellulase, hemicellulase, and lysozyme, which help to break down yeast cell walls and prevent yeast infections.
Plus, this Garden of Life probiotic utilizes an Eastern European wild kefir culture that provides dozens of beneficial probiotic strains and a fruit and vegetable blend of red bell pepper, green pea, carrot, plum, cherry, strawberry, and raspberry.
Best for Vaginal Care on a Budget: Nature’s Way Women’s Probiotic
These delayed-release capsules ensure that the probiotics reach where they need to—the large intestine—without being first killed off by the harsh acidity of the stomach.
Some prominent bacterial species found in this supplement include a high ratio of Lactobacilli to promote vaginal health and Bifidobacteria, which are incredibly beneficial bacteria for supporting digestive function.
The Nature’s Way probiotic utilizes 100% HDS—human digestive strains—which have been isolated from natural human intestinal microbiota (as opposed to being isolated from animals, plants, dairy, or soil), so they are already adapted to thrive in the human gut.
Best for General Health: Nordic Naturals Probiotic Daily
This supplement contains 12 billion CFUs, including the first commercialized probiotic for dietary supplements, Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1, combined with the prebiotic fiber FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide).
The combination of prebiotics and probiotics is beneficial because prebiotics are fibrous carbohydrates that good bacteria require to grow and thrive—without prebiotics in the gut, supplemental probiotics won’t be able to “take hold” and survive.
Although this supplement isn’t explicitly targeted to women, the probiotic species in it are helpful for digestive health, which females are more likely to have issues with.
For example, two out of three IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) sufferers are female, and probiotics, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, are beneficial for mitigating IBS symptoms.
Best for Chronic Yeast Infections: Flora Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotic
Probiotics targeted to maintain healthy yeast balance
Affordable option (if taking one per day)
CFUs coming from fewer strains than other brands
Best for: Women with recurring yeast or vaginal infections.
With 42 billion viable probiotic cells at the time of manufacturing, the Flora Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotic lives up to its “high potency” name—plus, it guarantees a minimum of 25 billion viable cells per capsule by the expiration date.
This supplement contains eight probiotic strains from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families, which are thought to support vaginal and digestive health.
The higher concentration of L. acidophilus was designed to help maintain proper yeast balance in the body, translating to a more acidic vaginal pH that fights against pathogenic species.
Research has shown that a combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria—both of which are found in the Flora Super 8 probiotic—inhibited the activity of pathogens responsible for the vaginal infections of bacterial vaginosis (BV) and aerobic vaginitis.
Best Women’s Prebiotic Plus Probiotic: Solaray Women’s Formula
This supplement contains 24 bacterial strains and prebiotic fiber that supports the viability of healthy probiotics.
One of the prominent probiotics in this supplement is Lactobacillus plantarum, which has been found to improve vaginal colonization of lactic acid bacteria—thereby lowering vaginal pH—which may be able to prevent yeast infections.
Best Money Can Buy: Hi-Health Chime Probiotics Women’s Formula
One of the prominent strains in this supplement is Lactobacillus reuteri, a beneficial bacteria linked to vaginal health.
These capsules are coated with gellan gum, which protects the probiotics from being killed off in the stomach’s acidic environment by forming a gel barrier that breaks down after it passes into the large intestine.
The healthy bacteria will be able to travel to the lower gut due to this delayed-release gellan gum-coated capsule, where they can then be colonized in the intestinal environment with the addition of prebiotic fibers.
Best Combination Formula: Garden of Life Once Daily Women’s
Helps with a wide variety of women’s health concerns
A bit pricey
Best for: Those wanting all-around, high-potency support for multiple women’s health issues.
Designed just for women, the Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotic was created by board-certified neurologist and gut microbiome expert Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D. to target vaginal, immune, and digestive health.
This once-daily supplement has 50 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of beneficial bacteria made up of 16 probiotics, including Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus fermentum, two documented probiotic species for women’s health.
It also contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, another well-researched probiotic species for maintaining a healthy vaginal balance.
Researchers think these three Lactobacillus species can stick to vaginal surfaces, making it more difficult for harmful bacteria to grow and spread, leading to better vaginal health.
Lactobacillus bacteria can flourish in the anaerobic (oxygen-lacking) vaginal environment, producing antimicrobial compounds like lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide and lowering the vaginal pH to fight harmful microbes.
Further, the 16 probiotic species in this supplement are also linked to digestive and immune system health.
What Are Probiotics?
As far back as the 1600s, renowned scientists like Antonie van Leeuwenhoek changed the world by first viewing bacteria under a microscope.
But despite the pioneering discoveries of these early microbial researchers, he and other fathers of microbiology viewed bacteria primarily as disruptive and disease-causing.
Only in the past two decades or so have we truly begun to understand how much we need microbes—especially in our guts—and how poorly we feel when we don’t have adequate amounts and diversity of them.
One way to support our the diversity and strength of our gut microbiomes is with probiotics.
With the name probiotic meaning “for life,” probiotics are healthy bacteria that benefit the host when consumed.
The five-foot-long tube in our lower guts known as the large intestine (or colon) can house upwards of 100 trillion microbes comprising thousands of species ranging from harmful to neutral to beneficial.
Although everyone is different, it’s often recommended that adults take probiotics daily, especially if you have symptoms or concerns about your digestive, immune, or vaginal health.
What is the Best Time of Day to Take a Women’s Probiotic?
Typically, the best time to take a probiotic is first thing in the morning before eating or just before going to sleep at night—as long as you hadn’t eaten dinner just prior.
Probiotics tend to be the most effective when taken on an empty stomach because your stomach acid levels are naturally lower and will allow the bacteria to travel to the large intestine safely.
What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics?
There are many potential signs that you might need supplemental probiotics, including any digestive concerns, poor immunity or getting sick constantly, mood disorders, acne or other skin issues, or frequent urinary tract, yeast, or vaginal infections.
How Long After Taking Probiotics Will I Notice a Difference?
This answer will vary from person to person.
If you’re typically sensitive to supplements or have severe gut issues, you may notice a difference within a few days.
For example, one review of studies found that people experiencing diarrhea had symptom relief within two days of probiotic treatment.
However, most people will take two to three weeks to notice a significant difference when taking probiotics, as the healthy bacteria need time to balance out the unhealthy bacteria and proliferate in their new environment.
This was seen in a study of people with constipation, where the participants began to see symptom improvement after two weeks of adding probiotics to their diet.
Although probiotic supplements can benefit most people, women can require different strains of bacteria than men to target female-specific health concerns.
Probiotics for women can help balance the vaginal microbiome and pH, which protects against infections like bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections.
Allen SJ, Martinez EG, Gregorio GV, Dans LF. Probiotics for treating acute infectious diarrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;2010(11):CD003048. Published 2010 Nov 10. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003048.pub3
Bertuccini L, Russo R, Iosi F, Superti F. Effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus acidophilus on bacterial vaginal pathogens. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2017;30(2):163-167. doi:10.1177/0394632017697987
Chee WJY, Chew SY, Than LTL. Vaginal microbiota and the potential of Lactobacillus derivatives in maintaining vaginal health. Microb Cell Fact. 2020;19(1):203. Published 2020 Nov 7. doi:10.1186/s12934-020-01464-4
Chen X, Lu Y, Chen T, Li R. The Female Vaginal Microbiome in Health and Bacterial Vaginosis. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021;11:631972. Published 2021 Apr 7. doi:10.3389/fcimb.2021.631972
Koebnick C, Wagner I, Leitzmann P, Stern U, Zunft HJ. Probiotic beverage containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with chronic constipation. Can J Gastroenterol. 2003;17(11):655-659. doi:10.1155/2003/654907
Vladareanu R, Mihu D, Mitran M, et al. New evidence on oral L. plantarum P17630 product in women with history of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC): a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2018;22(1):262-267. doi:10.26355/eurrev_201801_14128
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