Bacteria often have a negative connotation, but not all bacteria are bad. In fact, it’s important to have a healthy balance of bacteria in your body. The good bacteria can directly affect important processes, such as your digestive system and reproductive system, vaginal health, and affect things like skin health and appearance. Probiotic supplements are great way to increase the presence of these positive bacteria as well as strengthen them to overpower bad, illness-causing bacteria.
There are quite a few types of probiotic supplements on the market right now, which makes choosing a daunting task. The following supplements are some of the best available, and have been reviewed and catalogued to make it easier for you to find the probiotic supplement that works best for your needs.
Top Choices for Probiotic Supplements in Women’s Health
- Pro-Fem: Best for Vaginal Health
- Probiotic 40-Billion: Best for digestive health (including IBS)
- Microbiome Plus+: Best for cholesterol control
- Omni-Biotic Stress Release: Best for stress management
The Good Stuff: An In-Depth Dive into the Five Top-Rated Probiotic Supplements in Women’s Health
Now that you’ve got a clear picture of probiotics and how they should be analyzed, here is a list of some of the most effective probiotics that can give you the most benefits for a reasonable price.
Pro-Fem is highly rated for its promotion of vaginal health. It was created with women’s health in mind by OB/GYN Monte Swarup, and has been shown to prevent BV, yeast infections, and UTIs. It also boasts the benefits of fighting odor and restoring vaginal pH balance. Pro-Fem works its magic through its patented bacterial strains, GR-1 and RC-14, which enter and promote protective health in the vaginal tract. These strains have been studied extensively in human trials for over two decades and have been shown to be beneficial to vaginal health. If you’re looking for a well-studied, safe solution to your genital health, Pro-Fem might be perfect for you. Let’s talk a little more about the details.
- Lactobacillus Rhamosus (GR-1): This bacterial strain was first established in 1980. It has been shown to help with inflammation and disrupt the adhesion of disease-causing elements and destroy viruses. It also prevents the growth of yeast and unhealthy bacteria. This strain has been studied for diligently and has been shown to be incredibly beneficial to overall vaginal health.
- Lactobacillus Reuteri (RC-14): This strain was isolated shortly after GR-1 in 1985. Like GR-1, RC-14 is well-studied, and has been shown to improve vaginal and urinary tract health. This strain effectively improves your immune system’s response to pathogens and fights viruses.
If you’ve tried to research probiotics before, you may have come across the word, CFU. CFUs refer to colony-forming units, or the number of living cells located in a probiotic that can multiply in your body. The amount of CFUs contained within Pro-Fem is one of the things that makes it one of the highest qualities and most effective probiotics out there. Pro-Fem contains five billion CFUs, meaning that the bacterial strains can inhabit your body effectively and spread their benefits with ease.
Your vaginal pH balance is crucial to maintaining vaginal health, and a variety of everyday causes can throw off your vagina’s pH and cause health problems, including unpleasant odor, irritation, and other unwanted effects. Pro-Fem has been shown to improve pH balance safely and effectively. Similarly Pro-fem is famed for fighting against BV and yeast infections, which can cause even more intense discomfort. Even better, Pro-Fem is able to fight these infections without all the side effects of an antibiotic.
The bacterial balance of your vaginal environment is one of the most important aspects of genital health, and an overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria can be detrimental to the functioning of your vagina. Pro-Fem can establish the healthy bacterial balance you need and thus decrease the presence of negative bacteria.
Some other benefits to Pro-Fem’s patented formula include non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients. Pro-fem is also void of dairy and soy-based ingredients. Pro-Fem also does not need to be refrigerated and is guaranteed to work after just seven days. Finally, Pro-Fem is manufactured in the U.S. in a Good Manufacturing Practice (or GMP)-certified facility.
If you struggle with vaginal infections, irritation, or discomfort, talk to your doctor about Pro-Fem today.
2. Probiotic 40-Billion
This is another product that is lauded for its CFU count. As implied by the name, Probiotic 40-Billion contains no less than forty billion CFUs. While this product is primarily marketed to women fifty years of age or older, it can be beneficial to anyone regardless of age. Let’s discuss the strains included in this probiotic.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus: This bacterium’s primary function is to produce lactic acid which can fight and reduce the presence of illness-causing bacteria.
- Bifidobacterium lactis: The benefit of this strain is immune system support. It can give your body the boost it needs to fight infections more effectively.
- Lactobacillus plantarum: This bacterium boasts antioxidant properties that can positively benefit your body, including strengthening your intestinal lining for more effective digestion.
- Lactobacillus paracasei: This bacterium already plays a crucial role in the bacterial environment of your gut, and its increased presence can improve gut health.
- Marine Polysaccharide Complex
This product can offer a variety of health benefits, including immune system health. Probiotic 40-Billion can help you fight off simple infections such as the common cold, and even assist with more serious illnesses, helping your body eliminate viruses more effectively.
Another important aspect of your body’s immune system that is directly benefited by Probiotic 40-Billion is your skin. Your skin is actually your body’s most expansive organ, and not only plays a role in protecting you from infection, but is also a point of pride for many people. There are plenty of creams and serums on the market to help improve the appearance of your skin, but Probiotic 40-Billion works through promoting the internal health of your body and thus the external appearance of it as well.
Back to the internal benefits, one of the top incentives of Probiotic 40-Billion is improved gut and digestive health. This probiotic can actually stimulate neurotransmitter that communicate to your body to digest things more efficiently. Probiotic 40-Billion also helps to keep the bacterial environment of your digestive system more balanced, providing more of the healthy bacterial strains you need to digest efficiently and feel better.
Your urinary tract is another important part of excreting waste and keeping your digestive health balanced. Probiotic 40-Billion boosts your urinary tract’s health, which can prevent infections.
A lesser-known fact about your digestive system is that it can actually play an important role in your mental health. Digestive issues and gut health can affect stress levels and emotions. When Probiotic 40-Billion promotes gut health and helps your digestion, it can also positively impact your day-to-day moods and stress.
The obvious overall benefit of this probiotic is replenishing colonies of the positive bacteria that your body needs to function healthily, while helping fight off the illness-causing bacteria that can become overgrown and throw off your body’s bacterial environment.
Similar to Pro-Fem, Probiotic 40-Billion is manufactured in the U.S. in a Food and Drug Administration (or FDA)-approved facility.
If any or all of these benefits interest you, mention Probiotic 40-Billion to your doctor today, and see if it could be right for you.
3. Microbiome Plus+
This probiotic is most well-known for its benefits to heart health, and contains a blend of prebiotic fiber and live healthy bacteria strains which can help your body’s vitamin D intake and lower cholesterol. However, unlike the previous two probiotics we’ve discussed so far, Microbiome Plus+ only uses one strain of bacteria.
- Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242: This bacterial strain is known to lower cholesterol as well as promote gut health and increase vitamin D absorption. Combined with the prebiotic fiber, scFOS, contained in the capsules of Microbiome Plus+, this strain can be an effective dietary supplement.
Microbiome Plus+ works through time-release capsules. The live bacteria are contained within a low-moisture, nutritional veggie capsule along with the prebiotic fiber. The blend of probiotics and prebiotics is only released after the capsule has made it past the stomach acid, so the bacteria can survive and populate.
The CFU count of Microbiome Plus+ is 3.5 billion per capsule, with 600mg of prebiotic fiber per capsule. Since this prebiotic contains only one strain, the CFU count is enough to allow the bacteria to live and multiply in your body.
Microbiome Plus+ makes Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 the most effective supplement by creating a symbiotic combination with the prebiotic fiber, scFOS, to enhance the benefits of this bacterium.
This probiotic boasts an array of benefits for multiple parts of the body. As mentioned before, the bacterial strain contained within Microbiome Plus+ naturally lowers cholesterol which can benefit overall cardiovascular health. This can improve the circulation of oxygen to your heart and other parts of your body as well as help reduce your risk of heart issues.
The bacteria contained within this probiotic can also help gut health by alleviating diarrhea and other gastrointestinal troubles and issues within the digestive tract. This has been shown in numerous clinical trials with Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242.
If you’re interested in supporting your cardiovascular and digestive health, talk to your doctor about Microbiome Plus+ now.
4. Omni-Biotic Stress Release
Stress is just a part of life. However, the way we react to stress can impact our ability to cope with it. While perspectives and states of mind are important factors to how we experience stressors, so is our biological functioning. The body is heavily affected by stress and this often elicits physiological reactions as a result. The goal of Omni-Biotic Stress Release is to help your body react to stress more positively and efficiently, so that you can face whatever challenges life throws your way.
Omni-Biotic Stress Release is also award-winning, earning the title Best Probiotic of the Year at the NutraIngredients-USA Awards in 2021. Let’s take a look at the strains that make this product so effective.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus W22
- Bifidobacterium lactis W52
- L. casei W56
- L. lactis W19
- L. paracasei W20
- L. plantarum W62
- B. lactis W51
- B. bifidum W23
- L. salivarius W24
The pure number of strains contained within this probiotic is impressive, but it also boasts a high CFU count. Omni-Biotic Stress Release contains 7.5 billion CFUs!
This probiotic does not need to be refrigerated, and comes in a powder form that just needs to be mixed with water to be dissolved and consumed.
This is a probiotic with many benefits in regards to stress. One major physical issue that can accompany stress is increased levels of stomach acid, which can lead to problems throughout your entire gastrointestinal system. Omni-Biotic Stress Release targets this reaction to reduce digestive distress during high-stress situations. Similarly, it helps reduce out-of-sync responses between your brain and stomach during these scenarios. Symptoms associated with IBS can also be reduced through Omni-Biotic Stress Release.
Omni-Biotic Stress Release also targets moods and emotions for a better reaction to overwhelming situations. Balancing the bacteria in your gut can assist with emotional regulation and more balanced moods. This probiotic also boasts benefits to cognitive functions such as memory retention and decision-making, which are often functions disrupted by stress.
Omni-Biotic Stress Release has an impressive formula and reputation. Consider talking with your doctor about its benefits today.
What are Probiotic Supplements?
Probiotics themselves are viable, living specimens of bacteria and yeast. While this may seem a bit scary, they are merely isolations of the bacteria that already exist in the biome of your body. As mentioned above, bacteria cannot be summed up as either good or bad, but instead there are varieties of both healthy and unhealthy bacteria. The positive bacteria assist in your body’s functioning, and promote overall health in your various systems just as digestive, cardiovascular and reproductive. Negative bacteria disrupt functioning and can cause illnesses and difficulties within these systems.
Probiotics are primarily used to increase the presence of and support the healthy bacteria in your body in order to help your body function more efficiently and fight off viruses and infections. They are designed to restore balance in your body’s bacterial environment.
Probiotics are also naturally found in several common foods, mainly those that have been fermented like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and yogurt. Other food-based sources of probiotics include:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Raw cheese
- Gherkin pickles
- Brine-cured olives
- Raw milk
While these foods provide a great number of healthy bacteria, it isn’t realistic to consume enough each day to supply your body with all of the good bacteria it needs. Probiotics can be a better way to get the good bacteria needed to balance your body’s functioning, without eating nothing but kimchi each day.
Probiotics are unique in that they contain large amounts of the positive bacteria that your body needs, and can be specialized to enhance a particular function by including specific strains. For instance, certain strains may promote vaginal health, while another is primarily geared towards cardiovascular health. These strains can also be combined to benefit multiple parts of the body. This not only allows for an overall healthier body, but you can also be sure you are getting the bacteria you need without having to make extreme alterations to your diet.
It’s important to understand how you should approach thinking and researching about probiotics, and what when into ranking these top-rated supplements.
As mentioned above, certain strains affect certain processes and promote different benefits. Many probiotics only contain one probiotic strain, such as Align, which was not ranked in this list. Strain count is important because a probiotic that only has one strain has limited benefits compared to the other probiotics included in the ranking. In this process, the only probiotics added to our list were those that target multiple aspects of women’s health. One of the probiotics that did make it on this list, Microbiome Plus+ also only includes one bacterial strain, but combines it with a prebiotic fiber that enhances the performance of this strain, thus offering far more benefit than the strain alone.
CFU, or colony-forming units, is one of the most important aspects of a probiotic. While a probiotic can boast having a particularly beneficial strain, not having enough CFUs in each dose to populate your body’s bacterial environment doesn’t really do much in the grand scheme of things. In order to decide whether a probiotic is worth its money, the CFU count is an important factor to consider. The products on this list all have high CFU counts that ensure that the bacteria will survive and populate so you can enjoy all of the benefits they promise.
Any smart consumer knows that reviews are incredibly important to consider when buying any product, especially when it comes to health products. The numbers are essential to deciding whether a product is worth the money. This list only includes products who have good reviews from real, verified customers to ensure honest and considerate ranking. There’s no need to waste your time on unreviewed products. Each of the products listed here boast great benefits, and the reviews from real customers verify these claims.
Affordability is a key feature of each of these products. Probiotics can be a game-changing addition to your diet and health routines, but not every option is affordable. While many expensive options have wonderful health benefits and quality, you don’t have to break your bank to find a good supplement. This was one of the main considerations in compiling this list. Each of these products is fairly priced especially in regards to their strains and CFU counts.
While affordability was one of the top concerns, so was rooting out products that were a little too affordable. Like any product, there are high-quality and low-quality ingredients. So, whether it be low CFU count, fewer strains, or ineffective strains, any products that were simply too cheap were kept out of this list, so you don’t have to fret about wasting money on a product that won’t work or won’t work well.
Why should Women take Probiotics?
Before we get into the carefully curated list of top probiotics, here’s a few more notes about the general benefits of taking a probiotic. While the most common use of probiotics centers around digestive support, probiotics can do a lot of other work for your body that goes beyond gut health. Good bacteria a critical aspect of your body’s functioning and anything you can to establish more good bacteria can benefit you significantly. Here are just a few of the many ways probiotics can be a great addition to your health practices.
Improved Digestive and Gut Health
As previously mentioned, this is one of the top uses for probiotics because they can impact gut health so effectively. Studies have found that some strains can eliminate even the most stubborn symptoms of digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea in less than one month! Other symptoms probiotics have been proven to get rid of quickly include gas pains, IBS symptoms, and abnormal bowel movements.
Part of the magic of probiotics is that the good bacteria within them can help your body break down food and nutrients more efficiently. This allows you to pass food more easily, and while serious digestive issues cannot be completely cured through probiotics alone, they can help to alleviate many common, uncomfortable symptoms that you may have previously just been dealing with. Probiotics can help you take charge of your digestive health.
Balancing Vaginal Bacterial Biomes
As you’ve learned so far, many of the bacteria contained within probiotics already exist within your body. Your vagina is no exception. In fact, your vagina needs a meticulous balance of bacteria, pH, and yeast to function properly. When this balance is disrupted, it opens the door for bacterial vaginosis, or BV, and other unpleasant conditions. Studies have shown probiotics can be a great treatment and preventative measure for many of these conditions, even more so than some antibiotics.
There are also some studies that suggest certain probiotics can improve fertility. This makes sense when you consider how important balancing your vagina’s microbiome is to your body’s larger functioning. While there may not be a way to reverse a complete lack of fertility through probiotics, studies suggest that taking specific probiotics can help support your body’s fertility.
Similar to the vagina, your urinary tract also requires a careful balance of bacteria to function healthily. Urinary Tract Infections, or UTIs, such as E. coli and Candida albicans can enter your urethra and threaten this balance. UTIs cause a lot of disrupting symptoms, such as unpleasant odor, painful urinating, pelvic pain, and bloody urine.
Probiotics work through balancing the bacteria within your vagina and urinary tract, thus helping prevent these unpleasant infections.
Immune System Support
Your immune system is your body’s army against invading viruses and illness. This complex system is crucial to defending the rest of your body from harmful bacteria, and requires helpful bacteria to accomplish this. If your immune system is weakened, you could get sick more often and experience more severe symptoms that may lead to hospitalization. Probiotics populate your immune system with the positive bacteria it needs to fight off negative invading bacteria, so your immune system can get rid of illnesses more effectively.
Probiotics often support your immune system more generally, but there are also strains that can target specific parts of you immune system. For instance, Bifidobacterium lactis primarily affects digestive lining to help with bowel inflammation and prevent other diseases from infiltrating your body through your digestive system and blood stream.
Promoting Healthy Skin
A lot of things can impact skin health, such as lack of UV protection and hydration. Perhaps a more unexpected cause of poor skin is your stomach health. For instance, eczema, which is a condition that causes uncomfortable irritation and roughness, has been linked to poor digestive and gut health. Lactobacillus paracasei K71 is a bacterial strain that has been clinically researched and shown to alleviate symptoms of eczema. While there is still more research to be done, many probiotic companies claim that probiotics can cause skin to glow and give it a more youthful feel and appearance.
As your skin is your body’s first line of defense against infection and injury, its important to take good care of your it. Probiotics are a simple and effective way to do just that. Not to mention, your skin can be a source of insecurity, especially if you suffer from conditions like eczema. Probiotics can help ease these symptoms, and allow you to feel assured that you are taking care of your skin and your body as a whole.
Emotional Balance and Sleep
The degree to which your stomach health can affect the functioning of the rest of your body cannot be overstated, and emotional regulation and sleep are no exceptions to this. Your stomach and your brain have more impact over each other than you’d think. One property of probiotics is alleviating digestive issues, which then soothes neurotransmitters from your brain, significantly improving your daily moods and emotions.
Similarly, a comfortable stomach allows you to sleep better, and thus feel more energized and at ease the next day. Poor sleeping habits can strain your mood and cause more emotional volatility. Your sleep is also important for a variety of other reasons, such as supporting your immune system. Probiotics can help you get a better night’s rest and significantly improve your day-to-day functioning.
Weight Maintenance and Loss
Unfortunately, there is no miracle pill that can promote significant weight loss alone. However, certain probiotics, such as Bacillus variety probiotics, can affect the way your body stores fat, primarily preventing certain metabolism issues by restricting fat storage in the liver. There are many different probiotics with different strains and targets, so its important to understand your own personal needs when selecting a probiotic.
There’s a lot of thought that goes in to choosing the perfect probiotic, so here are a few of the most common considerations.
- How much should you pay for a good probiotic? The probiotics on this list are both effective and affordable. Each feature prices below $100 a month, with certain discounts for larger packages. Here’s a quick snapshot of their prices.
- Pro-Fem: This only costs $29.99 per month or $48.99 for a two-month supply.
- Probiotic 40-Billion: Another affordable option at $34.95 per bottle or $97.44 for four bottles.
- Microbiome Plus+: Only $47.49 for a one-month supply. Or $256.45 for six months.
- Omni Biotic Stress Release: This costs $68 for one purchase or a deal of $61.20 per month for a subscription.
- When should supplements be taken? Most probiotics come with instructions or recommendations on when and how to take them. Generally, most manufacturers suggest taking the supplement about thirty minutes before eating breakfast in the morning, as many are most effective with an empty stomach. However, read the instructions for the best use of your product.
- How often should Probiotics be taken? Most probiotics are designed to be taken once a day for best results. Often, they can be taken indefinitely with no negative effects. Ultimately, as long as you want to reap their benefits, take them once a day. However, talking to a doctor, especially if you’re pregnant or have any significant health conditions, is recommended before starting a probiotic supplement.
- How do you know if you need a probiotic supplement? This one is simple. You don’t need to be experiencing any difficulties or conditions to benefit from probiotics. Healthy people can enjoy better bacterial support regardless. However, if you’re experiencing gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, or infections like UTIs and BV, probiotics can be especially helpful for you. While they may not completely cure you of any of these issues, especially if they’re severe, they can help alleviate symptoms and give your body the boost it needs for prevention.
- How long do you have to wait for probiotics to take effect? The answer to this one is less straight forward. Each probiotic is different and so is everyone who takes them. The range for results can be anywhere from a few days to a few months. Most companies recommend taking their supplement daily for at least a few weeks to start noticing the benefits, however, some also recommend regularly alternating probiotics and strains, especially if you stop seeing results after a while. This can also prevent your body from becoming overly used to certain bacteria.
- Do probiotics really help with weight loss? As we mentioned before, probiotics cannot directly work as a weight loss supplement. While certain strains can affect fat storage, the main reason many mistake probiotics for a weight loss pill is due to their ability to reduce bloating and gastrointestinal symptoms. Bloating tends to accumulate around your waist and stomach, so anything that reduces bloating can make it seems as though you’ve lost significant weight. However, the only thing really being affected is water-retention.Digestive support is a beneficial to weight loss and general health, but probiotics should not be used for weight loss alone. Rather, their affect on bloating is more of a pleasant side effect.
- Do probiotics improve vaginal heath and issues? Yes! This is one of the main benefits of several probiotics, and what makes them so great for women’s health. Balancing vaginal pH and bacterial environments in your vagina and urinary tract help prevent infections and development of problematic conditions for things like BV and UTIs. Similarly, creating a healthy bacterial environment in your reproductive system is good for fertility.
- How do prebiotics compare to probiotics? Probiotics, as we’ve discussed, are living bacteria that, when introduced into your body, can positively impact digestion, immune system support, and a variety of other benefits. They consist of various strains and the goal is for them to make it into your systems alive.
This is where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are essentially high-fiber snacks for the bacteria so they can survive and thrive in your body. As a living thing, bacteria have to get their nutrients from somewhere, and even if you already consume a lot of health fibers in your regular diet, combing probiotics with prebiotics can further support the healthy bacteria so you can optimize your benefits.
Similarly, if you have a hard time incorporating enough fiber into your diet, prebiotics can help you on their own. Keeping up with a high fiber diet can help with digestive issues and bowel support. Many probiotic supplements, including some of the ones on this list, already include prebiotics along with probiotics. These supplements are called “symbiotic supplements.”
Probiotics are simple but effective way to boost your general health, but they can also be specialized to fit your individual needs. You’ve seen a list of some of the best probiotic products on the market, and understand the thought that should go into selecting a probiotic. You don’t have to be having health issues to start taking probiotic, but they can also alleviate troublesome symptoms of common issues in women’s health. See what probiotics can do for you and your body, and consider trying out of one of these products today.