The Best Probiotics for Women, According to a Gut Health Advocate

Group of Women Talking about Probiotics
Table of Contents

Benefits of Taking Probiotics for Women

The primary benefit of probiotics for women is the support they provide for vaginal health. The gut microbiome and the vaginal microbiome interact with one another, and an imbalance in gut bacteria is often associated with recurring yeast infections and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).

Other benefits of probiotics for women include their ability to help address common digestive complaints, such as occasional constipation. They also help support immune function and many other important processes in the body, including cognitive function and mood.

But, with probiotics, it’s not “one size fits all.” Different probiotic strains perform different functions in the body, so choosing the right probiotic for your needs is essential.

Sometimes foods like yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut are recommended for their probiotic content. Unfortunately, they often don’t contain human-strain bacteria and can’t colonize in the human body.

Probiotic supplements are a better option because they offer a targeted approach to getting these good bacteria. At the same time, for the normal consumer, it’s often difficult to tell what probiotic is right for them.

We designed this guide to help women find the right probiotic supplement for their needs.

Best Probiotics for Women’s Gut Health

Constipation is one of the most common digestive concerns for women. Some survey data suggest that constipation is more common in women than in men. Other common digestive issues include diarrhea, bloating, and gas.

Many factors affect digestion, including diet, exercise, hydration, stress levels, and certain medications. The gut flora also plays an essential role in digestive health. When the gut flora is out of balance, digestive issues arise.

The good bacteria in the gut aid in digestion, nutrient absorption, and more. For example, certain bacteria help produce intestinal mucus, supporting healthy bowel movements. A probiotic supplement can support health, digestion, and bowel movements.

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Omni-Biotic AB 10

Omni-Biotic AB 10 was specifically formulated to restore the gut flora with ten different bacterial strains. This is particularly important if the gut flora has been disrupted, for example, due to medications such as antibiotics, bad bacteria such as C. Diff, or due to food poisoning. Often, these result in diarrhea.

In clinical studies with Omni-Biotic AB 10, antibiotic-associated diarrhea significantly decreased for those taking a probiotic in addition to an antibiotic compared to those who were only taking the antibiotic.

All Omni-Biotic probiotics are characterized by the strictest quality standards, and a rigorous research and manufacturing process. Omni-Biotic probiotics come as a powder formulation, which ensures that 83% of probiotic bacteria survive into the intestines, compared to 7% on average for 10 other leading capsule brands.

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The probiotics are freeze-dried for shelf-stability and mixed with prebiotic nutrients. When the powder is mixed with water prior to intake, the freeze-dried probiotic bacteria rehydrate and begin to consume the prebiotic nutrients (i.e., their food). This makes the probiotic bacteria strong for their passage through the acidic environment of the stomach, and ensures high survival to the intestines.

  • Type: Powder formulation with prebiotic nutrients
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1-2 sachets per day
  • Dietary considerations: Hypoallergenic, vegan, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: Yes
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes
omnibiotic balanced featured

Omni-Biotic Balance

Omni-Biotic Balance contains six keystone strains that help optimize digestion and bowel movements, especially for occasional constipation, flatulence, and bloating.

One common cause for bloating and gas is an imbalance of bacteria and yeasts in the intestines. Another possible reason is food intolerances such as lactose or fructose intolerances.

Omni-Biotic Balance supports healthy digestion in multiple ways. It contains six keystone bacterial strains that are critical for the proper functioning of the intestines. These strains support an optimal pH in the gut, assist with mucus production, and strengthen the gut’s immune function. This helps keep bad bacteria out, supports digestion and bowel movements.

In addition, several of the bacterial strains in Omni-Biotic Balance have antifungal effects, especially against the yeast Candida. Too much Candida in the gut can lead to a Candida infection with bloating, gas, and strong cravings for sweets.

Omni-Biotic as a brand follows strict quality criteria throughout our entire research, development, and manufacturing process to deliver probiotics that you can feel and trust.

  • Type: Powder formulation with prebiotic nutrients
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1-2 sachets per day
  • Dietary considerations: Hypoallergenic, vegan, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: Yes
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Garden of Life Once Daily Women’s Probiotic

Garden of Life Once Daily Women’s Probiotic is another probiotic with multiple bacterial strains for diversity. This specific probiotic contains 16 probiotic strains as well as some added prebiotics. According to the product’s description, it supports digestive function, immune function, and women’s health. Unfortunately, there are no clinical studies showing the efficacy of the product’s specific formulation.

This probiotic is also shelf-stable, which makes use convenient.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1 capsule per day
  • Dietary considerations: Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Garden of Life Raw Probiotic

Garden of Life Raw Probiotic is a probiotic supplement that takes a slightly different approach. The approach here is to mimic eating fermented foods. It combines probiotic strains with an enzyme and vegetable blend.

The product claims to maintain “more live nutrients, enzymes and probiotic strains” compared to other products throughout its manufacturing process. It is unclear whether there is any data to substantiate this claim.

It is important to differentiate between the manufacturing process and the shelf-stability of the ingredients. The manufacturing process may maintain more live nutrients and enzymes. However, for the probiotic to deliver optimal benefits, these nutrients, bacteria, and enzymes still need to be alive when the product reaches you, the end consumer. Live bacteria and enzymes often have a much shorter lifespan than freeze-dried probiotic bacteria found in many probiotic supplements, including Omni-Biotic.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1 capsule per day
  • Dietary considerations: Contains milk
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Culturelle Digestive Daily Probiotic

Culturelle Digestive Daily Probiotic is a single-strain product containing only Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, delivered in capsule format.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a widely studied and well-known strain, but the downside of taking a single-strain probiotic is just that — it only delivers one strain.

Several research studies have shown that different bacterial strains perform different functions in the body. Strains often work in teams to support each other or cancel each other out. Even for digestion, different strains are needed for improving mucus production, creating the right pH in the intestines, fighting off other bacteria, and more. That’s why taking a single-strain probiotic may not yield the same benefits as taking a whole team of probiotics in one probiotic blend.

Generally speaking, a gut microbiome with a diverse array of bacteria is considered healthy. Whereas, a gut microbiome with an imbalance of bacteria and/or with limited diversity, has been linked to disease.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1 capsule per day
  • Dietary considerations: No dairy, wheat, eggs, tree nuts, or peanuts, and non-GMO.
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: It is unclear if Culturelle studied this specific product or just the probiotic strain.
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: No

Best Probiotics for Vaginal Health

Vaginal issues such as yeast infections and UTIs can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. The gut microbiome and the vaginal microbiome interact with one another. It is easy for potentially harmful bacteria such as E. Coli to travel from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to the vaginal tract due to their close anatomical proximity.

The same bacteria that can lead to digestive discomfort, such as E. Coli, are often responsible for UTIs. One common yeast infection is Candida, which can occur in the mouth, intestines, and vaginal tract. They are associated with vaginal itching and discharge. Taking a probiotic helps maintain a healthy gut flora, also positively impacting vaginal and urinary tract health.

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Omni-Biotic Balance

Omni-Biotic Balance is a multispecies, multistrain probiotic. Some of the strains in Omni-Biotic Balance are known to inhibit Candida growth. They do this by producing lactic acid, which creates an environment that Candida does not like. Given that many vaginal yeast infections are caused by Candida, incorporating these probiotic strains can be beneficial.

Furthermore, Omni-Biotic Balance supports the immune cells in the gut. Stronger immune function in the gut helps improve this first line of defense for any invaders in the body. Given that the urinary tract, vaginal tract, and GI tract are so close together anatomically, keeping the gut flora free of potential pathogens also helps ensure balance in the other systems.

Omni-Biotic’s strict adherence to extensive research, clinical studies, and effective delivery mechanism make this an excellent choice for a high-quality probiotic. It comes in daily-dose sachets for easy use on the go — just mix the powder with water, let it sit for one minute, stir again, and drink. This unique delivery mechanism ensures that the bacteria reach the intestines alive instead of dying in the stomach’s acidic environment.

  • Type: Powder formulation with prebiotic nutrients
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1-2 sachets per day
  • Dietary considerations: Hypoallergenic, vegan, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: Yes
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Renew Life Ultimate Flora Women’s Vaginal Probiotic

This Renew Life probiotic aims to “maintain healthy vaginal bacteria and yeast levels.” It contains a mix of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. It is delivered in a delayed-release capsule for improved survival through the acidic environment of the stomach.

Renew Life states that this probiotic comes in a smaller capsule size than most other probiotic capsules, which can benefit those who have difficulty swallowing capsules. Like Culturelle probiotics, this brand also contains the widely studied strain L. rhamnosus GG, but it does not seem that this product was studied in its entire formulation for efficacy.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Refrigeration recommended
  • Dose/day: 1 capsule per day
  • Dietary considerations: Formula free of gluten, dairy, and soy
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No, specific strains have been studied in isolation, but not the final formulation.
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Culturelle Women’s Healthy Balance

This probiotic supplement is a blend of 5 probiotic strains of the Lactobacillus family. The goal is to support immune health, digestive health, and feminine health. According to the product description, it “promotes the natural balance of good bacteria and yeast in the vaginal microbiota to support pH balance for feminine health.”

All 5 strains in this product have clinical evidence behind them, but the product was not tested as a whole. This means that while we know what each strain does in the laboratory or in other studies, it is unclear whether the final formulation accomplishes the same goals. Sometimes, strains of the same formulation can compete or cancel each other out.

Another downside of this probiotic is that it contains several additives in the capsule, including titanium dioxide and caramel for coloring. Many other probiotic supplements are free of such additives to avoid irritation of the GI tract.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Refrigeration recommended
  • Dose/day: 1 capsule per day
  • Dietary considerations: Formula free of gluten, dairy, and sugar. Vegetarian & vegan.
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No, specific strains have been studied in isolation, but not the final formulation.
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Vaginal Care

Garden of Life Raw Probiotic Vaginal Care is part of the “Raw Probiotics” product line of Garden of Life. This product line takes a slightly different approach to probiotics. Instead of isolating specific strains, this formula contains over 30 probiotic strains. The idea is to mimic eating fermented foods.

The challenge with combining such a multitude of strains is that it is difficult to tell how well these strains work together. In addition, probiotic strains obtained from fermented food products, such as kefir, are often not natural to the human intestine, which means they are more likely to pass through the intestine than colonize there for optimal, long-lasting benefits. Unfortunately, there are no clinical studies showing the efficacy of the product’s specific formulation.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1 capsule per day
  • Dietary considerations: contains milk and egg
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes
prregnant woman doing yoga

Best Probiotics for Pregnancy

A woman’s gut microbiome changes considerably during pregnancy. These changes have been associated with various undesirable health effects for women. One common digestive complaint during pregnancy is constipation.

The mother’s immune system also adapts to accommodate the fetus, which can make her more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections such as a common cold or the flu. Once the baby is born, it is vital to support the mother’s immune system so it can rebalance appropriately.

The mother’s microbiome is also essential to the healthy development of the infant’s gut microbiome. At birth, an infant’s gut microbiome is not fully developed. During the birth process, as well as during breastfeeding, some of the mother’s microbiome is passed on to the infant.

Ensuring a diverse, balanced gut microbiome during pregnancy and postpartum by taking a probiotic supplement can help support the healthy development of the baby’s gut flora.

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Omni-Biotic PandA

Omni-Biotic PandA was specifically developed to support the mother’s digestive and immune function during pregnancy, and develop the infant’s gut microbiome and immune system after birth.

This unique probiotic can be given to the mother during pregnancy and to the infant or toddler as they develop. It is a gentle yet highly effective multispecies probiotic. As with all Omni-Biotic probiotics, it is rooted in a stringent development process, adheres to the highest quality criteria for probiotics, has a proven track record of success in Europe, and includes only vegan, hypoallergenic and non-GMO ingredients.

In a clinical study, Omni-Biotic Panda showed an improvement in digestive comfort and constipation during pregnancy. In a study with infants, taking Omni-Biotic Panda reduced the risk of allergies such as eczema and improved symptoms associated with 3-month colic. The highly effective powder delivery makes it easy to mix into infant formula or breastmilk.

  • Type: Powder
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1 sachet per day
  • Dietary considerations: Hypoallergenic, vegan, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: Yes
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Mary Ruth’s Prenatal Probiotic

This probiotic supplement contains 3 probiotic strains, herbs such as raspberry leaf and ginger root, and a mix of vitamins and minerals. This product aims to combine prenatal nutrients such as folate and choline with probiotic bacteria.

One downside is that the capsules have a more unusual smell due to the choline. This can be off-putting, especially for women who struggle with pregnancy nausea. Furthermore, since probiotics are living organisms, it is unknown how they interact with other nutrients in the capsule and if this affects their efficacy.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1 capsule per day
  • Dietary considerations: Vegan, free of gluten, soy, nuts, nightshades, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Mega Foods Baby & Me 2 Prenatal Probiotic + Prebiotic

This probiotic supplement contains 14 probiotic strains and two prebiotic ingredients, as well as ginger. Mega Foods as a company prioritizes ingredient transparency and ingredient purity.

One of the downsides is that this product requires refrigeration, which makes traveling and taking it on the go more difficult.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Refrigeration required
  • Dose/day: 2 capsules per day
  • Dietary considerations: Certified vegan, certified gluten-free, non-GMO, glyphosate residue-free
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Best Probiotics for Stress

Stress, especially long-term or chronic stress, has many negative impacts on the body. It puts the body in fight or flight mode, which raises stress hormones, promotes inflammation in the body, and inhibits normal digestive processes. Inflammation triggered by stress can damage the gut barrier, which shows up as “leaky gut.” Stress is also a common culprit for digestive changes such as stress-related diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.

When the gut microbiome is out of balance due to stress, it can also affect our emotional state. For example, 95% of serotonin (the body’s happiness hormone) is produced in the gut with the help of our good bacteria.

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Omni-Biotic Stress Release

Omni-Biotic Stress Release is a unique and targeted probiotic formulation specifically made to support the body during stressful times. The bacterial strains in Stress Release were selected to optimize digestion during stressful times, reduce inflammation in the gut, support a strong gut barrier, and promote focus and positive mood.

As with all Omni-Biotic formulations, these findings are based on clinical studies using this specific formulation. This probiotic also comes with a highly effective powder delivery, ensuring that the probiotic bacteria reach the intestines alive and metabolically active. It also does not require refrigeration.

Omni-Biotic Stress Release won the “Probiotic of the Year” Award by NutraIngredients in 2021. It is hypoallergenic, vegan and non-GMO.

  • Type: Powder
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1 sachet per day
  • Dietary considerations: Hypo-allergenic, vegan, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: Yes
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Klaire Labs Target gb-X

This probiotic formulation is similar to Omni-Biotic Stress Release. It is delivered in a powder format, backed by clinical studies, is hypoallergenic, and does not require refrigeration.

The main difference is that Omni-Biotic probiotics have a more significant number of clinical studies showing a positive impact on the gut-brain axis. In addition, Omni-Biotic Stress Release has clinically shown benefits on gut-barrier function and inflammation in the gut.

  • Type: Powder
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1 sachet per day
  • Dietary considerations: Hypo-allergenic, vegan, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: Yes
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Lifted Naturals Mood Boosting Probiotic

Lifted Naturals Mood Boosting Probiotic is focused on the gut-brain axis to support mood and stress response. It contains nine strains that have been researched for their benefits on digestion and mood. It also includes a prebiotic called Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) to provide nutrients to the bacteria.

That said, the product label does not specify the probiotic strains on the substrain level. The gold standard in probiotics is to list the probiotic strain on the sub-strain level. This allows for optimal strain identification and traceability.

For example, instead of just writing “B. Longum,” the strain should be classified as “B. Longum W51.” Furthermore, it is unclear from the company’s website whether the company performs any survival testing, shelf-stability testing, or clinical studies with their products.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1- 2 capsules per day
  • Dietary considerations: Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, non-GMO
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+

Another popular Garden of Life probiotic, this supplement was specifically formulated for mood support, according to the company’s website. It contains the strains L. helveticus R0052 and B. longum R0175, which have been studied for emotional well-being.

This product also contains a stress blend of herbs, including ashwagandha, and a prebiotic blend. Including additional herbs may be a concern for some individuals, especially if you are sensitive to herbs, are already taking other supplements with the same herbs, or are looking for a clean probiotic supplement without any added ingredients.

  • Type: Capsule
  • Storage: Shelf-stable
  • Dose/day: 1- 2 capsules per day
  • Dietary considerations: Gluten-free, non-GMO, vegetarian
  • Clinical studies using the final formulation: No
  • Multispecies/ multistrain: Yes
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Choosing the Right Probiotic for Women

When choosing the right probiotic for women, it’s important to consider what specifically you are hoping to accomplish.

Different probiotic strains perform different tasks in the body. For example, a probiotic that supports immune function or vaginal health will contain a different combination of strains than a probiotic for mood and stress support.

Some factors you should consider when choosing a probiotic include:

Targeted formulation: Different probiotic strains perform different functions in the body. For an effective probiotic formulation, it’s important that the strains are mindfully combined and then tested with specific health outcomes in mind.

Multistrain, multispecies: a combination of several strains is often more beneficial than adding just one strain to your gut. However, there is a fine line. Combining too many different strains can also – compromise the efficacy, especially if there are strains that compete with each other.

Clinical studies with the product itself: Clinical studies are the gold standard for supplements. A clinical study will demonstrate that the product works in the desired effect. It is important to have clinical studies with the final product, rather than just a specific strain in the formula studied in isolation, as strains may act differently on their own vs. when mixed with other strains.

Storage/Refrigeration: For most, having a supplement that requires refrigeration is less convenient. It makes traveling with the product more difficult. Shelf-stable products can be carried along in your handbag or backpack and are easy to take on the go. It’s also difficult to ensure that the refrigeration chain has not been disrupted from the manufacturer to the consumer. There is a chance your probiotic will be defective once it reaches you.

CFU count: CFU stands for Colony Forming Units and indicates how many live bacteria are in the product. In general, it is recommended to look for a product that contains billions of CFU rather than millions. However, more CFU is not always better. Some products intentionally increase their CFU count to 100 Billion CFU or more to make the product seem more potent.

Simply adding more of the same bacteria is not necessarily better for your GI tract. The GI tract requires diversity. Too much of the same bacteria may cause digestive upset.

The more important factor to consider is the delivery mechanism. An effective delivery mechanism ensures that the probiotic bacteria reach the intestines alive and metabolically active. If the capsule already opens in the stomach, the probiotic bacteria are exposed to a very acidic environment, which kills many of them.

Delivery mechanism: If you spend money on a probiotic supplement, you want to make sure that it actually reaches your intestines. Ideally, look for a probiotic with a clinically tested delivery mechanism to ensure high survival rates.

Omni-Biotic probiotics come in powder form. This was specifically chosen for its highly effective delivery to the intestines. The freeze-dried bacteria are mixed with important prebiotic nutrients in the powder. When the powder is mixed in water prior to intake, the freeze-dried bacteria rehydrate and begin to consume the prebiotic nutrients. This makes the bacteria strong for their passage through the acidic environment in the stomach.

As a result, over 80% of them make it into the intestines alive. When tested 10 against leading capsule brands in the US market, the average of bacteria surviving to the intestines was 7%, compared to 83% for Omni-Biotic.

Additives: While some additives such as prebiotic nutrients may be beneficial to the product, a high-quality probiotic avoids additives such as preservatives, fillers, and possible allergens.

These factors are also some of the criteria we used while putting together this list.

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Which Probiotic Strains are Best for Women’s Health?

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are two species that are associated with multiple health benefits, including immune function, vaginal health, and digestion. Having said that: it’s not enough to look at the species.

To truly understand the function of a probiotic bacterium, you need to look at the strain level (e.g., Bifidobacterium lactis) or the substrain level (e.g., Bifidobacterium lactis W18).

Different strains perform different functions in the body, so choosing a company that invests in this level of strain-specific research, understands the significance of each strain, and then mindfully combines these strains with specific health outcomes in mind ensures the highest quality product.

Unfortunately, some probiotics companies want to be flexible in which specific bacteria they procure or which vendor they use, therefore they do not disclose the substrain level. This bears the risk of being exposed to regular changes in the product’s formulation.

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Hannah Kleinfeld
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