If you’re familiar with probiotics then your first thought might be they’re good for your gut health. And yes, probiotics have been shown to help with things like bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. But there are actually a ton more benefits of probiotics you may not even be aware of.
For example, did you know that probiotics can help prevent UTIs? Or that skin issues like acne, eczema, and psoriasis have been cleared up using probiotics? There’s also the link between gut health and energy, so many are turning to probiotics for help with the whole 2 p.m. tired feeling and to put a little pep back in their step.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 5 extraordinary benefits of probiotics for women.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that help populate your gut with beneficial bacteria (not all bacteria are bad as you may have been led to believe!). Think of probiotics as the“good guys” that not only promote gut health but health in general, as the state of your gut is oftentimes a reflection of overall health.
You can get probiotics through whole foods like yogurt (just make sure it contains live or active cultures), kombucha, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut, to name a few. Probiotic supplements are also a great option for boosting the number of healthy bacteria in your gut.
What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics?
Considering the fact that gut health influences your overall health, getting enough probiotics is definitely important. They may be particularly beneficial if you:
- Experience stomach discomfort and other issues like bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea
- Have a GI-related condition like leaky gut, IBS, SIBO, IBD, or celiac disease
- You get UTIs or vaginal bacterial and yeast infections frequently
- Struggle with skin issues like acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Are constantly feeling fatigued and don’t have much energy
- Have noticed any mood changes or suffer from mental health problems like anxiety or depression
- Get sick a lot and have a hard time recovering (indicating a suppressed immune system)
Who Should Not Take Probiotics?
Probiotics are usually safe for most people to take. However, if you're considering taking probiotics, there are a few situations you’ll want to bring up with your doctor, as taking them may do more harm than good. In these specific cases, the probiotics are contraindicated (meaning taking them could conflict with a current condition or medical issue you have).
- You’re in the last trimester of pregnancy
- You’re immunocompromised due to currently undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or another cancer treatment, being HIV positive, or taking certain medications that suppress your immune system
- You’ve had surgery recently
- You’re currently in the ICU
Just to reiterate, probiotics are a great option for those looking to get a boost in their gut health. But if any of the circumstances above apply to you it’s better to check with your doctor and be safe rather than sorry, right?
How Do Probiotics Help Women’s Health?
Now, to answer the question: What are the benefits of taking a probiotic? Let’s dive into the 5 key benefits of probiotics for women.
1. Preventing UTIs and yeast infections
Did you know that around 50%-60% of women will experience at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime? The good news is that probiotics have been shown to reduce the chances of getting a UTI and provide relief from the unfavorable symptoms if they do show up. Research shows women more prone to UTIs have fewer Lactobacillus bacteria in their vaginal and urinary microbiomes (the gold standard of bacterial strains which you can get through probiotics) than healthy individuals.
As for dealing with yeast infections, probiotics work to restore balance to the vaginal microbiome by destroying harmful bacteria. L. rhamnosus and L. acidophilus stand out as being especially efficient at eliminating bad bacteria and helping repopulate the vagina with healthy bacteria.
The vaginal microbiome plays a significant role when it comes to safe and healthy pregnancies. Furthermore, a baby’s initial GI microbes come from its mom in the birth canal.
2. Clearer and more healthy-looking skin
Is there anything that can make you feel more unattractive than acne-filled skin when you look in the mirror? If the majority of your morning routine is spent popping pimples and draining zits, then probiotics may be your saving grace. One of the main benefits of probiotics for women comes from the positive impact they have on resolving skin issues like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
There’s this thing called the Gut-Skin Axis which—as it sounds—explains the impact gut health has on skin health. To make a long story short, poor gut health can lead to things like gut dysbiosis (an imbalanced gut) and inflammation, which show themselves on your skin via acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, etc. In fact, a whopping 54% of people with acne also have gut dysbiosis, according to one study.
Fortunately, probiotics are a standout in the acne-clearing department. They reduce inflammation, rebalance your gut, and improve intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut), which can lead to clearer and healthier-looking skin. In one 12-week study, participants reduced their acne by 32% by taking a probiotic supplement.
3. They’re good for weight management
Is weight loss a goal of yours? Research shows that maintaining a healthy weight may very well be one of the major benefits of probiotics for women and men.
One study of 125 overweight people took a look at the impact of probiotic supplements on weight loss. Participants were split into two groups. Both followed a weight loss diet but one group was given a Lactobacillus rhamnosus probiotic supplement twice daily while the other was given a placebo supplement. Over the course of 12 weeks, women who took the probiotic supplement lost over 40% more weight than the placebo group.
Moreover, women who were given the probiotic supplement continued to see weight loss during a maintenance phase afterward. When you compare weight loss over the course of the 24 weeks participants were observed, women who took the probiotic supplement ended up losing 50%+ more weight.
Is there a driving force behind these findings? The research pointed out that the probiotic supplement group had higher leptin levels, which is an appetite-suppressing hormone.
4. Probiotics benefit your gut
Out of all the different benefits of probiotics for women, this is probably the one you’ve heard about the most. And that’s them being good for your gut and improving digestive health. But just how exactly do probiotics do that?
They increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut while eliminating harmful bacteria, fortify your intestinal lining, and reduce inflammation. All of that makes for healthy digestion, reducing symptoms like bloating, stomach discomfort, and gas, and relief from gut-related conditions like IBS, IBD, SIBO, and leaky gut.
Many people also take probiotics for constipation and diarrhea. If you suffer from the dreaded traveler’s diarrhea especially then you know the nearest bathroom is never close enough!
5. Probiotics boost fertility
Probiotics improve fertility by helping you maintain optimal health in your gut and vaginal microbiomes. For example, endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), two conditions centered on inflammation, can make it harder for women to become pregnant. And as we’ve discussed previously, probiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation. Also, the microbiome has an effect on estrogen levels, which can impact both fertility as well as period regularity.
What Happens to Your Body When You Start Probiotics?
While many people don’t experience any side effects when taking probiotics, you may experience some short-term, mild ones that include:
- Gas Bloating
- Stomach discomfort
As your body gets used to taking probiotics, these side effects should subside in a few weeks. After the adjustment period ends, signs your probiotics are working include things like less abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation, better digestion, and improved sleep.
Should You Take Probiotics Daily?
Yes! Think of probiotics like working out. The more consistent you are, the better your results will be. You want to keep up with taking them daily so you can see the best results. When you make them a part of your daily routine, that’s when you get the most out of them.
Wrapping Things Up
How’s that for some pretty cool benefits of probiotics for women? As you can see, probiotics are not only great for improving gut health and aiding in digestion but they have some other awesome benefits on top of all that—from preventing UTIs and clearing up skin issues to helping with weight loss and boosting fertility.
After extensive research analyzing the gut profiles of some of the healthiest and fittest people in the world (including elite professional athletes), we came up with Nella Probiotics to help you not only achieve optimal gut health and digestion but increase energy levels, get better sleep, enhance workout recovery, and a whole lot more.
About the Author: Chad Richardson is a blog copywriter from Cincinnati, OH. When he’s not cooking up content, Chad enjoys jumping rope in his backyard, putting his Chef Boyardee hat on and trying new recipes, and hanging out with friends while rooting on his hometown sports teams.