Probiotics Benefits for Women: 7 Reasons You Need Probiotics & What to Look For

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Gut microbiome balance is something that women desperately need for their unique bodies. If you do not have enough beneficial probiotics (i.e., “good” bacteria) in your system, the “bad” bacteria and fungi can run wild in your gut and lead to disease, plain and simple.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, knew this close to 2500 years ago when he said that all disease originates in the gut. We now know that the majority of our immune system cells reside in the digestive tract. In addition, a gut imbalance can lead to leaky gut and chronic inflammation [1], two conditions that have been connected to many major diseases.

woman with upset stomach

According to a recent Harris Poll survey [2], 72% of people have experienced some kind of digestive problem in the previous year. A large percentage of those impacted are women.

Gut-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and autoimmune disease [3] affect women far more often than men. In fact, according to 2005 research from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Mayo Clinic, women are twice as likely to have IBS as men [4]! Read on to discover probiotics benefits for women, including how you can rebalance your gut microbiome and achieve health on all levels.

7 Reasons Why Probiotics for Women’s Health Are Essential

You might not think that tiny little organisms living in your digestive tract can impact your entire body, but they do. Here is a list of just some of the factors that healthy probiotics play a part in:

  1. Maintaining weight [5]. Probiotics play a role in metabolism, obesity, diabetes, and weight.
  2. Having a healthy heart [6]. A healthy gut can also help lower blood pressure.
  3. Keeping a strong immune system. Remember that up to 80% of your immune system cells are in your upper gastrointestinal tract!
  4. Balancing hormones. Certain kinds of healthy bacteria have a direct effect on a woman’s key hormones, such as estrogen.
  5. Reproductive health. Healthy probiotics can reduce pathogens aimed at the vagina and other reproductive areas.
  6. Detoxification. Probiotics support proper liver function [7].
  7. Preventing chronic disease.     

The Candida Overgrowth Epidemic Among Women

 Woman suffering from yeast infection or bladder problem

For a woman, probiotics support vaginal health, the urinary tract, reproductive health, and hormonal health. Hands down, the one “culprit” that unfortunately can cause an imbalance in all these areas is Candida albicans.

Candida albicans is a fungus, more specifically a yeast, that lives in your mouth and intestines. In the right quantities, it actually has a beneficial job to do in these areas. It’s designed to aid in nutrient absorption and digestion. When there is an overproduction of Candida, however, it can release toxic byproducts. It can also penetrate through the intestinal lining, leading to the condition known as “Leaky Gut [8],” also known as intestinal permeability.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, four out of five individuals [9] are prescribed antibiotics each year. In women, antibiotic use is one of the main causes of Candida overgrowth, or Vaginal Candidiasis [10].

If you’ve ever experienced a vaginal yeast infection, you know how uncomfortable it can be. But there are other symptoms that oftentimes aren’t so readily recognized as being caused by Candida overgrowth.

Signs of Yeast Overgrowth

Check to see if any of these signs & symptoms apply to you. If so, you may be experiencing yeast overgrowth:

  • Fatigue or, in severe cases, fibromyalgia
  • Skin and nail infections
  • Problems with cognition
  • Allergies
  • Vaginal infections
  • Mood swings, anxiety, and depression
  • Strong cravings for carbohydrates and sugar
  • Bloating, diarrhea, and constipation
Woman in bed Holding Her Stomach in Pain from cramping

Candida overgrowth can also lead to more severe conditions. A recent investigation conducted at Tufts University in Boston found a link between IBS and Candida overgrowth. According to researchers, the presence of both can create a “vicious cycle in which low-level inflammation promotes fungal colonization and fungal colonization promotes further inflammation [11].”

According to the Mayo Clinic [12], fungal infections like Candida can also infiltrate endocrine organs. This can lead to an imbalance in hormones that are key for female reproductive health, such as estrogen and progesterone.

Finally, autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis can be linked to Candida overgrowth. One 2014 report [13] published in the journal Autoimmune Diseases notes that autoimmune conditions, in general, have “increased dramatically” since World War II. The study researchers connect this with increased environmental toxins which have created “gut dysbiosis [14]” (i.e., gut flora imbalance) that have allowed opportunistic microorganisms to flourish.

What Causes Probiotic Imbalance in Women?

There are as many routes to gut imbalance as there are individual women. However, researchers have identified at least five main ways in which gut flora can be compromised and opportunistic microorganisms like Candida can start to run amok. Amongst those are:

  • Too much alcohol consumption
  • Smoking cigarettes [15]
  • Eating too many simple sugars and carbs
  • Antibiotic use
  • Emotional stress
Woman stresses out while on the computer

Today, women are more stressed-out than ever before. They are more likely than men to report having “a great deal of stress,” according to a survey done by the American Psychological Association [16]. What’s more, women were more likely than men to report physical and emotional symptoms related to stress. Thirty-two percent said that they have had stress-related digestive upset over the past month.

Make no mistake about it, emotional stress can have a huge effect on a woman’s gut health. Chronic stress can create alterations in the “gut-brain” connection, which can worsen already existing digestive disorders. It can also create changes in gastric secretions [17] and increase intestinal permeability.

Lifestyle Changes & Probiotics for Women That Can Help

The good news is that there are some easy ways to turn both stress and Candida overgrowth around! The first step is to focus on self-care. This means taking specific actions that help your body, mind, and spirit, that can lower stress and that promote a healthier and happier you. Some actions include:

  • Meditating
  • Exercising
  • Staying hydrated
  • Taking relaxing baths
  • Getting a massage
  • Connecting with supportive friends
  • Being in nature
  • Participating in enjoyable hobbies
  • Doing work you feel passionate about
  • Eating a healthy, whole foods diet, including lots of cultured vegetables and prebiotic foods
smiling senior woman taking supplement pill

Another super easy yet very effective way to turn around gut health is to supplement with a quality probiotic formula every day. Hands down, research confirms that taking a probiotic is one of the best things a woman can do for her digestive health. (Go here for more on probiotic benefits for seniors.)

A study [18] conducted by the National Center for Toxicological Research found that the probiotic Lactobacilli can suppress certain pro-inflammatory genes in a woman’s vaginal area. The findings suggest that probiotic supplementation can significantly help with yeast infections as well as boost cancer protection in vaginal epithelial cells.

Other studies have made the connection between probiotics and improvements in anxiety and depression. Healthy bacteria affect the brain via the “gut-brain axis (GBA).”

Italian researchers writing for the Annals of Gastroenterology explain this as the “bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system, linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions [19].” These same researchers connect conditions such as IBS with many central nervous system/brain-based disorders, including autism and anxiety-depression.

Hands down, studies indicate that probiotics work to inoculate the gut with helpful bacteria and turn digestive issues around (and many times other health conditions, too!).

Getting the Good Gut Bacteria You Need

Many women are reluctant to talk about gut health. They’re embarrassed by symptoms which may include bloating, cramping, nausea, and gas. Two-thirds of women surveyed in the Harris Poll were uncomfortable with talking about their gut issues even with their friends.

Women are in crisis when it comes to gut health, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways you can be proactive about healing gut imbalance. Reducing stress (see self-care list above) and including daily probiotic supplements that supply the good gut bacteria your body needs are definitely steps in the right direction.

It all starts with awareness and education. You’ve just learned about the substantial probiotics benefits for women. If you’re a woman, don’t let your body suffer. Take action that can not only lead to digestive health but contribute to whole-body health and healing.


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Article Summary

  • Gut-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and autoimmune disease affect women far more often than men.

  • Probiotics play a part in:

    1. maintaining weight
    2. having a healthy heart
    3. keeping a strong immune system
    4. balancing hormones
    5. reproductive health
    6. detoxification
    7. preventing chronic disease
  • Probiotics support vaginal health, the urinary tract, reproductive health, and hormonal health. The one “culprit” that can cause an imbalance in all these areas is Candida albicans.

  • In women, antibiotic use is one of the main causes of Candida overgrowth, or Vaginal Candidiasis.

  • Candida overgrowth can also lead to a range of other health conditions.

  • Researchers have identified at least 5 main ways in which gut flora can be compromised and microorganisms like Candida can start to run amok. These include:

    1. Too much alcohol consumption
    2. Smoking cigarettes 
    3. Eating too many simple sugars and carbs
    4. Antibiotic use
    5. Emotional stress
  • There are ways you can be proactive about healing gut imbalance. Reducing stress (see self-care list in article) and including daily probiotic supplements that supply the good gut bacteria your body needs are definitely steps in the right direction.

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