More and more medical research emerges annually suggesting the beneficial effects of probiotics, but there are so many different strains and different probiotic supplements that it can be confusing to consumers to make an informed purchase. And the fact that some probiotic brands market by sex can make the search even more confusing.
But are there probiotic ingredients specifically proven to boost women's health? If so, which probiotic supplements contain these ingredients? What added ingredients should probiotic consumers look out for that may be unhealthy? And how do the top brands compare on per-serving price?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review medical studies on probiotics to determine if there are specific strains found to benefit women's health.
We'll explain the three criteria we recommend consumers look out for when purchasing a probiotic supplement, and provide our top picks across five categories (Overall, Research-Backed, Menopause, Low-Cost, Powder).
Our goal is for this article to be the most comprehensive and informative guide to choosing a healthy and effective probiotic for women on the internet.
What Specific Probiotics Work for Women?
While both sexes benefit from probiotic supplementation generally, there are some research studies suggesting that specific probiotics can support women's health.
A medical review published in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology documented that a species of probiotics called Lactobacillus “could be a protective factor in healthy women.”
This type of probiotic colonizes both the gut and the vagina, and is associated with lower urinary tract infection (UTI) risk in women. Lactobacillus bacteria also help promote integrity of the gut barrier.
A 2006 clinical trial found that a commercial probiotic called VSL #3 was effective in reducing the incidence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) because it suppressed the growth of a pathogenic type of bacteria.
Both of the above-referenced studies suggest that oral intake of probiotics can cause favorable changes to vaginal microflora, which is a term that refers to the bacterial cultures that inhabit the vagina.
The benefit of probiotics for women isn’t solely related to vaginal health. A 2009 medical review documented the many health benefits of probiotics (and prebiotics) for women:
Not only can probiotics be an effective natural treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation in women, they also are documented in the above-linked study to promote bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis (which impacts older women more than any other demographic).
Since women are at significantly higher risk than men for osteoporosis due to lower average bone density, these are important findings.
But what should women look for women choosing a probiotic brand? We'll answer that question in the next section of this article.
What Makes a Good Women's Probiotic?
There are three main criteria we recommend women look out for when shopping for a probiotic supplement: clean formulation, product certifications and price.
Clean formulation means an ingredient list with research-backed probiotic strains, without unhealthy filler ingredients like added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Many probiotic supplements have no active ingredients other than probiotic strains, which makes this category easier to analyze than multi-ingredient supplements.
Product certifications is a secondary consideration. They’re beneficial, but not absolutely necessary in our opinion. Product certifications can help ensure the integrity of a product, because the certifying agency will test the product for label accuracy, purity and sometimes contaminants.
Product certifications like ConsumerLab and Informed Choice make it easy for consumers to know they're getting a clean and accurately-dosed supplement.
Price is obviously an important consideration, especially since many probiotic supplements are expensive. When we compare the price between products, we use price-per-serving because probiotics are sold at such a wide range of servings that overall price isn't particularly useful for comparisons.
In the next five sections of this article, we'll recommend our Best Overall, Best Research-Backed, Best for Menopause, Best Low-Cost, and Best Powder probiotics for women.
Best Overall – Ritual Synbiotic+
Ritual Synbiotic+ is our top overall women's probiotic pick.
This supplement passes the clean formulation test because it has research-backed ingredients at effective doses without any harmful filler ingredients.
The core active ingredient is a probiotic blend containing a Lactobacillus strain. As we documented in the Medical Research section, this is an effective choice for a probiotic for women.
Synbiotic+ also contains a prebiotic blend and an active ingredient called tributyrin which has been found in medical studies to have favorable effects on inflammatory and metabolic pathways.
The price of Synbiotic+ is $59.99 for a one-time purchase, which equates to $2 per serving.
For what it's worth, this probiotic also has the best branding and packaging by far of any product in this article.
Interested consumers can check out Ritual Synbiotic+ at this link to the product page on the brand's official Amazon store.
Best Research-Backed – VSL #3
VSL #3 is one of the most well-studied dietary supplements on the market, not just in the probiotic category but overall.
Searching “VSL 3” in the medical database PubMed returns over 700 results. Not many probiotics are backed by as much legitimate medical research as this product.
VSL #3 has a clean formulation: the only active ingredients include a probiotic blend of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. The inactive ingredients are all safe and non-toxic excipients such as cornstarch and stearic acid.
As we documented in the research section of this article, this supplement is clinically shown to reduce incidence of BV in women.
We can't find any product certifications of note for this product, but this consideration matters less for a brand that's so well-studied in clinical research.
The price of VSL #3 is $74.95 for a one-time purchase, which equates to $2.50 per serving.
Interested consumers can check out VSL #3 at this link to the product page on the brand's official website.
Best for Menopause – Provitalize
Provitalize is one of the few probiotic supplements specifically formulated for menopausal women.
Ironically we reviewed this product poorly in our Provitalize reviews article due to the brand’s weight loss claims (which we consider highly questionable).
This product has a clean formulation, and one of the species of probiotics used (L. gasseri) was shown in a 2021 clinical trial to alleviate postmenopausal symptoms.
Two other active ingredients in this supplement have research backing for menopausal symptom relief. Turmeric extract is included at a dose of 350 milligrams (mg), and black pepper extract is included at a dose of 3 mg.
Medical research shows that black pepper extract increases bioavailability of curcumin (the predominant chemical compound in turmeric extract) by up to 2000%. And early research suggests that curcumin may alleviate menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and anxiety.
We can't find any third-party certifications for this supplement on the brand's product page.
The price of Provitalize is $49 for a one-time purchase, which equates to $1.63 per serving.
Interested consumers can check out Provitalize at this link to the product page on the brand's official Amazon store.
Best Low-Cost – GenWell Probiotics
GenWell Women's Multi-Strain Probiotic is our top low-cost women's probiotic pick.
This supplement passes our standard for clean formulation, because its active ingredients are a probiotic blend containing 50 billion CFU, and its inactive ingredients are safe and non-toxic.
50 billion CFU and 15 probiotic strains is an impressive potency for a probiotic that costs under $10.
GenWell's probiotic doesn't appear to have any third-party certifications, but this is standard for supplements competing on price.
The price of GenWell Women's Multi-Strain Probiotic is $9.99 for a one-time purchase, which equates to $0.33 per serving.
Interested consumers can check out GenWell Women's Multi-Strain Probiotic at this link to the product page on the brand's official Amazon store.
Best Powder – Nature Target
Nature Target 4-In-1 Probiotics is our top powder probiotic for women.
This supplement passes our clean formulation test because it is free from unhealthy additives.
Beyond probiotics, this supplement also contains active ingredients that support women's health including d-mannose which is a simple sugar that's clinically shown to reduce symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI) in women.
Cranberry is also included in Nature Target's supplement, and this fruit has been shown in research studies to prevent UTI in women, as we documented in our review of women's health supplement Uqora.
We can't locate any third-party certifications for this supplement.
The price of Nature Target 4-In-1 Probiotics is $19.99 for a one-time purchase, which equates to $0.44 per serving.
Interested consumers can check out Nature Target 4-In-1 Probiotics at this link to the product page on the brand's official Amazon store.