I know you keep seeing the tag “probiotics for women” everywhere, but I bet it takes you some time before you encounter one shouting “probiotics for men”. Therefore, it is in order for you to be curious whether probiotics are indeed more important for women than they are for men.
The benefits of probiotics extend to both genders but women might need probiotics more than men because they are statistically more likely to experience gut health issues compared to males. Women also have to worry about the balance of their vaginal microbiome in addition that of their gut microbiome. Therefore, it is common for some probiotics to be designed with the aim of meeting health needs that are unique to women.
When we take probiotics, we are trying to replenish beneficial bacteria that we should already have in the first place. A person with a perfect balance of bacteria does not need probiotics to start with. Therefore, only people with an imbalance of healthy bacteria need probiotics in the first place, whether they are men or women. An important consideration is whether women are more likely to suffer from microbiota imbalance as compared to men.
Are Women More Likely to Suffer from Gut Microbiota Imbalances?
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, women are generally more likely to experience chronic constipation as compared to men, they are 2 to 6 times more susceptible to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and have more frequent episodes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at the ratio of 2:1. It is clear that women are more susceptible to gastrointestinal issues as compared to men. Subsequently, it might be more important for women to maintain optimal gut health through novel solutions.
Another reason why women might be nearer to the probiotics issue than men is because their reproductive system is situated in the lower abdomen. Therefore, women are more sensitive to abdominal pains and other issues such as bloating. The result is that women will be more aware of any digestive problems as compared to men. In comparison, men are more susceptible to upper abdomen issues such as acid reflux and ulcers.
There is research that shows that boys and girls have relatively the same microbial diversity until they reach puberty. The insinuation is that hormonal differences have an impact on microbial diversity. The repercussions of these findings is that having a well-balanced microbiota will have an impact on women’s overall quest for hormonal balance.
The Need For Probiotics and The Stress Factor
We should also consider the role that stress plays in the course of the manifestation of gut-related problems such as IBS and indigestion. The APA (American Psychological Association) has collected data that shows that women are more likely to experience stress and its physical manifestations such as crying, indigestion, headaches, and an upset stomach. Therefore, by taking probiotics that might have an impact on mood and digestive functions might be of more importance to men than it is to women.
The need to manage stress as part of overall wellness is important for women than it is for men. For instance, most modern women also have to deal with “emotional labor”, a term that was coined in the 1980s to refer to work that women do, but which goes unnoticed in the context of social setups. Stress management and the need to reduce cortisol levels is a consideration for the probiotic and prebiotic makers who target women more than men.
And of Course…The Vaginal Microbiome
The main reason why you keep seeing more probiotics being targeted at women than men is because that women have the need to maintain a balance of their vaginal microbiome, on top of their gut microbiome. Statistics indicate that about 75% of women will experience having a yeast infection at one point in their lives. The probiotic industry has focused on this market by providing a number of supplements with bacteria strains that can solve the problem of yeast infections among women.
Probiotics that target women also consider the importance of having a balanced vaginal microbiome. These products achieve this by promoting a health gut microbiome, which in turn supports a healthy vaginal microbiome. There is enough research to show how a well-balanced vaginal microbiome supports various functions such as reproductive health and bladder infections. A good number of women also appreciate the other benefits having a balanced vaginal microbiome such as lack of bad odors and minimal discharge. Products that contain lactobacillus are some of the most effective when it comes to maintaining a balance of vagina microbiome.
This is not a difficult case to make. When it comes to the need for having a probiotic lifestyle, stakes are higher for women than they are for men. Nevertheless, you should not forget that this blog was started by a man, and the research was also compiled by him. Therefore, we all stand to gain from probiotics, irrespective of our gender.
The missus tells me that after her C-Section she found out the hard way that her vaginal microbiome balance was out of order. The realization had as much emotional turmoil as it had physical impacts. Luckily for her, she lives with a dude who preaches probiotics and drinks probiotics. She approves the need for probiotics for women.