Can probiotics affect your period? The answer is yes.
Surprisingly, probiotics can affect your period in many ways.
In this post, learn about the ways that probiotics can affect your menstrual cycle.
Keep in mind that many other factors are involved in having a healthy period.
Table of Contents
Can Probiotics Affect Your Period?
Probiotics have many health benefits. One of these benefits includes its positive effects on female health.
New research even shows that probiotics influence the amount of hormones that your body has throughout the month.
This is especially true if you have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome. Sadly, this condition negatively affects your reproductive health.
By helping support a healthy microbiome, probiotics help the body eliminate undesirable hormones from the body.
The way probiotics do this is by enhancing the enzyme called B-glucuronidase. This enzyme helps break down estrogen. By breaking estrogen down it is then inactive and doesn’t recirculate into the bloodstream.
Too much estrogen can cause women to have abnormal periods including heavy periods.
Excess estrogen can also cause:
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Mood swings
- Increase the risk of PCOS
- Increase breast cancer risk
Also by decreasing stress and anxiety, probiotics can help balance hormone levels in the body. This ultimately helps to normalize periods in many women.
Probiotics also decrease PMS symptoms.
How Probiotics Affect PCOS
The health of the gut affects the health of the reproductive organs in all women.
Probiotics can help:
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve metabolism
- Improve hormone levels
- Help reduce toxins
Unfortunately, if you live in the United States, you have at least a 1 in 5 chance of having PCOS. Sadly, this condition reduces the quality of life of women.
PCOS also causes excess hair growth, changes menstrual cycles, and even reduces fertility according to the Journal of Reproductive Science.
As lifestyles move more towards processed foods and toxins, the percentage of women with PCOS is expected to continue to increase as well.
The good news is that eating a healthy diet and adding in probiotics may reduce the symptoms of PCOS. A healthy lifestyle with probiotics may even improve fertility.
For example, one recent study found that a multi-strain probiotics supplement along with improved diet and lifestyle helped to make women’s menstrual cycles more regular.
Fascinatingly, the probiotics used also helped to improve sex hormones by reducing testosterone levels. These probiotics also reduce belly fat and improve the waist-to-hip ratio.
Also, these women had an increase in quality of life compared to a placebo.
The probiotic types used in this study were:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Prebiotics called fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
Other research shows that using probiotics helps to reduce excessive hair growth known as hirsutism in these women. It may do so by increasing sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and reducing testosterone.
Probiotics Plus Metformin Work Better Than Metformin Alone
Yet another study found that the use of probiotics improved menstrual cycle regularity.
In this study, probiotics also increased the rate of ovulation and helped balance hormones.
For interventions, they used either metformin, metformin plus probiotics, or probiotics alone in this study.
Interestingly, improvements in fertility were best in women getting both metformin plus probiotics. An impressive 75% achieved ovulation versus only 55% in the metformin-only group.
Additionally, another study found that using probiotics increased the rates of pregnancy in women with PCOS.
Probiotics Reduce Endometriosis Symptoms
Another common cause of period problems is a condition called endometriosis.
Endometriosis affects between 6-10% of women who are of childbearing age.
A recent research study found that the use of L. gasseri probiotic supplements was effective in reducing endometriosis symptoms.
The women who received the probiotic had a reduction in menstrual pain and abnormal periods compared to the women in the placebo group.
Researchers indicate that this probiotic strain helps to improve the body’s immune response. Immune health helps to reduce endometrial issues.
Other Causes of Abnormal Periods
While we have reviewed some of the most common causes of abnormal menstruation including PCOS and endometriosis, there are a lot of other reasons that you can have irregular periods.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, abnormal periods can also be caused by:
- Excessive exercise
- Thyroid disorders
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Multiple kinds of medications
- Eating disorders
- Uterine fibroids
- Endometrial polyps
- Birth control
- Sexually transmitted diseases
Probiotics Reduce Harmful Bacteria in the Reproductive Tract
Another major benefit of probiotics is that they help balance the healthy bacteria that reside in the reproductive system, especially the vagina.
This is called the vaginal microbiome.
Abnormal bacteria growth in the vagina is known as bacterial vaginosis.
Luckily, a systematic review of clinical research in women with bacterial vaginosis found probiotics helpful for this condition.
The use of probiotics reduces the risk of bacterial vaginosis by more than 50%.
In these studies, the most common type of probiotics used is called Lactobacillus probiotics.
Using Lactobacillus probiotics makes sense. This is because they help produce lactic acid which favors healthy bacteria instead of harmful bacteria.
Fascinatingly, healthy probiotics may even reduce the chances of getting severe bacterial infections in the vagina called toxic shock syndrome (TSS). However, more research is needed.
Probiotics Can Affect Your Period by Easing Perimenopause
While entering perimenopause is natural, some of the symptoms can be lessened by using probiotics.
Perimenopause often happens between the ages of 45-55 for women.
A common issue of perimenopause is irregular periods.
Not surprisingly, the menstrual cycle during this time of life can be anything but normal. However, you can help manage your symptoms naturally with probiotics.
For example, probiotic yogurt improves both sleep quality and mood in postmenopausal women.
Recent research shows that using multi-strain probiotics increases the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone in perimenopausal women and postmenopausal women too.
By doing so, women enjoy a reduction in period issues and symptoms of menopause as well.
Consuming probiotics and eating probiotic-rich foods may also reduce the risk of diseases of menopause. This includes bone loss, memory issues, breast cancer, and heart issues.
In women suffering from menopause, the use of Lactobacillus acidophilus probiotics improved:
- Quality of life
- Physical health
- Improved sexual function
These improvements indicate that probiotics may be a nice alternative for women who need to or choose to avoid hormone replacement therapy.
A natural way to get more probiotics in your diet is to eat probiotic-rich foods daily.
However, be aware that some probiotic foods are high in sugar, so this may reduce their benefits.
Make sure to choose yogurts, kefir, and kombucha that don’t have added sugars for the most benefit.
Probiotic-rich foods include:
Many people struggle to eat these foods regularly.
A probiotic supplement may be helpful to reduce period symptoms.
Taking probiotics is a good option to help optimize your menstrual health as well as mental health. Doing so may help correct hormonal imbalances that your body has.
In general, the more probiotic strains you can get, the higher the chances that you may have symptom relief.
Also, a general rule of thumb is to consume around 20 billion colony-forming units per day of probiotics.
However, if you use soil-based probiotics such as Bacillus probiotics, you can use lower doses to achieve benefits.
These types of probiotics naturally encourage the growth of healthy bacterial strains in the gut like Lactobacillus. Bacillus strains are known to help metabolize estrogen too.
Keep in mind that most research has focused on using Lactobacillus strains.
The top probiotic picks are Gastro Armor and Amy Myers MD.
More reading: Who Should Avoid Probiotics
Healing the Gut for Healthy Periods
Beyond using probiotics, maintaining a healthy microbiome requires a balanced diet.
To heal the gut to support healthy periods, you may also want to consider:
- Healthy protein
- Healthy fats
- Fiber-rich foods
- Minimizing processed foods
- Decreasing sugar in your diet
- Gluten-free diet
- A natural multivitamin with minerals
- Adequate vitamin D
- Eating collagen-rich foods
- Vitamin A
- Checking your iron levels
Vitamin A and iron are both important for maintaining normal hormonal levels.
In a nutshell, if you want to support healthy hormones including estrogen levels, you should focus on eating well, managing stress, and including probiotics in your routine daily.
Can probiotics cause menstrual bleeding?
Probiotics support normal menstrual cycles but are not known to cause abnormal menstrual bleeding.
Do probiotics make your period come early?
There is no evidence that probiotics cause a period to be too early.
Will probiotics shorten your period?
They may help reduce abnormally long periods by helping balance hormones.
Does using probiotics make your period longer?
No research has been done to show that probiotics make periods more lengthy.
Do probiotics help with menstrual cramps?
Yes, they may reduce menstrual cramps. This is true, especially in women struggling with conditions like endometriosis and heavy periods.
Can stress delay a period?
Stress can alter the duration between periods by disrupting normal hormonal patterns. It can also cause periods to be too close together in some instances.
Can other supplements affect the menstrual cycle?
Yes. If you are deficient in iron, taking iron supplements can help normalize periods as can vitamin A. Certain herbal supplements can also impact the length and severity of periods and menstrual cramps.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.