Can Probiotics Affect Your Hormones?

Written by: Kari Raman, PharmD, RPh
Published April 7, 2024

Hormones are responsible for so many aspects of our bodies and moods, it’s not surprising that people would wonder if probiotics can affect your hormones. I don’t really get asked questions about hormones and probiotics that much at the pharmacy, but I think it’s an important topic, and my articles about how probiotics can affect your mood and PMS symptoms/period are pretty popular, so it makes sense to go deeper on hormones specifically. 

This post is going to focus on stress hormones and hormones related to perimenopause and menopause and how probiotics play a role in hormone regulation. Throughout this blog I have mentioned a few ways that probiotics can benefit your health. It is thought that probiotics can affect hormones in the body indirectly through modulating the gut microbiota. I’ll get into more detail on how researchers think that might work, and while there is still a lot of science to be researched, as a pharmacist I think there is some very exciting information coming out on how your gut, probiotics and hormones interact. 

What does the research say?

The first study addresses the effect of probiotics on perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms and heart health. This study is a randomized double-blind, and placebo-controlled study. The group that was studied was relatively small, but the study did show that probiotics support hormone homeostasis in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women in this group.

The second topic includes lactobacillus plantarum and its effect on reducing the stress hormone cortisol. This paper and this article found that probiotics helped improve the gut microbiome and this positively affected the stress response by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol and additionally the subjects’ physiological stress rating.

How do probiotics help balance hormones?

Keeping in mind the hormones we are referring to in this article, mainly estrogen and cortisol. We will take a quick look at how probiotics potentially help balance hormones. It is thought that some strains of probiotics produce an enzyme that can metabolize estrogen contributing to its balance in the body. As for cortisol, there is thought to be a connection between the gut microbiota and the CNS pathway potentially balancing the effects of cortisol and the body and mood.

How to take probiotics for hormone regulation

Taking probiotics for hormone regulation is going to be the same as if you were taking probiotics for any other health benefit. Follow the directions on the package and make sure that you store the product as the manufacturer recommends keeping the microorganisms alive and in good condition so they can do their job in your GI tract. You can also look at my post on when is the best time to take probiotics for the best results. It is also important to remember that a healthy diet and lifestyle will help get the best results while taking probiotics, whether it be for hormone regulation or any other health benefit probiotics are known to help with. It is imperative to remember that everyone is different and something that works for one person may not work for another and sometimes trial and error is the best approach to finding what works for you.

What are probiotics?

Before getting too deep into how probiotics might interact with hormones, it’s crucial to understand what probiotics are. Probiotics are live microorganisms, often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria, that may provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. Some are also yeasts, but the concept is pretty much the same. These benefits are thought to arise from the probiotics’ ability to positively influence the gut microbiota, a complex community of microorganisms living in our digestive system.

Types and sources 

Probiotics can be found in various foods, especially fermented ones, such as yogurt (read my article on how many probiotics are in Chobani yogurt), kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. I sometimes even get asked if apple cider vinegar has probiotics (not really, but I wrote an entire article on it). They are also available as dietary supplements. Common probiotic strains include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces. Some are bacteria, although a few are also yeasts. 

Potential health benefits

The potential health benefits of probiotics are wide-ranging. They might help in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, which is crucial for digestion, immune function, and even mental health. Probiotics may also aid in the management of certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and could play a role in preventing and treating diarrhea, especially when it’s caused by antibiotic use.

Probiotics and general well-being

There’s growing interest in the possible effects of probiotics on overall well-being. Some studies suggest that probiotics might support a healthy immune system, possibly reduce the risk of certain infections, and even impact mental health through the gut-brain axis. However, it’s important to note that more research is needed to fully understand these relationships.

Safety and considerations

While probiotics are generally considered safe for most people, it’s important to approach their use thoughtfully, especially in individuals with certain health conditions or weakened immune systems. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

In summary, probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, may offer health benefits, particularly for gut health. Their potential influence on hormone regulation, as discussed in this article, adds another intriguing aspect to the growing field of probiotic research. However, it’s essential to remember that the science of probiotics is still evolving, and their effects can vary from person to person.

Conclusion

Although these studies on probiotics affecting hormone regulation showed a positive correlation between a healthy microbiome and hormone regulation there is not enough information on this topic to use this theory in the clinical setting. If you are experiencing hormone changes or extreme stress, see your doctor to determine the route of the cause and for prescription treatment options if necessary.

While more research is needed to completely understand the correlation between probiotics and hormone regulation, using probiotics to keep a healthy and balanced gut microbiota may have positive effects on overall health and may potentially indirectly affect various hormonal pathways.  

Other Articles on Probiotics

I’ve written some other articles that you may find helpful on how to get the most out of probiotics. 

Exploring Probiotic Combinations: Interested in learning more about combining different probiotics? Check out our detailed guide, “Can You Combine Probiotics?“, where we delve into the nuances of mixing various probiotic strains and the potential benefits and considerations of such combinations.

In-Depth Product Review – Bio Complete 3: Curious about the specific probiotic products and their effectiveness? Don’t miss our comprehensive review, “Bio Complete 3 Review“, where I leverage my expertise as a practicing pharmacist to evaluate the claims, benefits, and user experiences associated with Bio Complete 3, a popular probiotic supplement.
Professional Insights on Microbiome Plus+: For a deeper understanding of specific probiotic supplements, read our expert review, “Microbiome Plus+ Review“. This review offers a pharmacist’s perspective on the science, efficacy, and suitability of Microbiome Plus+, providing insights that can help you make informed decisions about your probiotic choices.

Pharmacist Kari Raman

I’m Kari Raman PharmD, RPh, and I am a licensed, practicing pharmacist. I hold a Doctorate in Pharmacy from The University of the Pacific, and I’ve served patients in retail, compounding and hospital pharmacies.

Probiotics are confusing!

One of the most common questions I get asked by patients is about probiotics. And the truth is, probiotics are not as well understood by the healthcare community as they should be.

So I’ve been reading a lot of probiotic clinical trials, and sharing what I’m learning here.

I hope Pharmacist Probiotics helps you find out if there is a type of probiotic that works for you!