Probiotics for women’s health: review highlights potential benefits of early use

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Probiotics microbiome Gut health PCOS women's health

A new review emphasises the potential benefits of females supplementing with probiotics from childhood, following the identification of the occurrence of dysbiosis in obese women suffering with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

The review also observed that probiotics/synbiotics were effective in improving hormonal profiles, lipid levels, and inflammation associated with the condition in studied adolescents, suggesting its potential for improving symptoms.

The Italian researchers conclude: “The effectiveness of probiotics/synbiotics in PCOS has been supported. The literature suggests that probiotic/symbiotic supplementation may ameliorate hormonal profiles, inflammatory indicators, and lipid metabolism disturbances associated with PCOS.”

“PCOS may originate in the very early stages of development, showing clinical features later in adolescence; microbiome monitoring and early probiotic supplementation during childhood and adolescence could be useful to modulate dysbiosis in order to prevent it as a modifiable cause of PCOS,” they stress, highlighting the potential for supplementation in adolescents with obesity.

PCOS prevalence

PCOS is a highly common condition amongst women of reproductive age, affecting up to 15%​ of the population. It has been defined as having two or more of specified criteria​, which includes the presence of clinical or biochemical hyperandrogenism, oligo-anovulation, and polycystic ovary morphology identified on ultrasonography.

It has been identified​ that obesity plays an important role in the development of PCOS, due to the majority of affected women being overweight or obese. In addition, evidence​ has suggested that the co-occurrence can lead to a more severe presentation of the condition.

The noted similarities of insulin resistance and its metabolic effects, adipokine secretion, and energy expenditure changes in both obesity and PCOS have further highlighted this link between the conditions, with studies​ further reinforcing this hypothesis. In addition, research​ has noted a significant role in the gut microbiota in the development and progression of PCOS.

Thus, the literature review sought to investigate the available evidence on PCOS and probiotics in obese adolescents to determine the potential effects of probiotic supplementation on the condition.


The researchers collated a total of 56 relevant studies for inclusion in the review, following the assessment of relevant studies from the databases of PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science using specific inclusion criteria.

Following analysis, a link between obesity, PCOS, and dysbiosis was confirmed, with studies highlighted prevalent dysbiosis occurring in women with PCOS compared with healthy controls.

Furthermore, the research suggesting that supplementation with probiotics/synbiotics in women with PCOS may improve hormonal profiles, lipid metabolism, and inflammation, with evidence highlighting improvements in BMI, insulin, and HOMA-IR.


Explaining the findings, the report states: “Studies have indicated that the gut microbiome of women diagnosed with PCOS is characterized by lower diversity compared to women without PCOS. This decrease in α and β microbial diversity has been associated with hyperandrogenism and an elevation in systemic inflammation levels.

“The decrease in microbial diversity observed in PCOS is often marked by a reduction in beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Conversely, there is often an increase in pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia and Shigella.”

Thus, the findings suggest that supplementation with probiotics containing such bacteria may be beneficial in affected women, yet it is stressed that further studies are required to confirm this association.



Source: Nutrients

“Probiotics and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Perspective for Management in Adolescents with Obesity”

by Valeria Calcaterra, Virginia Rossi, Giulia Massini, Francesca Casini, Gianvincenzo Zuccotti and Valentina Fabiano


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