Gut and Skin Health Expert Blog | The Y Collection

Beyond Probiotics: Everything You Need to Know About Women’s Gut Health

by Jelena Vulevic on Aug 28, 2023

The gut harmonises vital processes like digestion, immunity, mood, metabolism, sleep and skin health, influencing overall well-being. Nurturing gut health refines this conductor's baton, optimising every system for a flourishing body.

In this article, we present the knowledge to empower women about their gut health as we explore the human body’s complex symphony of functions centred around the gut - its master conductor. Additionally, we delve into the significant role of sex hormones in shaping gut health and its impact on various conditions and diseases.

Good gut health is the key to your overall health. Find out if Y GUT sensitive is right for you.


The Gut: An Overlooked Key to Well-being

The gut is a vital component of overall well-being. It not only breaks down food into nutrients but it also houses a majority of our immune cells, acting as a crucial defender of our immune system. Within the gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS), often referred to as the "second brain," independently regulates various gastrointestinal processes that impact the entire body. The gut microbiota, the gastrointestinal epithelial barrier and their interplay are the two main determinants of gut health.


Understanding Gender Disparities in Women’s Gut Health

Gut health varies between men and women due to differences in gut bacteria, hormone processing, immune responses and susceptibility to digestive disorders. Scientists call this interplay the "microgenderome." Sex hormones like oestrogen and testosterone shape gut bacteria, impacting the immune system and disease vulnerability. Understanding these connections can lead to personalised approaches for improving women’s gut and overall health based on gender differences. 

The Journey of Gut Health Throughout a Woman's Life

From puberty to menopause, a woman's gut health embarks on a transformative journey driven by hormonal fluxes. Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can impact gut health, while menopause ushers in its own set of challenges with hormonal changes influencing the gut microbiome, immune function, emotional processing and chronic diseases risk.


The Menstrual Cycle & Gut Health

Fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone intricately impact gut function. They can alter gut motility, leading to changes in bowel habits, while also influencing gut permeability, potentially causing bloating and discomfort. Hormones also impact the composition of gut bacteria, crucial for immune function, inflammation regulation, and overall gut health. These fluctuations during the menstrual cycle extend beyond the gut, affecting mood, irritability, fatigue, and food cravings. The gut-brain axis further shapes these effects through intricate communication.

Pregnancy & Gut Health 

Pregnancy triggers notable changes to a woman's body, including gut health. Hormonal fluctuations, immune adaptations, and shifts in dietary patterns contribute to these changes. Increased progesterone levels affect gut motility, causing constipation and bloating. Gastrointestinal muscle tone can also be influenced, leading to acid reflux and heartburn. The immune system undergoes modifications to support the developing foetus, impacting gut health and susceptibility to gastrointestinal conditions. Additionally, dietary habits and nutrient needs are altered during pregnancy, with cravings and aversions affecting food choices. These dietary changes can impact gut microbiota composition, affecting the health of both mother and foetus.

Postpartum Recovery & Gut Health 

Postpartum gut health is influenced by various factors, including hormonal changes, physical stress, dietary adjustments, and childbirth aftermath. These can impact gut bacteria composition, leading to an imbalance in the microbiome. Digestive issues like bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements may arise. Constipation can occur due to hormonal changes, reduced activity, pain medication, and dietary shifts, contributing to concerns like haemorrhoids. Hormonal changes affect gut motility and digestion, potentially causing changes in bowel habits such as diarrhoea or sluggishness. 

The Perimenopause & Gut Health

Perimenopause, the phase before menopause, brings hormonal changes that affect various aspects of a woman's health, including gut health. Fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone levels during this phase influence the gut microbiome, gut motility, and digestion. Oestrogen’s decline can lead to signs of an unhealthy gut, like bloating and discomfort while also impacting the balance of gut bacteria. Perimenopause is linked to an increased risk of gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), causing digestive discomfort and symptoms.

Post Menopause & Gut Health 

Post menopause follows the end of menstrual periods and a significant decrease in hormone production, especially oestrogen, which can impact gut health. Oestrogen maintains the gastrointestinal tract and affects gut bacteria composition. Lower oestrogen levels may lead to changes in gut motility, digestion, and bacterial balance, raising the risk of constipation, bloating, and discomfort. Hormonal fluctuations and natural ageing contribute to these symptoms, while the decline in oestrogen can influence the gut-brain axis, potentially impacting mood and emotional well-being. These changes increase the risk of various chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, diabetes and arthritis.


Female-Specific Medications & Gut Health 

Female-specific medications like oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) impact gut health. These medications contain hormones that affect the gut microbiota and digestive processes in women. 

  • Oral contraceptives contain synthetic hormones that mimic oestrogen and progesterone, influencing gut motility and bowel habits. They can also alter the gut microbiome affecting the balance of beneficial bacteria. 
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is prescribed to alleviate menopause symptoms and it also influences gut motility and gut microbiota composition. Oestrogen supplementation may improve gut transit time and reduce constipation risk.


Exercise & Gut Health 

Intense physical training impacts the gastrointestinal system, particularly for women athletes, who face unique challenges due to increased energy demands, dietary choices, and physiological changes from training. Biological differences between men and women influence exercise performance, recovery, and injury susceptibility due to hormonal factors. Vigorous exercise can affect gut motility, causing exercise-induced gastrointestinal distress, bloating, or diarrhoea. It can also lead to "leaky gut," contributing to systemic inflammation.


Diet, Weight & Gut Health 

Female hormones impact both gut health and weight at various stages of a woman's life.

  • During puberty, hormonal changes lead to increased body fat deposition, especially in the hips, thighs, and breasts. Hormones like oestrogen and progesterone affect appetite regulation and fat storage. 
  • The menstrual cycle brings hormonal shifts influencing food cravings, appetite, and water retention, leading to weight  fluctuations and changes in gut function during different phases. 
  • Pregnancy involves significant hormonal changes and natural weight gain, which can impact gut health and increase the risk of complications if excessive. 
  • Menopause, the cessation of menstrual periods, is associated with hormonal changes leading to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal region, due to declining oestrogen levels, changing fat distribution and a decreased rate of metabolism.

If you are concerned about your weight, learn more about gut health and weight loss in our recent article.

Female-Specific Diseases & Gut Health  

Women’s health shows certain distinctions from men’s, with females generally living longer and being less susceptible to infectious diseases but more susceptible to immune system mediated diseases. Around 80% of individuals with autoimmune diseases are women. Gut health plays a significant role in various conditions that exhibit sex-specific disparities:

Women's Gut Health Supplements

Women have numerous supplement options for promoting gut health and overall well-being. These supplements provide targeted nutrients, foster a balanced gut microbiota, and address various gut-related concerns. Common options for women's gut health supplements:

  1. Probiotics: Contain beneficial bacteria that aid in restoring and maintaining a healthy balance of gut microbiota, supporting digestion and immunity. Look for strains tailored to women’s health. Good examples of women’s probiotic for gut health include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, or Bifidobacterium breve.
  2. Prebiotics: Types of fibre that nourish beneficial gut bacteria, promoting a healthy gut environment. Seek out women’s gut health supplements that specifically stimulate the growth of bacteria relevant to female health, like the one found in Y GUT sensitive.
  3. Postbiotics: Beneficial substances produced by probiotic bacteria such as those found in Y SKIN and Y GUT sensitive, supporting the gastrointestinal barrier function and preventing the development of a "leaky gut."
  4. Digestive Enzymes: Assist in breaking down and absorbing nutrients, helpful for digestive issues or reduced enzyme production. Common digestive enzymes include amylase, protease, and lipase.
  5. Fibre Supplements: Support healthy digestion and promote regular bowel movements by providing a favourable environment for beneficial gut bacteria to thrive. Look for supplements containing soluble and insoluble fibre, such as glucomannan, as found in Y GUT sensitive.
  6. Herbal Supplements: Provide relief from digestive discomfort and promote gut health.

Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before adding supplements to our routine, ensuring personalised recommendations that complement a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Key takeaways 

In conclusion, recognizing the unique physiological differences between the sexes, it becomes essential to adopt a more sex-specific approach to gut health. By understanding the interplay between hormones, gut microbiota, immune responses, and the gut-brain axis, we can offer women tailored solutions to address their specific gut health needs. Empowering women with knowledge and providing personalised interventions will pave the way for improved overall health, well-being, and disease prevention. Embracing a sex-specific gut health approach is a crucial step towards optimising women's health and promoting a harmonious balance between our bodies and the intricate symphony of the gut.


Good gut health is the key to your overall health. Find out if The Y Collection is right for you.