3 Surprising Probiotic Benefits For Men + How To Choose The Best One
After the age of 30, men naturally experience a decline in testosterone, a hormone that plays a vital role in fertility and sperm production. According to a study published in Andrology, supplementing with probiotics may help increase testosterone levels, while also normalizing other important sex hormones—a duo that may improve sperm quality.* It’s worth nothing, though, that the researchers from the study used prebiotics, too.This also ties into sexual health since low testosterone levels can directly affect your libido. On the other hand, when your testosterone goes up, so does your sex drive. Testosterone also regulates muscle mass and strength and bone density and is involved in the production of red blood cells.
Should men take probiotics?
Most experts agree, with a resounding yes, that men should take probiotics. And so should almost everyone else. While it’s impossible to put an exact number on how many folks have suboptimal gut balance or GI health, it’s safe to say that a large number of people are affected. And thanks to a reliance on processed foods, low-fiber diets, and increasing stress levels, the number is only increasing.
Since taking a daily probiotic is completely safe for most people (although you may experience some initial side effects), according to integrative physician Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., there’s no harm in trying one to see if it works for you. If you’re immunocompromised or have pre-existing medical conditions, double check with your doctor first, though.
Probiotic benefits for men.
While most of the specific benefits of probiotics for men are built around correlation, rather than a direct cause and effect, there’s promising research that a high-quality probiotic supplement can help support various aspects of health.*
Support sexual health (and mood).
Healthy levels of serotonin are also important for normal erectile function (in addition to balanced mood). While there haven’t been any studies exploring the direct link between ejaculation and probiotics, research shows that probiotic supplementation may boost levels of serotonin in the brain.*
Support healthy testosterone levels.
After the age of 30, men naturally experience a decline in testosterone, a hormone that plays a vital role in fertility and sperm production. According to a study published in Andrology, supplementing with probiotics may help increase testosterone levels, while also normalizing other important sex hormones—a duo that may improve sperm quality.* It’s worth nothing, though, that the researchers from the study used prebiotics, too.
This also ties into sexual health since low testosterone levels can directly affect your libido. On the other hand, when your testosterone goes up, so does your sex drive. Testosterone also regulates muscle mass and strength and bone density and is involved in the production of red blood cells.
Support prostate health.
All of the research surrounding probiotics and prostate health is a bit preliminary, but it’s worth mentioning that there’s been some promising evidence that suggests probiotics may help support a healthy prostate gland.*
Aside from these specific benefits for men, there are general benefits of taking probiotics, too. Probiotics:
- Support digestion and contribute to bowel regularity.*
- Help you maintain a healthy weight.*
- Help regulate mood.*
- Strengthen and support your immune system.*
- Promote metabolic health.*
The best probiotics for men.
There are several probiotics that are specifically marketed to men, but a lot of what you see is just that, marketing. Narrowing down the best probiotics for men takes the same due diligence as any other category, but don’t feel like you’re boxed into specific brands just because they say “for men.”
While quality is always important when it comes to supplements, board-certified Vincent M. Pedre, M.D., says, "That goes triple for probiotics." According to Pedre, what you’re actually getting doesn’t always match the claims on the bottle. Here are some easy-to-follow guidelines that can help you narrow down the choices:
- Choose a probiotic that contains billions—not millions—of organisms (or colony-forming units, CFU) per dose. Some of the bacteria in probiotic supplements don’t make it past the acid in your stomach. To account for this loss, higher CFUs help. With that said, CFU dosing should ultimately be rooted in clinical research studies.
- Look for bacterial diversity. Instead of opting for a probiotic that contains one or two types of bacteria, find one that contains multiple strains, including strains from well-studied genera like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus, and Saccharomyces.
- Avoid unnecessary ingredients. Many probiotics contain binders and fillers like lactose and/or cornstarch. These ingredients can contribute to digestive upset in some people, which is all-around counterproductive.
- Check the manufacturing date. Most high-quality probiotics are good for two years after the manufacturing date, as long as they've been stored properly (more on that here). It doesn’t matter whether the probiotic requires refrigeration or not—both types can be equally effective—just double check that you’re storing them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Go dairy-free. Many probiotic supplements are made with dairy, but Pedre recommends choosing one that isn’t, especially if you’re sensitive to it. (Check out our guide to vegan probiotics.)
There’s highly promising research that probiotics can support overall health for everyone.* Aside from some potential specific benefits for men, there are also general benefits to consider, like promoting proper digestion and nutrient absorption, easing bloat, and supporting a healthy weight.* All of these benefits make it worth adding a high-quality probiotic supplement to your routine (after you get the OK from your doctor).