The ability of probiotics to improve bowel habits or transit time has been shown in healthy populations. Additional data are required to support the use of specific probiotics to improve gastrointestinal (GI) well-being. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of consuming fermented milk (FM) on GI well-being, digestive symptoms and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) amongst women without diagnosed GI disorders. In this double-blind, controlled, parallel-design study, subjects were randomised to ingest daily either 2 × 125 g FM containing Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010 and yoghurt strains or a control non-fermented dairy product for 4 weeks followed by a 4-week wash-out period. GI well-being and digestive symptoms were assessed weekly. HRQoL was measured every 4 weeks. Data were analysed using analysis of covariance and logistic regression, correcting for baseline values on the full analysis set population of 197 women (aged 18–60 years). The percentage of women reporting an improvement in their GI well-being was significantly (P < 0·01) higher in the FM group v. the control group (OR 1·69; 95 % CI 1·17, 2·45). A significantly (P < 0·05) more pronounced decrease in the composite score of digestive symptoms was observed in the FM group when comparing with the control group (least squares mean − 0·57; 95 % CI − 1·12, − 0·02). Among HRQoL dimensions, the digestive comfort score was significantly (P < 0·05) improved in the FM group compared with the control group. The present study showed that the daily consumption of a specific FM is able to improve GI well-being and digestive symptoms in adult women without GI disorders.