Vaginal Microbiome: How To Stay Balanced

What is the vaginal microbiome? We’ve heard of the gut microbiome – which is your ‘gut microbiome’ is made up of the trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mainly comprising bacteria, are involved in functions critical to your health and wellbeing. src

Vaginal Microbiome

But did you know about the vaginal microbiome?  This microbiome is an ecosystem of microorganisms completely unique to the vagina. An imbalanced vaginal ecosystem has been linked to cervical cancers, endometriosis, higher risk of HIV, and other infections such as thrush, Bacterial Vaginosis, and even HPV. Many women use pharmaceutical approach to treat vaginal infections, however, this doesn’t really work long term. This is because the over the counter treatments do not address the root cause which is the disturbance in the vaginal ecosystem and quite often in the gut microbiome, too.

Knowing about the vaginal ecosystem, knowing what to do to maintain a healthy vaginal microbial balance, and how this has the potential to prevent cervical cancers will save lives. 

Lactobacilli

While the gut microbiome thrives on being made up of a huge diversity of microbes, the vaginal ecosystem should be populated by mainly lactobacilli species, the most essential of which is Lactobacilli Crispatus. Crispatus makes lots of lactic acid – it’s the very same lactic acid we try to prevent during an exercise, but the vagina loves it.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid in the vagina is the key for killing off pathogens. There have been some initial tests and we still have so much to learn, but so far we know that only 25% of women have the healthy ecosystem filled with Crispatus species. If we remember that a healthy vaginal ecosystem supports not only vaginal health, but also pregnancy, and can prevent cervical cancers – we can see that as many as 75% of women may need additional support.

What Is The Cause

Why do so many women have an imbalanced vaginal ecosystem? It may be because they have not inherited the healthy Crispatus species from their mothers at birth because their mothers didn’t have it themselves. Or maybe they were cesarean-born which prevented them from getting any lactobacilli as they were being born.

Many women have also been exposed to antibiotics, and are nutritionally not supporting their microbiome. Cigarette smoking literally kills the vaginal lactobacilli, as do all the intimate soaps, sprays, lubricants, most sanitary products that have been bleached or perfumed, bath foams loaded with glitter and chemicals, wearing g-strings, and… stress. Learning how to relax and support the body’s responses to stress is so important for a good vaginal health. 

If you have a history of infertility, antibiotic use, UTIs, chronic pelvic pain, painful sex, vaginal discharge or dryness, then this screen may explain a lot for you and become the important foundation in your journey to wellness.

I have been asking all my clients to get pH strips and measure their vaginal pH. The number should be acidic, ideally below 4.4. If it’s above 4.4, we know we have some work to do.

How To Heal The Vaginal Microbiome

The easiest treatment is to use green tea. Green tea has many benefits as it is anti-aging, and anti-oxidant, and may help prevent cancer. In the vagina, green tea provides natural compounds called polyphenols which are the food that the healthy lactobacilli species love. It makes them grow and, at the same time, helps to diminish the number of pathogenic organisms.

How do you use green tea to heal your vagina? Make a strong green tea, wait for it to cool down, and spray onto the vulva, or even use as a douche. It is also possible to do a sitz bath filled with green tea. I recommend using only filtered or mineral water for this as the last thing we want it to introduce any more contaminants from the tap. The green tea treatment can be done daily at first and then once every 3 or 4 days once the pH has gone down to below 4.4.  I would not recommend to do this preventatively. If your vaginal pH is at a healthy level, that’s wonderful, drink a cup of green tea to that – we don’t want to disturb an already healthy microflora.

I also recommend getting a good probiotic that has been prepared to support the vaginal ecosystem – it needs to be rich in lactobacilli species and ideally also contain Lactobacilli Crispatus.

If your pH is above 4.4 chances are that your gut health may also need healing, and that you may need to modify your lifestyle choices such as the use of cosmetics, sanitary products and learning how to relax in order to fully support the health of your vagina. src

Sex and Vaginal Health

How do you maintain Vaginal microbiome? Start with a lactobacillus probiotic. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet, take your vitamins, minerals, and CBD.

Cannabidiol (CBD) promotes stress reduction and well being.

Something to think about when it come to sexual health is our hands and our mouths. You can spread food contamination from your mouth to the vagina if you do not rinse with a mouthwash before – sugar, animal products and other food products can cause vaginal imbalance. Lotions with dyes and perfumes on your hands can also cause imbalances. These are things to keep in mind to keep a healthy vaginal microbiome balance.

Estrogen, Sex and Vaginal Balance

Specifically, rising estrogen levels increase available glycogen in the vaginal epithelium, which in turn, provides an energy source for lactobacilli to produce lactic acid. src

Lactobacilli Crispatus makes lots of lactic acid – it’s the very same lactic acid we try to prevent during an exercise, but the vagina loves it.

Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all affect sexual desire and arousal. Having higher levels of estrogen in the body promotes vaginal lubrication and increases sexual desire. Increases in progesterone can reduce sexual desire.

Thus, the more sex you have, the higher your estrogen will be, the higher your estrogen, the more lubrication and sexual desire you will have, in turn creating more glycogen available, providing an energy source for lactobacilli to produce lactic acid, which the vagina loves, creating a positive feedback loop for woman’s sexual health.

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