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How the vaginal microbiome can impact fertility

The human body is a complex ecosystem where trillions of microorganisms reside, playing a crucial role in our health and well-being. Among these, the vaginal microbiome, the community of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the vagina, has gained significant attention for its impact on fertility.

The vaginal microbiome is primarily composed of lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that helps maintain a healthy pH balance in the vagina. This acidic environment created by lactobacilli helps to protect against infections and provides an optimal environment for sperm survival and motility, both essential for conception.

Research has shown that alterations in the vaginal microbiome can lead to dysbiosis, an imbalance in the microbial community, which has been associated with infertility and pregnancy complications. Factors such as antibiotic use, hormonal fluctuations, sexual activity, and diet can influence the composition of the vaginal microbiome.

In cases of dysbiosis, where there is a decrease in lactobacilli and an increase in harmful bacteria, the risk of infertility may rise. This imbalance can lead to inflammation, increased susceptibility to infections, and changes in cervical mucus consistency, all of which can impair sperm transport and viability.

Furthermore, dysbiosis in the vaginal microbiome has been linked to conditions such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which are known to negatively impact fertility. BV, characterized by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and preterm birth.

Some tips to support your vaginal microbiome include:

-              Just use water ! Using douches & washes that aren’t pH matched can alter the pH of the vaginal environment and lead to increased likelihood of opportunistic overgrowths.

-              Wear cotton or bamboo underwear. Cotton and bamboo are both breathable materials that allow escape of moisture, to reduce likelihood of overgrowths.

And if you do have active symptoms, it is worthwhile getting screened through your GP or with a vaginal microbiome profile with us through booking a 1:1 consult here, to ensure we’re not leaving any stone unturned & can get an accurate picture of what is going on in your vaginal microbiome.

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