The Vaginal Microbiome
You’ve probably heard of your gut microbiome and the recommendation to take a probiotic to keep it healthy. But what the heck is your vaginal microbiome?! The two are pretty similar - microbiomes are simply the ecosystems of microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, yeasts, and viruses) that live on and inside different parts of our bodies and promote optimal health/function. On a pH scale, your vaginal microbiome likes to live in an acidic state. However, there are several things that we may be unknowingly introducing to our microbiome that drives the pH towards alkaline, which our vaginas do not like. These things can include excess sugar intake, seminal fluid, generic body washes and lubricants, menstrual blood, hormones & birth control. “Vaginal Dysbiosis” refers to any state in which the vaginal flora is disrupted.
Why does this matter? Some women may report symptoms (such as itching, burning, redness, odor) during or just after their menstrual cycle or perhaps after having unprotected sex because the proper balance of bacteria is disrupted. There is evidence to suggest urinary tract infections, bacteria vaginosis and other vaginal conditions are worsened by an unbalanced vaginal microbiome. Fertility can also be affected by the vaginal microbiome. If you are trying to become pregnant it is essential to have a balanced biome.
How can you keep your vaginal microbiome happy?
● Maintain a healthy diet
● Never use soap or douches on the vulva or in the vagina. Use pH balanced
products especially formulated for the genitals such as Good Clean Love if you
need to use a wash (using water alone is usually enough).
● Introduce a vaginal probiotic to increase Lactobacillus with vaginal probiotics. Good
Clean Love also makes these products.
● Consult your MD to see if a change in birth control would be necessary/beneficial.
● Use lubricants without parabens or petrochemicals (we recommend Slippery Stuff
and Good Clean Love brands).
A pelvic floor physical therapist can help to address other aspects of pelvic floor dysfunction such as pain with intercourse, urinary or fecal incontinence, constipation, endometriosis or vulvar issues. At DPT we are experts in pelvic health!