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The Microbiome You Probably Don’t Think About

The Microbiome You Probably Don’t Think About - The Sabi

Optimal Vaginal Health: Essential for Overall Well-Being 


When you think about your overall well-being, your physical fitness, mental state, or social life probably come to mind first. But as a woman, your vaginal health is an equally important component of your overall health. And for vaginal health you need a balanced vaginal microbiome. 


A microbiome is a community of trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microorganisms that live inside the body; those same populations also inhabit a woman’s vaginal microbiome but in different numbers and communities. For the most part, your vagina does this work all on her own. However, there are moments when you may be at elevated risk for problematic dysbiosis (an imbalance of vaginal bacteria). 


Changes in hormone levels, chronic stress, illness, and antibiotics cause vaginal microbiome fluctuations or disturbance 


Vaginal Microbiome Diversity and Your Health


Your vaginal microbiome is unique to you and can shift naturally with your period, cycle changes, sexual activity, diet and pregnancy. In women of reproductive age, physiological changes, such as changes in hormone levels, chronic stress, illness, and antibiotics cause fluctuations in the vaginal microbiome (Hickey et al., 2012) and (Nelson et al., 2018) that may put you at higher risk for an imbalance resulting in candidiasis (or yeast infection, also known as thrush) and Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). 


Bacterial Vaginosis and Yeast Infections or Candidiasis


Candida overgrowth can start in the gut and impact other areas including the mouth, skin, nipples during breastfeeding (and baby’s mouth) but most commonly in women, it impacts the vagina. It’s very common with approximately 372 million women experiencing recurring infections over the course of their lifetime, with 25 to 34-year-olds being the age group with the highest prevalence. 


When are you at higher risk for infection? 

  • During pregnancy 
  • After a course of antibiotics 
  • If dealing with insulin issues (like diabetes and potentially PCOS) 
  • When dealing with an autoimmune disease 


BV is a bacterial, rather than a fungal issue, which can make you more susceptible to other diseases and even impact pregnancy outcomes negatively. Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include: an unusual vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy smell, particularly after sex; a change to the colour and consistency of your discharge, such as becoming greyish-white and thin and watery. 


Most often, BV does not cause other health problems. However, if left untreated, BV may increase your risk for prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and HIV


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease 


Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of one or more of the upper reproductive organs, including the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries which can be caused by either a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or a persistent vaginal infection that has not been treated properly. 


This causes a rise of bacteria into the uterus and the other reproductive organs, leading to possible infertility, tubal obstruction, generalised inflammation process, abdominal pain, and vaginal discharge, among other symptoms that can be way more urgent. Untreated PID can cause scar tissue and pockets of infected fluid (abscesses) to develop in the reproductive tract, which can cause permanent damage


Symptoms of pelvic inflammation include a foul-smelling discharge, irregular vaginal bleeding and pain in the lower abdomen, not all of those symptoms occur with candidiasis or BV, especially with the same severity. It is a serious condition with higher risks than candida overgrowth or even bacterial vaginosis. 


What Can Help: Dietary Changes and Probiotics


Everyone is unique, from your thumbprint to your DNA. The same is true about your vaginal microbiome! Your bacterial ecosystem is unlike anyone else’s. The goal is to keep a healthy bacterial balance and maintain the right acidity of the vagina or vaginal pH balance up to 4.5. The vagina should be naturally acidic through the production of lactic acid and that lactic acid is what helps healthy bacteria to be prevalent and prevents unwanted bacteria and yeast. When that bacterial balance is disrupted it can cause unwanted symptoms due to dysbiosis, a disturbance of the vaginal microbiome’s homeostasis.


If dealing with (especially recurring) candida issues, many people find success with dietary changes like the “candida cleanse”, which removes or drastically reduces foods that trigger candida overgrowth such as sugar, simple carbohydrates like white flour, yeast and fermented foods (that are not probiotic like mustard and alcohol), some types of cheese, and opting instead for whole foods, higher protein consumption, green vegetables, nuts and vegetable juices. 

  
Probiotic Help 

Aside from watching your diet, you may need additional help from a balancing boost of “good” bacteria. To be specific – the Lactobacillus species bacteria that can be found in probiotics, are proven to improve symptoms of candidiasis among pregnant women. Naturally occurring and dietary probiotics are accessible in most health food stores and found in naturally fermented food and drinks like yoghurt. It is important to note, probiotics are known to help maintain a healthy vaginal balance, but they cannot treat an active PID or STI. 


Personalised Probiotics 


To keep your vaginal microbiome in optimal balance, a probiotic that is focused on the vaginal microbiome can be beneficial. Given our unique vaginal microbiome diversity, which can differ between ethnicities, geography, life stage and lifestyle, we love the idea of personalised treatments that honours our own bacterial community and needs for the specific issue or concern we may be facing. Personalised vaginal probiotics are making waves in this space! 


The SABI spoke to Gynaecologist Virginia Franco M.D, Co-Founder of YONI Solutions, to learn more. Franco is a specialist in Women’s Health in Primary Care, menopause and vaginal microbiome. Today she is the CEO of the Swiss-based Company YONI Solutions which offer a range of products and services designed to help women maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome. She broke down the personalised process at YONI Solutions for us saying, “the way it works with us is one of our experts performs an analysis of your own microbiome, and then a set of probiotics will be tailor-fitted and recommended for you, ensuring they will be effective enough to restore the bacterial balance that YOU need. No more one-size-fits-all solutions”. 


Franco explained to us the supportive nature of personalised vaginal probiotics saying, “the purpose of introducing probiotics is to reduce the risk of persistent diseases in a healthy environment, which in the long run can reduce the chances of being persistently colonised with bacteria that cause STDs and consequently lead to PID. For Cervical Cancer, for example, there is now a known link with the microbiota as well, for the same reason as the persistence of HPV, due to the colonisation of the vagina by an STD or other ‘bad bacteria’.”


This is extra helpful for people who need special support, like pregnant women or when in, or approaching a moment of risk of vaginal dysbiosis, like during periods of chronic stress or reduced immunity from illness or after a course of antibiotics. It is also a plus if you are not into fermented foods. 


Your vagina is your most intimate space and deserves to be taken care of. Whether it be through maintaining an anti-yeast diet, prioritising your hygiene, or opting for probiotics made just for you… your vagina and your whole body, will thank you. 

 

HORMONAL & PROUD


Created as a brand to help women navigate the toughest moments in pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum — and practically every stage of life, the SABI aims to change the narrative around our hormones from one of taboo, embarrassment and loneliness, to awareness and even pride. Much more than a wellness brand, SABI offers a carefully crafted line of products to carry you through your hormonal journey; a set of rituals, supportive tools, and ancient herbal remedies that have been tested time and again by women and now, backed by medicine. SABI is a blend of science and nature conceived by women who have experienced the joys and deep implications of bringing a child into the world, the pains of a heavy and difficult period, miscarriage and difficulty conceiving.


Here is an invitation to get to know your body and its cycles better and to really understand what is going on inside. Learn to use your hormonal cycle to your advantage no matter your stage of life, and know that you can always support and balance your hormone levels. Look for the right sources of information, know that there is help, and know that you’re supported.


DISCLAIMER


The SABI blog and articles are not meant to instruct or advise on medical or health conditions, but to inform. The information and opinions presented here do not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals for your unique situation. 

About YONI Solutions

YONI Solutions is a Swiss based company dedicated to women’s Health. YONI services relies on vaginal microbiome analysis with personalized probiotic recommendation after the test! The mission of YONI is to close the gap in the female Microbiome and to improve the personal, professional and social life of women all over the world .

 


SOURCES:

 

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Use code WELCOME15 for 15% off first purchase

Use code WELCOME15 for 15% off first purchase