Vaginal microbiome health and the importance of Lactobacilli

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WOMEN’S HEALTH

Vaginal microbiome health and the importance of Lactobacilli

BY TANYA KWIEZ September 16, 2021

The vagina can be thought of as a dynamic and finely tuned ecosystem which plays host to a community of microorganisms known as the vaginal microbiome. Optimal vaginal health depends on supporting and maintaining a balanced vaginal microbiome as these microorganisms help to maintain a healthy vaginal environment in many different ways. Vaginal dysbiosis occurs when the delicate balance of live microorganisms that reside in the vagina is thrown off, and this can leave women vulnerable to unconformable vaginal infections and poor vaginal health.

Lactobacillus and the vaginal microbiome

Lactobacillus is the main group of bacteria that is naturally present in the healthy vagina. This species plays the important role of keeping levels of harmful bacteria in the vaginal environment under control.

For example, a balanced vaginal microbiome with normal levels of Lactobacilli has been shown to protect women from microorganisms that can cause vulvovaginal infections, such as thrush, sexually transmitted infections, and urinary tract infections.

However, when Lactobacillus levels are disrupted in some way, such as due to antibiotic use or inappropriate hygiene practices, this is when vaginal dysbiosis can take place and an overgrowth of harmful organisms can occur.

Vaginal dysbiosis

Common manifestations of vaginal dysbiosis include vaginal thrush (caused by an overgrowth of a common vaginal yeast called Candida) and bacterial vaginosis (caused by an overgrowth of specific bacteria, such as Gardnerella).

Vaginal thrush affects 75% of all women at least once in their lifetime, as does bacterial vaginosis. Common medications such as antifungals and antibiotics often provide short-term relief, but can fail to prevent recurrence of these uncomfortable infections due to their inability to correct the causes of underlying vaginal dysbiosis. 15% of all women who get vaginal thrush develop recurrent infections, experiencing at least 3-4 infections per year, and 1 in 4 women treated for bacterial vaginosis relapse within one month.

Working to restore Lactobacilli dominance and improve the vagina’s natural defences against harmful microorganisms can help women to prevent the occurence of vaginal dysbiosis and maintain good vaginal microbiome health.

Are there specific species or strains of Lactobacillus important to female health?

A healthy vagina microbiome is made up of a small number of different yeast and bacteria, and is mainly composed of Lactobacilli. Of the 20 Lactobacillus species that have been detected in the vagina, only a unique few are found living in large numbers. Interestingly, those which dominate the vaginal microbiome will vary from woman to woman and will significantly influence their vaginal health.

For example, one of the most important Lactobacillus species is called Lactobacillus crispatus. Women with vaginal microbiomes dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus have been consistently found to have vaginal microbiomes with improved stability and are less likely to experience vaginal dysbiosis. Studies also now support the therapeutic use of Lactobacillus crispatus as it has been repeatedly proven to be a low risk, stable and effective strain for supporting the health of the vaginal microbiome.

Probiotics for vaginal microbiome health

Due to the underlying disruptions in Lactobacilli balance in many cases of vaginal dysbiosis, probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus species beneficial to the vaginal environment can help to restore Lactobacilli dominance and promote a healthy vaginal microbiome.

Introducing Biome Her™ Probiotic

Activated Probiotics’ Biome Her™ Probiotic was specifically formulated to help women maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome, combining a unique strain of Lactobacillus crispatus (LCR01) with two-clinically trialled probiotic strains shown to support a healthy vaginal microbiome: Lactobacillus acidophilus LA02 and Lactobacillus fermentum LF10 (3).

REFERENCES

  1. Pan M, Hidalgo-Cantabrana C, Goh Yong J, Sanozky-Dawes R, Barrangou R, (2020). Comparative Analysis of Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus crispatus Isolated From Human Urogenital and Gastrointestinal Tracts, Frontiers in Microbiology;10:3146.
  2. Matsuda, Y., Cho, O., Sugita, T., Ogishima, D., and Takeda, S. (2018). Culture supernatants of Lactobacillus gasseri and L. crispatus Inhibit Candida albicans biofilm formation and adhesion to hela cells. Mycopathologia;183;691–700.
  3. Lamont, R F et al, (2011). The vaginal microbiome: new information about genital tract flora using molecular based techniques. BJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology; 118,5: 533-49. 
  4. Ellie J. C. Goldstein, Kerin L. Tyrrell, Diane M. Citron, (2015).  Lactobacillus Species: Taxonomic Complexity and Controversial Susceptibilities, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 60:2:S98–S107.
  5. Kalia, N., Singh, J. & Kaur, M, (2020). Microbiota in vaginal health and pathogenesis of recurrent vulvovaginal infections: a critical review. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob;19:5.

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