Many factors can influence a woman’s chances of having a preterm baby, but one of the most important is her vaginal biome.
Your vaginal biome is essentially the type of bacteria and yeast that lives in and around your vagina – it can affect your pregnancy in many ways, from how likely you are to have a preterm delivery to your baby’s health once they are born. In this article, we’ll look at what your vaginal biome can tell you about your pregnancy and why it matters.
What is a Vaginal Biome?
There are many different types of vaginal biomes, each with its own health benefits. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types:
1. Dry vagina: This biome is characterized by a low moisture level and dead skin cells. It’s often caused by dryness, age, or hormonal changes. Dry vaginas increase the risk of UTIs, yeast infections, and other pelvic issues.
2. Moisture-rich vagina: These biomes are dominated by moisture-producing bacteria and wetness. They’re usually associated with healthy sexual activity and regular douching or showering. Women in this biome are typically less likely to experience UTIs or other bacterial issues.
3. Mucous membrane vaginosis (MMV): This vagina is inflamed due to an overgrowth of bacteria that produce mucus. MMV can cause pain during sex and reduce fertility. It’s most commonly diagnosed in women over 45 years old.
Types of Vaginal Mbiomes
Multiple types of vaginal microbiomes can affect your pregnancy. Some of the common types of vaginal microbiomes are:
Bacterial vaginosis: Bacterial vaginosis is a condition caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. It’s most commonly caused by using feminine hygiene products that contain soap or alcohol, but it can also be caused by other factors, such as having a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Women with bacterial vaginosis may have a higher risk of getting pregnant and giving birth to a baby with low birth weight or premature birth.
Candidiasis: Candidiasis is an infection caused by the candida fungus. This fungus can cause inflammation and irritation in the vagina, leading to pain during sexual intercourse, discharge from the vagina, and UTIs (urinary tract infections). Candidiasis is more common in women who are sexually active and whose partners have a sexually transmitted disease. Women with candidiasis may experience decreased fertility and increased risk for other health problems during pregnancy.
Human papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is a virus that can cause cervical cancer. It can also cause other types of cancers, including genital cancer. There is no cure for HPV, but treatments available can help prevent these cancers from happening. HPV vaccine is known to protect against this virus, and it’s recommended that all girls aged 11-12 years get vaccinated against HPV. Girls who have already been infected
What are the Signs of a Poor Vaginal biome?
There are many different vaginal biomes, meaning a specific type of vagina is ideal for each person. But all vaginas have some standard features.
Some of the signs of a poor vaginal biome include:
-A dry vagina
-A feeling of itchiness or irritation down below
-Difficulty getting and maintaining an erection
-Reduced sexual pleasure
If you notice these symptoms, it might be worth considering a change in your vaginal biome. There are a few things you can do to try and improve your situation:
-Try using more moisturizing products, like creams or lotions. This will help keep your skin hydrated and reduce the feeling of itchiness or irritation.
-Try incorporating more fiber into your diet. This will help keep your bowel movements regular, which will help with the sensation of dryness below.
-Avoid using harsh chemicals on your genitals, as this can irritate them further.
-Try using sex toys that work better with specific biomes (e.g., silicone toys are suitable for dry vaginas).
What is a vaginal biome?
A vaginal biome is a collection of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in and on the walls of your vagina. This microbiome can significantly impact your health and well-being, both during your period and during pregnancy.
There are three main types of vaginal biomes:
1. Acne-prone: This biome is often associated with an increased risk of skin problems such as acne, which can be traced back to the overgrowth of certain bacteria. To keep your microbiome healthy during pregnancy, avoid antibiotics and other chemicals that might upset it.
2. Bacterial: This biome is typically inhabited by bacteria that are good for your overall health. These bacteria help to keep the pH level balanced in the vagina, protect against infection, and provide essential nutrients for lactobacilli (the predominant type of bacterium in vaginas). While this type of biome is generally healthy, you can do a few things to improve it, including using probiotics regularly and eating healthy foods that support bacterial growth (like yogurt).
3. Fungal: This biome tends to be dominated by fungal infections such as candidiasis, which can cause irritation and discomfort. To maintain balance in your microbiome while pregnant, avoid high-fiber foods and products (like sugar-free gum) that might promote fungus growth. And if you experience any symptoms like irritation or an increase in discharge, speak to your doctor.
Many women are still unaware of their vaginal biome and the associated health risks that come with it. If you want to have a healthy pregnancy, it is essential that you know your own body and what makes you feel good.
By understanding your vaginal biome, you can make informed choices about which foods to eat and how much exercise to do, all while minimizing any potential risk factors.