Before you were even a day old, a microscopic mob of good bacteria established itself in your vagina. It's been busily at work there ever since, doing its best to elbow out bad bacterial strains to help you maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome.
Your microbiome is a complex mini eco-system that performs many important health functions. Given the new interest in gut health, you might know that a healthy gut microbiome features several hundred different strains of bacteria. But while your gut thrives on microbial diversity, your vagina doesn't. It's home to far fewer strains and they're dominated by one particular genus named 'Lactobacillus'.
Lactobacillus and your lady bits
Just like different vitamins can play differing roles in your health, different probiotic strains can have different effects. If you're a healthy pre-menopausal woman, your vaginal microbiota tends to primarily include Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus iners and Lactobacillus jensenii.
These Lactobacillus species are there to help maintain your vaginal microflora health. They form tight microcolonies and attach themselves to the lining of your vagina, colonizing your lady bits themselves to help promote a population of healthy bacteria.
In short, a healthy vaginal microbiota is one that is dominated by Lactobacilli.
Maintaining a healthy vaginal microbiota
Several factors influence the composition of your vaginal microflora. Periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause can affect your vaginal microbiota, as can antibiotics, sexual activity and even stress.
By now, you might be tempted to give your lady bits a thorough douching, but don't! It can disrupt the community of beneficial bacteria that make up a healthy vaginal flora.
Something you can do to support a healthy vaginal microbiome is eat more probiotic-rich foods, such as yoghurt, to put some good bacteria back into your system.
Probiotics for women – it’s a girl thing
In addition to eating more probiotic-rich foods, probiotic supplements such as Life-Space Women's Microflora Probiotic* can help you maintain a healthy vaginal microflora. It's a probiotic with six strains of Lactobacilli including Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14, which help to restore and balance vaginal flora, and Lactobacillus crispatus, one of the most common Lactobacillus species present in a healthy vaginal microbiome. Each capsule contains 6.3 billion CFU, while there's no added dairy or gluten, and you don't need to keep it in the fridge.
Lactobacillus and the rest of your body
By now, you might think that Lactobacilli live exclusively in your lady bits, but they're also found in the intestines, skin, urinary tract, breast milk and upper respiratory tract. Meanwhile, the genus Bifidobacterium plays an important role in metabolism and digestion, so you'll find lots of those in your gut and colon, though some live in your vagina too.
Your vaginal flora does an amazing job. It's pretty good at looking after itself but if you're looking for something additional to top up your intake of healthy microbes, a targeted probiotic formulated to support a healthy vaginal microbiome might help it on the way.
*Always read the label. Use only as directed. Supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
Sponsored by Life-Space Probiotics