The vaginal microbiome has a significant role in the health and disease of the female reproductive tract, potentially helping to protect against vaginal infections and inflammatory conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV).
There are several hundred different strains of bacteria in the vagina, but they are dominated by a small number of Lactobacillus species, which produce lactic acid and help to lower the vaginal pH under 4.5. This acidic environment helps to protect the vaginal tract against some pathogenic bacteria species, which may cause infection.
Studies have shown that this dominance by specific Lactobacillus strains is key to supporting vaginal health and the more diverse the number of bacterial species in the vaginal microbiome, the more prone we are to problems in this area.
And the bacterial balance in this area may be affected by a number of factors, including hormonal changes, menstruation, childbirth, the gastrointestinal microbiota, using hygiene products and lubricants, sexual interaction and use of contraceptives and antibiotics.