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The vaginal microbiome: fertility and successful pregnancy

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It is now common knowledge that the human microbiome plays a variety of critical roles in human health and disease. This dynamic system consists of a variety of complex habitats and microbial assemblages formed along the same fundamental processes found in other sophisticated ecologies. Most of the microbes living within the human body inhabit the large intestine. The complex balance required to maintain a healthy symbiotic microbial community depends on a number of factors, including the host genome, quality of nutrition and lifestyles. Any disruption to these factors can result in immune dysfunction and inflammatory processes connecting the gut-immune interface with the wider physiology.

Another specialised microbial community in humans is the vaginal microbiome. Successful human reproduction depends heavily on the correct balance of these microbes. An optimal vaginal microbiome results in the production of lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, maintaining a level of acidity that keeps pathogenic bacteria at bay. When the vaginal community becomes disturbed, on the other hand, acidity decreases. Pathogenic or other opportunistic bacteria may then invade, which can cause bacterial vaginosis. This is best described as a state of dysbiosis rather than infection. Research suggests that probiotic supplementation may be of benefit in maintaining homeostasis of the vaginal microbiome thereby reducing the risk of infection, dysbiosis and subsequent inflammation and immune dysfunction.

In this infographic we discuss the fundamental importance of the vaginal microbiome and the significant influence this has on the reproductive process, from conception to birth.


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Related Reading
Female Microbiome Initiatives - Women & their Microbes

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Melissa Lee
Melissa is a designer turned nutritionist, who has combined the two modalities to create purposeful designs for various health publications and websites. Having initially studied Multimedia Systems Design, she then went on to complete a BHSc in Nutritional Medicine which led to her involvement in the integrative medicine industry and eventually to FX Medicine.