The Female Microbiome by Goodhealth

The Female Microbiome

Tháng Năm 1, 2024

We have microbes in our mouth, gut, ears… basically, anywhere we possess a cavity. Not only that, but our skin is crawling with microscopic critters, and it may surprise you to know that they can be found nearly everywhere in the body that isn't sterile. Some seem to be good, some potentially bad; most of the time they are supposed to get on with us and each other, but things can go awry, leading to increasing rates of microbial imbalance in modern humans. We might know more about the surface of Mars than our own microbiomes, but we know enough to realise how indispensable our personal microbial “fingerprint” is for our overall health, and for the health of those things that are uniquely female.

The past 15 years has seen an explosion in microbiome and probiotic research. In 2007 the United States National Institutes of Health launched a major research initiative, the Human Microbiome Project. The goal was to improve understanding of the human microbiota and its role in health and disease, to develop technologies capable of detailed investigations, to create resources and databases, and to map microbial genetics and characteristics. Even after this massive undertaking, and thousands of recent private or publicly funded studies, we still know relatively little. We are only just beginning to get a handle on the mechanisms involved in microbial communication and function in certain disease states and whether there is a causal or incidental relationship. Many species simply have not been studied outside of the human body because they cannot be cultured.

It is estimated that the human body can accommodate 30-50 trillion bacteria, depending on the size of the person, and most of them reside in the large bowel. Other microbes, including fungi, archaea, parasites, and viruses, may also exist in the trillions, but we know much less of their activities. Bacteria produce postbiotic products for their host, including short chain fatty acids, bacteriocins, carbonic substances, some nutrients, and enzymes (although not all are always beneficial). Our immune function is particularly dependent on microbes giving cues to our immune cells, supporting their maturation, and the “priming” of our immune system.

It was thought that our microbes outnumber our cells by 10 to 1, but it may actually be closer to 2 or 3 to 1, with variability from human to human. Our individual microbiomes are as unique to us as our fingerprints and are established within the first year or 2 of life. Having said that, the microbiome can make shifts in composition, according to age, environment, stress, and diet.

What constitutes a healthy microbiome?

A healthy microbiome is one of the first lines of defense in the female genitourinary tract. The female genitourinary system – vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, urethra, and bladder – houses a microbiome with much less diversity than the gut. Although, there is an increase in diversity the farther inside the body you go. The microbiome balance in this system changes with age and environment and monthly hormonal shifts affect vaginal microbiome balance. If there is microbiome imbalance in the genitourinary tract, fertility and/or the ability to stay pregnant can be adversely affected. More research is needed but there is growing evidence that maintaining a healthy, whole-body microbiome is key to healthy physiological function.

One of the biggest challenges is determining what constitute a “normal” or “healthy” microbiome. What is considered healthy in terms of bacterial composition may differ wildly throughout the world. For example, researchers have found bacteria in the guts of hunter/gatherer populations that would usually cause serious diseases in humans in the developed world, yet those “primitive” tribespeople do not succumb to those diseases. It may be that the diversity and overall balance of your microbes is more important than individual species being either beneficial or harmful.

What can upset the balance?

Antibiotic treatment can cause the decrease or extinction of certain species, leading to a low-diversity or unbalanced microbiome. In this instance, potentially harmful bacteria can become dominant. This is a situation known as dysbiosis, which has been linked to many conditions in the body. Studies have shown that pesticides like glyphosate can adversely affect key microbial species in the gut with knock on effects throughout the body, particularly on reproductive hormones. Additionally, the consumption of refined sugar and sweeteners can upset the microbial balance in the mouth, gut, and urinary tract. Stress and lack of appropriate sunlight can also disrupt eubiosis (balanced microbiome).

Links between microbiomes and health

There is a well-researched link between altered gut microbiome and reproductive and genitourinary disorders in females. Studies have been done on the gut microbiome-oestrogen axis, where progesterone and oestrogen levels in the body can be supported by enzyme secretion and postbiotic production by gut microbes. Studies have also found that our microbiome health positively affects our bone health. There are probiotic strains that have been shown to directly support bone density – so important post menopause – and strains that positively or negatively support our metabolism – a huge contributor to reproductive health.

Gut microbial balance can directly and indirectly support the health of the urinary tract. We know that females are more prone to urinary and vaginal immune imbalances because of the relatively short distance between the anus and vagina, but there has also been research into how the balance of gut microbes can support the health and function of the vagina and urethra (urine conducting tube). Many of us have experienced the awful effects of a vaginal yeast imbalance after taking antibiotics. Scientists have identified specific strains of oral probiotics that can support the vaginal microbial balance via the gut. Probiotics are live microbes that are considered beneficial to the body when consumed orally or applied topically.

Click here for more on the female hormonal cycle and here for tips on how to have healthy hormones (and microbiome) throughout the female life stages.

Introducing: Good Health Pro Flora Care

Good Health Pro Flora Care is a scientifically-studied formulation of 5 probiotic strains to support a healthy immune response in the female genito-urinary system. An unbalanced vaginal and urinary flora is what can lead to many of the immune issues women face in their reproductive and urinary tracts. An ecologically stable vaginal microbiome is generally identified by a high level of Lactobacillus species. Lactobacillus strains play an important role in the support of genital immune issues by supporting the vaginal pH and microbial balance via their postbiotic output, which makes the environment inhospitable for some harmful microorganisms, and by outcompeting other bacteria.

A colony-forming unit (CFU) estimates the number of viable microbial cells that are able to multiply and colonise the appropriate tissue. Pro Flora Care contains at least 12 billion total CFUs of highly researched Lactobacillus strains: L. rhamnosus GR-1 –  supports a balanced vaginal microbiota and gut lining integrity; reuteri RC-14 – supports a healthy immune response and yeast/flora balance; gasseri LG-G12 – supports vaginal pH and crowding out of harmful microbes; high strength acidophilus LA-G80 – supports female reproductive and digestive health, plus microbial balance in the vaginal and urinary tract; and crispatus LC-G22 – supports a stable microflora. These 5 strains have been found to be specific to the female genito-urinary system, supporting the free flow of “bad” microbes, limiting their ability to irritate tissue and initiate an immune response.

Good Health Pro Flora Care is designed to support a healthy vaginal microflora and pH balance throughout the monthly cycle, while also supporting reproductive, digestive, and overall health and wellbeing.

 

Pro Flora Care Supports:

  • Balanced vaginal pH
  • Healthy vaginal microflora and yeast balance
  • Urinary tract health
  • Beneficial microbial colonies
  • The free flow of microbes
  • Healthy fertility
  • Reproductive, gut, and overall health

 

Click the following for more in the Women’s Health Series:

The 3 Ms and the Female Hormonal Life Cycle, Part 1 – Menarche

The 3 Ms and the Female Hormonal Life Cycle, Part 2 – Menstruation

The 3 Ms and the Female Hormonal Life Cycle, Part 3 – Menopause

Ancestral Wisdom for Female Hormonal Health Part 1

Ancestral Wisdom for Female Hormonal Health Part 2

TAPS  No: PP2522


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