I've Got Lactobacillus in My Pants!
The vaginal microbiome leaped into the limelight of my consciousness when I got my first BV infection. What I have learned has blown my mind.
The good bacteria all over our bodies are part of our immune system. When they are overcome by bad bacteria, then we become more likely to get infections and diseases. Healthy bacteria produce antibiotics that fight viruses and bacteria like HIV, Chlamydia, etc. If someone has BV they are more likely to both get STIs and transfer them through sexual activities than someone with healthy vag-ecology. Lactobacillus literally fights disease.
The healthy vaginal microbiome, dominated by lactobacillus, is crucial to our reproductive health. When the good bacteria are out-dominated by the wrong species, women experience extreme problems; unbalanced vaginal ecosystems (bacterial vaginosis or BV) are the leading result of miscarriages and stillbirths in the US.
Lactobacillus, the same genera of bacteria found in yogurt, are important bugs, not to mention sour — lactobacillus puts the tang in putang. A healthy vaginal ecosystem should have a pH of 4.0 to 4.5. I use handy pH paper to test and confirm if I suspect an infection. A pH of above 5.5 is a sure sign that things are off.
Off-pussy is something that we all face, and societal shame about it is rampant. I think that is why, when you go to the gynecologist and ask about it, they seem clueless. An astonishing 30% of women in the US have bacterial vaginosis at any given time. From what I have read, the recovery success is low.
Microbes keep your baby healthy in the womb and they prevent your child from having diseases in the future. People not exposed to the healthy lacto-family of bacteria when they were born, due to a vaginal infection or cesarean birth, are more likely to have asthma, be hospitalized, and experience a variety of health problems.
Ecologists understand that to preserve the health of a population of species, one must maintain a healthy habitat. It’s the same concept on a micro-level. Your vagina is an ecosystem!
I went on a multi-year microbiology research binge to solve the BV problems I experienced before I learned to knock Gardnerella (bad bug) down. That’s grit for another post.