Maintaining a health vaginal flora can sometimes feel like an endless challenge. With harsh products, and highly perfumed soaps, douching, and having unprotected sex will lead to an imbalance in the pH levels resulting in an array of negative side effects. So, what exactly is it about the vaginal flora that is so important for your overall health and wellbeing? Is vaginal flora good? Or is it something that needs to be treated? Stick around to find out more about how this delicate ecosystem works and what you can do to ensure it remains healthy.
Vaginal flora is the name given to the bacteria that lives inside the vagina. This bacterium also goes by the name of Lactobacilli and its main purpose is to maintain the overall health of the vagina. It does this by ensuring the pH levels remain balanced, produces beneficial substances such as lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide as these both help the vagina remain slightly acidic which is the best environment for the good bacteria and delicate health of the vaginal ecosystem.
What do vaginal flora do?
Vaginal flora are responsible for protecting the body against urogenital infections. The flora is made up of different strains of bacteria, such as lactobacilli, all of which work together to keep the flora balanced, protected, and healthy. The balance of the flora is very fragile and any slightest change can cause the flora to become imbalanced and the pH levels being affected.
The way that the collection of vaginal flora work is as follows;
- Regulating the microflora found in the vagina
- Preventing harmful microbes from attaching to the vaginal tissues
- Boosting the body’s immune system
- Improving the vagina’s acidity levels
As I have already mentioned, the vagina flora needs to remain more of the acidic side as this is the optimal environment for lactobacilli to work effectively. You’ll often find that conditions such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis will develop once the pH levels are not acidic enough leading to the good bacteria dying and vaginal flora being overtaken by bad bacteria.
There are many ways of maintaining a healthy vaginal flora, which we will cover in the next section of the blog post.
Are there good bacteria in vagina?
Yes, you’ll find lactobacillus species of bacteria are in the vagina. This collection of good bacteria can encounter an array of risk factors that can knock the balance of the flora off kilter and lead to several concerns and infections.
If you have just finished a course of antibiotics, you have a new sexual partner, you’ve overused highly perfumed washing products, the pH levels will become imbalanced and the good bacteria in your vagina will be unable to keep the flora healthy. Many find that introducing probiotics, changing their lifestyle, or diet are effective ways to ensure the vaginal flora remains protected, healthy, and able to function properly.
What can affect vaginal flora?
There is a vast amount of risk factors that can affect the vaginal flora such as;
- Finishing a course of antibiotics
- Incorrect washing of the groan area
- Unprotected sex
- Hormonal changes such as pregnancy, birth, or menopause
- Synthetic fabric in underwear or tight clothing
- Fabric softeners
- Excessive use of saunas, hot tubs, and swimming pools
There you have some examples of the factors that can disrupt the vaginal flora, as you can see, some examples are simple everyday products or habits which demonstrates how easy it is for the vaginal flora to become imbalanced. Ensuring you remain as healthy as you can, avoiding anything that can cause problems and making small changes will have a significant improvement on the flora.
When the vaginal flora becomes imbalanced, you’ll find there is an increased risk of infections and conditions such as.
- Bacterial vaginosis- imbalance of bad bacteria in the vagina leading to unusual discharge and bad odour
- Pelvic inflammatory disease- this could a result of an STI or UTI
- Yeast infections- imbalance in the vaginal flora causing the bacteria called candida to overgrow and develop into an infection.
- Thrush- an imbalance in the vagina that can lead to discharge, itching, burning, and pain.
- And in some severe cases, difficulty in conceiving and carrying pregnancies
All these concerns are treatable with the right routine, daily intake of health supplements and probiotics, as well as following a generally healthy diet and lifestyle. If any of this sound like something you are suffering from, seek the help from your GP to explore the best route for you to help combat any problems.
How do you replenish vaginal flora?
There are many ways to replenish vaginal flora, luckily, you can pick and choose which methods suit you and your needs best. Here are some examples of the best ways of replenishing the vaginal flora.
- Diet and nutrition
Diet and nutrition are thought to be the most important factors to maintain and focus on as these have the biggest impact on your overall health and wellbeing. There are many studies indicating that introducing probiotic enriched foods will support the vagina and gut flora ensuring they remain healthy and functioning correctly. The best foods and drinks to have been those which are fermented such as.
It is also important to include other foods that are rich in prebiotics as these will help promote the growth of probiotics found in the vaginal flora, these foods are as follows.
- Reducing stress levels
Stress and an imbalance of hormones can have huge impact on your overall health, including intimate health. There have been some studies showing that increased stress levels can worsen the effects of a vaginal infection, prolonging the symptoms and increasing its severity. Therefore, reducing your stress levels is important and may require you to use simple daily practise, such as.
- Trying relaxation techniques
- Taking time to meditate
- Take some time to perform some yoga
- Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Drinking enough water
There are some examples of the easiest way to ensure you keep your vaginal flora healthy and balanced. Don’t forget if you have any further questions, come, and find us on Instagram.