Your Fertility & The Importance of a Healthy Vaginal Microbiome
Published November 2022 | Guest Author: Julia Young, Nutritionist
Did you know there is a link between the health of your vagina and your fertility? Yet, quite often, we overlook the importance of our vaginal bacteria when trying to start a family. Bacteria is certainly not the first thing that springs to mind when trying to conceive, but why is vaginal bacterial health so important?
Under the Microscope
When healthy, the vaginal microbiome is dominated by billions of good bacteria known as Lactobacillus. Their sole purpose is to produce special antimicrobial compounds to keep the balance and harmony in good order in the vaginal canal. This balance is important when it comes to good female health, fertility and also in supporting a healthy pregnancy.
Itching to Talk About Bacterial Vaginosis
One condition, which is surprisingly common, causes quite a bit of discomfort and can often go undetected, is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).
BV is caused by the overgrowth of a certain type of bacteria found in the vagina. It is characterised by the loss or drastic reduction in the total number of the healthy bacteria, the lactobacillus, and a sudden onset and increase in the concentration of anaerobic microbes, which throws everything out of balance.
What actually causes this change in the microbiome is not fully known, but you’re more likely to get BV if you’re sexually active, you have had a change of partner, you use an IUD or wash with perfumed products in or around your vagina.
BV, if left undetected or unresolved, has been linked to other conditions such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID); where the bacteria may affect the uterus or fallopian tubes causing problems when trying to conceive,
BV may also cause urinary tract infections, can increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections; like chlamydia, may easily be passed to your significant other causing them problems and also it can potentially cause complications during pregnancy by increasing the risk of miscarriage or even lead to a preterm birth.
Diagnosing & Resolving BV before Trying to Conceive
How in tune are you to what’s happening inside your vagina?
If you’re not sure whether you have BV, (which has been known to masquerade as Thrush as the symptoms are very similar), you can request a vaginal microbiome health test from your doctor or fertility clinic to assure yourself that things are as they should be, but you’d be surprised how many women I see who have a BV diagnosis without even realising it, so I would recommend getting checked out to be on the safe side.
Here are some of the most common BV symptoms to look out for:
- Grey or white vaginal discharge
- Watery discharge
- Vaginal dryness
- A fishy odour, which can be worse after intercourse
- Itching, pain or burning of the vagina
The good news is that BV can be resolved with a good diet, healthy lifestyle choices and supplements. Antibiotics may be necessary to eradicate the problem, but with a little knowledge and natural support, you can re-balance and harmonise your vaginal microbiome ready to try for a baby.
Have a Happy, Healthy Vagina
A healthy vaginal microbiome is essential, whether you are about to undertake fertility treatment or wish to conceive naturally so starting to understand your body by becoming aware of your vaginal discharge and keeping an eye out for any of the symptoms, will stand you in good stead for a happy, healthy vagina as you start your family.
If you’d like advice to help support your body’s natural bacterial harmony and ensure you and your vagina and healthy and fit for pregnancy, you can reach out to me here at IVF Matters.
About Julia Young
Julia Young is Registered Nutritional Therapist specialising in fertility. She helps couples struggling to conceive to realise their dream of having a family. Julia offers personalised nutrition and lifestyle support and believes in the importance of getting to the root cause of people’s fertility issues.