It is amazing how some things can rock the ground that you stand on and I have to say that the Microbiome Symposium that I went to this weekend, did just that. It completely rocked my world. We started the weekend with a very informative discussion on the Hoohaa. To be specific, the vaginal microbiome. Approximately 50% of the world has one without getting to political and the reality is that on occasion, and likely far too often, it can cause us some significant grief.
We will get to the grief in a minute or two.
And, grief yes but there is good news too. You need to read all the way through to get to the good news though. I’m a bit of a control freak. Keep reading.
Well, I was honored to be invited to this symposium. It was small and in the course of a day and a half, it was jam packed with incredible amounts of information to keep me at the front of the research being done with regards to the Microbiome. (In a sec, I will define that for all of you that aren’t familiar.) It covered the female microbiome (yes, lots of discussion about the HooHaa), affects of Round Up and glyphosate on the microbiome, the microbiome and SIBO, gluten and the microbiome, etc, etc, etc.
It was a room full of nerds, me included and I love it.
We all own our tendencies. Its fabulous being surrounded by others like me. We can exist in geekdom and nobody cares. We all embrace it and we got to do it for 2 whole days. Yay.
I originally had a plan for other kinds of blogs this month, but I think it is time for a switch. This stuff that was discussed at this event is too important not to share with all of you.
I wanted to spend today, talking about the Hoohaa. You know, the vaginal microbiome. The “v” word is a bit taboo I know but it has to be said, I’m sorry.
Before I start, the microbiome that is all the rage to talk about right now is the gut microbiome. It is made up of trillions of bacteria and they aren’t all the same. We have a variety and each person’s microbiome is different. It basically runs the show meaning the strength of our immune system. Our ability to resist and fight illness. Plays a huge role in leaky gut. It has been referred to as the second brain. It is involved in a lot of shit in the body. But the buzz is changing.
We don’t just have a gut microbiome. Our mouth, our mucous membranes, our eyes, etc, and yes, the vagina all have their own microbiomes. Microbiomes are all over our body. You might think that they are all similar in content. The gut microbiome has a massive variety of bacteria to keep it healthy and to help communication in the body and support our immune system. I suspected that the workings of one microbiome would be similar to the others in the body, but the reality is not so. They are all very different.
And, it turns out, that yes, the vaginal microbiome is very different, according to Dr. Jacques Ravel, Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Associate Director for Genomics at the Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. He spoke to us about just this at the symposium. He studies the v-jay-jay.
According to this wonderful man, it changes as women move through the cycles of life kind of like seasons. And not just that, haha, it can vary significantly between women. Essentially, we all have a microbiome specific to us between our legs.
The vaginal microbiome is very, very acidic. To fend off exposure to penetrating appendages that have their own microbiome, haha, and other germs and bacteria that we have exposure to. Acidity makes it hard for the invading bacteria and bugs to thrive or live, so they die off.
Lactobacillus bacteria, 4 types of it to be exact, seem to play a huge role in the functioning of this microbiome. In the evaluation of several hundred vaginal microbiomes, the interesting thing was that not everyone has the same mix of bacteria according to Dr. Ravel.
Unfortunately, the ability to keep any microbiome healthy in this day and age is hard and requires proactive work at best, including all the lifestyle factors (diet, sleep, exercise, stress management). And it requires supporting the body with use of products that are free of gluten, chemicals, endotoxins, soy, estrogen producing products, parabens etc. It means limiting antibiotics. And it is likely that this contributes to the differences. But the bottom line is that we are all different.
And there were some women with no Lactobacillus in their vaginal microbiome according to Dr. Ravel, which was surprising because they were A-Symptomatic, meaning having no symptoms or issues. And likely not existing at the level of acidity that was needed to be healthy.
And there were other women with no Lactobacillus with many vaginal issues including Bacterial Vaginosis which was also a big discussion. Approximately 40% of women have experienced BV and it can be very unpleasant, or again, having no symptoms. And once a woman has had BV, it tends to be recurring.
In our mini session with Dr. Ravel, he asked us if we had success treating BV. Some practitioners have used boric acid, which he confirmed only about 50% effective and it did tend to wipe out the vaginal microbiome. Other’s talked about using Bio-botanical’s Biocidin capsules as a suppository to help eradicate the issues. Some talked about using Megaspore capsules in the same way. But the bottom line is, for all of his studying, he hasn’t found a really good way to wipe out BV without the use of antibiotics, sadly.
Here is a fun fact for you. The lubricant that the doctors use for any vaginal exam affects the vaginal microbiome negatively. And in delivery, it is averaged at approximately 16 internal exams per delivery. That means they use that lubricant 16 times in your vaginal cavity disrupting the bacteria that you will be transferring to your child to begin their own microbiome. Their first chance at health and a strong immune system could be impacted and this is tragic. Apparently saline would work just as well without the affect. Just a small tidbit that I learned.
And once we are in menopause, the Lactobacillus seems to go away. Hmmm, does that mean the lactobacillus is there to keep us healthy during our childbearing years. And of course, to spread the bacteria to our children as they move through the birth canal helping to develop their microbiome.
And with the Lactobacillus booking it as we get older, that begs some questions.
How do we keep the vaginal tissue from atrophying? Vaginal atrophy is real after menopause sets in. It is our reality.
Oh, what does that mean, atrophy?
Well, it means it dries up. Tissues thin out and become less elastic (stretchy) making intercourse more painful. Yeast infections and UTI’s become more prevalent. No reason to use it anymore I guess at this point since we are no longer of childbearing age. Thanks mother nature. What’s a girl to do?
I know many that use and have even recommended coconut oil as a lubrication. It can work but it doesn’t solve the pain or the atrophy. And I learned this weekend that there haven’t really been any studies to determine the affects of the coconut oil on the vaginal microbiome. Does it wipe out the bacteria? We don’t know.
And sadly, there isn’t big money in vaginas. Now, that’s a funny. At least not from a medical perspective so it makes it hard to get grants for research. And that is also sad. It seems there is a lot to be learned in there.
But I did take away a few things. Diet and the lifestyle factors are always going to be important in the health of any of our microbiomes. Stress and inflammation in the body will affect it. Chemical, metal, environmental, mycotoxins, and endotoxins are going to affect this microbiome as well as all the others. It is all tied together. One can’t work without the other operating at 100%.
It isn’t all doom and gloom. The good news is that you are now aware of a few things that might not be serving you. You do know that some are passionate about your Hoohaa and there will be more to come. The more information out there the better. There is a product out there already called Julva by Dr. Anna Cabeca. The reviews are stellar. It works to plump up the tissues and bring back the vibrancy of that area. I have recommended it to several people already with some rave reviews and shhhhh, I might be using it too. Haha. It was the first discussion with all my new peeps at the symposium. The conversations we have to serve our clients. Amazing!!!
And, there is another product in the works. Releasing in early 2020. A lubricant that supports the vaginal microbiome. That is all I can tell you right now. Once I can share that information with you, I will definitely pass that along.
I like to save the good news until the end.
Hey my pack members using the Julva, love for you to comment so the other ladies can hear what you have to say.
Have a great rest of your week.