Yes, Vaginas Have Their Own Microbiome. Here's What You Need To Know About It

Photo: Lyuba Burakova

A healthy vaginal microbiome might not be something we think about often, but like any other part of your body—such as the gut, skin, and eyes—the balance of microbes in the vagina is vital to overall feminine health. In fact, it might be affecting your overall health and wellness without your knowledge. Luckily, scientists and researchers are learning more and more about this very special microbiome every day.

Learn about the microbes in your vagina.

So, what kind of microbes, specifically, are inhabiting this part of your body? Just like your gut, the microbes in the vagina are diverse and plentiful. Let’s get up close and personal with some of the major players living in this part of the body:

1. Potentially harmful bacteria:

Common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and mycoplasma genitalium can directly cause symptoms in your body, but these bacteria are also connected intimately with the vaginal microbiome and are affected by all of the other microbes living in your vagina.

2. General vaginal flora:

Your vagina is also home to many beneficial organisms that can help prevent STIs, encourage HPV infections to clear from the body, and keep you feeling healthy. When your vaginal microbiome is out of balance, it can also lead to a condition called bacterial vaginosis (BV), which affects millions of women each year.

3. HPV:

There are many different strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus often clears on its own, but some strains of HPV are associated with genital warts and cervical cancer, so it’s something that you and your doctor want to be monitoring.

Meet the test that will tell you all about them.

Photo: Lyuba Burakova

SmartJane™ is the world’s first test that can tell you what’s really going on "down there," including different types of HPV, other sexually transmitted infections, and 23 different types of microbes that contribute to your overall health. In addition, SmartJane reports on connections between your unique vaginal microbiome and many health conditions, including bacterial vaginosis, cervicitis, idiopathic infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and aerobic vaginitis.

If you do have HPV, SmartJane can tell you whether or not it’s the type of HPV associated with cervical cancer (called "high-risk strains"), or with genital warts (called "low-risk strains"). All of this information can help you feel informed and empowered when you follow up with your health care provider.

SmartJane does not screen for cancer and is not intended to replace traditional Pap smears or well-woman visits. SmartJane is only available with a valid lab test order from a health care provider.

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Live a life that supports your microbiome.

Photo: Lyuba Burakova

Now that you’re a little more familiar with your vaginal microbiome and SmartJane testing, think about taking actions to support healthy vaginal flora. First, always practice safe sex and get tested for STIs frequently. You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement or eating more probiotic foods, which will support the health of the beneficial bacteria in your body. Probiotic foods include pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt, just to name a few.

In general, try to eat a diet that is rich in colorful fruits and veggies—and low in added and refined sugars, which feed things like yeast—to support your immune system and the delicate balance of bacteria the inhabits all areas of your body.

You may not have thought about it much before, but the vaginal microbiome is a major player in your sexual health and overall well-being. SmartJane is the perfect way to get acquainted with this aspect of your health and feel much more empowered when it comes to your feminine health.

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