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Vaginal flora

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The vaginal flora is balanced just like our ecosystem. The good bacteria dwelling in the vagina naturally contribute to maintaining its health, Ph and hygiene. The primary microorganism is the lactobacillus species that help to balance the acidity of the vagina.

 

Composition of vaginal flora

Lactobacilli – More than 20 different species constitute the vaginal flora

Lactobacillus species are caretakers of the vagina. They protect your vagina in the following ways:

Lactic acid: Your vagina an acidic ph due the lactic acid secreted by the lactobacilli bacteria and it forms the basis for safeguarding your vagina against a wide range of infections. The acidic environment proves killer for harmful pathogens like E.coli, staph species, N. gonorrhoeae, etc.

Hydrogen peroxide: The chemical compound is also synthesized by lactobacilli and it is potentially capable of inhibiting growth of dangerous microorganisms like herpes simplex virus, Trichomonas vaginalis and E.coli as well.

Other substances synthesized by lactobacilli that preserve health of your vagina are organic acids and bacteriocins. All these substances have a combined effect in striking a perfect acidic balance of the vagina.

 

Factors affecting vaginal flora

There are several factors that can create an imbalance in vaginal flora and shift its PH towards the alkaline side. Under such circumstances you become vulnerable to vaginal infections and sexually transmitted diseases. The healthy flora reduces and it overpowered by harmful microorganisms.

  •  Douching and flushing

Douches though seemingly seem to clean your vagina, actually disrupts its natural balance. Instead of disinfecting the environment douching removes the healthy microbial flora. Similarly, flushing your vagina too harshly and repeatedly, especially during your periods can result in the same.

  • Hormonal changes

Drop in estrogen level or imbalance in any other hormones during menstruation, pregnancy or breastfeeding times can reduce the good bacteria from your vagina and make you vulnerable to infections.

  • Side effects of medicines and health complications
Medicines like birth control pills, antibiotics, etc. when consumed on long term basis also creates disturbances in the vaginal flora by altering its Ph. Immunological disorders and diabetes are also responsible for interfering with the healthy vaginal flora.

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What happens when vaginal flora is disturbed?

  • You become vulnerable to a host range of infections. It could be pathogenic yeast, bacteria and virus. They give rise to symptoms like itchiness, rashes and irritation in and around the vagina
  • Sexually transmitted infections can pass on easily while having unprotected sex.
  •  Foul fishy smell from vagina with increase in white discharge, change in its color and smell.

 

How to maintain healthy vaginal flora?

To restore the ph of your vagina within 4 to 4.5 along with a healthy composition of lactobacillus species, you can try the following options

  • Avoid using douches, perfumed cleansers and other cosmetic products. Keep your vagina clean by rinsing it gently with mild soap and make sure it’s dry
  • Check with a doctor if you suspect of infections from the unusual symptoms. You might be given antibiotics or simple lactobacillus cream to   restore normal vaginal flora
  • Your diet matters too. Yogurt and probiotics contain lactobacillus which naturally helps maintaining your vaginal flora.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: September 28, 2014