The vaginal microbiome, vol. 4.
Biohacking has started off a revolution in our realisation of our bodies, from head to toe. It is truly an inspiring area and direction, thanks to which our relationship with our body’s physiology does not resemble a clinical transaction that we fear and dislike, but rather a constantly evolving process of knowing oneself. However, few people know what exactly can be optimised in the body if you are a woman. Or – to be politically correct – if you have a vagina. Regardless of how you feel within your body, if you have a female intimate garden down there, you should know what gardeners you need and how they should tend to it. Female biohacking differs from male biohacking in many aspects, but the vaginal microbiome is a good place to start.
Your gardners, your bodyguards
The vaginal microbiome is a specific unit of the human microbiome. Since every woman is unique, so is her vaginal microbiome, her intimate garden, just like her fingerprints. The garden is affected by a number of physiological processes, her sexual activity, lifestyle, but also her hygiene – whether is too much or too little. There are several gardeners in this garden, who look after it lovingly. These include microbial species, usually Lactobacilli which are able to use the glycogen controlled by the oestrogens. Although you can also find other gardeners in your garden, Lactobacilli are your personal bodyguards among other things. Studies have shown that in women with a low number of these gardeners, the Lactobacilli, the probability of development of high-risk HPV strains which may cause cervical cancer is higher. (1)
At the same time, the Lactobacilli are fermentation bacteria that, together with the cells of the vaginal epithelium, produce lactic acid in our garden, seeing that our vaginal environment needs to be acidic, so that the garden may be fresh and healthy, and the flowers may grow in just the right amount. Lactic acid likes to appear in two different outfits – isomeric forms. If it only wears one outfit over and over again, it is not as good as combining the relative ratio of the two. In such a case, it provides the vaginal microbiome with a certain degree of stability and resistance to some intruders that would often like to invade the garden – infections. (2)
How can you take care of your intimate garden & ensure vaginal wellness?
Despite the fact that science still knows little about the vaginal microbiome, there are some bits and pieces of information to be found. It is hard to say how to optimise your vaginal microbiome, as we have no definition of a healthy vaginal microbiome. We will therefore approach it using other microbiomes and the principles of equilibrium in our body – homeostasis. Let’s see where the road takes us.
- Excessive hygiene kills the gardeners
Our vagina is a self-cleaning organ that needs no make-up or perfume. It has everything it needs. If we give it space and support a healthy environment inside, it will do the rest of the work on its own. The gardeners taking care of our intimate garden know what to do. Unnecessarily frequent showering, bathing and intimate hygiene kill our gardeners, thus robbing us of our main protectors and bodyguards. This creates an opening for intruders, read infections. So, if we have no problems, simple water is enough to wash ourselves. If we suffer from inflammations or yeast infections, we can use some gentle natural soap which agrees with our garden and does not harm the flowers that grow there.
2. Contract more gardeners
If you love fermented foods, such as kimchi, kombucha, coconut yoghurt or kefir, now you have one more reason to enjoy them! Thanks to their high content of Lactobacilli, our garden can receive another team of gardeners. You can ingest Lactobacilli in different ways: either eating these functional foods which we at Systers buy from the Czech company Wild & Coco, or taking external probiotics as we do, from another Czech firm, Vitalvibe. In the long run, we recommend taking Black Stuff which helps balance all the microbiomes of the body, gradually, over a longer period of time. After a while, we should not need any probiotics anymore, as our body can produce them itself, thanks to these prebiotics.
3. Vaginal wellness worthy of experimentation and self-knowledge
Since the science in this area is in its infancy, we can only do what our great-grandmothers used to do – be perceptive to ourselves and remember that we already know everything we need, and it is inside us. You are your own best gardener and protector. You know best what you need and if you don’t, you can embark on a journey of self-knowledge. Pay attention to how you feel in your intimate garden if you have some fermented yoghurt, if you shower often or if you only shower occasionally. How do you feel after making love with your partner, and what changes if you change your behaviour? Experiment, play, and get to know yourself. It is a fascinating journey that never ends.
4. Plan a preventive visit to the department of venerology
The area of venerology (3) is not very popular, but it is a good idea to visit it every now and again. If you change partners, we recommend a visit after every change. This affects not only you, but also the other person. Many women do not know that they have yeast, even though they feel that something is not quite right “down there” and suffer from frequent itching. If you are prone to recurrent urinary tract infections, you might find out that the bacterium Ureaplasma urealyticum is present in your body. It behaves like a secret agent, playing hide-and-seek. It causes the need to urinate and burning sensations, among other things. If you find out you do not have Ureaplasma, you should celebrate.
You will learn a lot more about the vaginal microbiome here on our blog. We are preparing an e-book and animated videos for better understanding. For the time being, try one little experiment.
A vaginal experiment
Take your diary, write down today’s date and at least for the next 30 days observe how your behaviour affects your intimate garden.
- Current state: Write down the state of your vaginal wellness, how you feel in your garden. Is it good? Does it burn? Tickle? Is there any discharge? Or perhaps no discharge? Do not judge, just observe and describe the state. Ideally write it down on a piece of paper.
- The journey: Experiment, observe, and take notes for the next 30 days. Become a scientist who studies herself. What happens if you have some fermented foods, if you drink more or less water, if you eat sugar and if you don’t? What happens if you get less sleep and if you sleep enough? How does the environment of your private garden change if you exercise and if you spend all day sitting at a desk?
- Experiment evaluation: After a month of such observation, take a look at what you learned about yourself and evaluate the experiment. Did you reach any conclusions that you can implement in your daily life? Did you obtain no results whatsoever? Both outcomes are fine. You can repeat this experiment over and over again, for as long as you would like. 🙂