Gut Health and Vaginal Health

By Nikki Webster | July 22nd, 2019 | Women

You’ve probably heard a lot about gut health, how it impacts our digestive system, our immune health and even our nervous system. But did you know it also impacts our vaginal and hormonal health?

For example, gut dysbiosis (an imbalance of bad to good bacteria in the gut) has been linked to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). A study involving 33 participants showed that women with PCOS had significantly lower levels of good bacteria and peptide YY, ghrelin and serotonin (which all play a part in appetite) and higher levels of bad bacteria such as Streptococcus, Bacteroides, Escherichia, and Shigella. Of course, our hormone system is a complex one and is affected by numerous factors (internal and external). However, it is interesting to see that our microbiome is involved in this too.

Our mucosa membrane is the largest surface layer in our bodies. It is a moist layer made up mostly of epithelial cells and covers from our mouth to our anus, our respiratory system and our urogenital system including the vagina, vulva, fallopian tubes (in women) uterus, bladder, kidneys, and testes (in men). It protects us from pathogenic bacteria and is also responsible for most of our absorption of food (nutrients). It is believed that there is a singular mucosal central command centre, meaning if one part is inflamed/weakened/permeated then other areas in the body with a mucous membrane will be too. An example of this is people diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease have been known to experience sinus and urine infections/inflammation issues too.

Supporting the mucosal layer through adequate vitamin C and A along with helpful aids such goldenseal can be effective in strengthening the mucosal layer (always ensure to work with a trained professional before starting a supplement programme). Also, removing known antagonists such as food irritants, medications, alcohol, caffeine and pathogenic bacteria will support healing.

Our gut microbiome plays an integral role in our general health. Vaginas also have a microbiome, and this can be influenced by internal and external factors. Gut dysbiosis can impact our vaginal microbiome and some specific strains of bacteria in probiotics have been proven to reach the vagina such as Lactobacillus Reuteri RC-14 and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GR-1. These strains have been clinically proven to enhance women’s vaginal health and can be helpful for the prevention and treatment of conditions such as Bacterial Vaginitis and Thrush.

External factors such as chlorine, laundry detergent, personal lubricants, soaps, bodywashes, fragrances, sex, spermicide and even coconut oil can destroy the vaginal microbiome.

Research has shown that probiotics can be helpful in the prevention of urinary tract infections too; clinical studies have shown women experiencing them less frequently or none at all after a period of probiotic supplementation.

So if you are experiencing vaginal conditions, treatment doesn’t seem to be working and you’ve removed the external aggravating factors, perhaps look at improving your gut health. Encouraging a healthy microbiome by eating a variety of foods (8 – 10 fruits and veg a day) including good sources of fibre and a good probiotic supplement will help to increase your levels and diversity of good bacteria which will help to fight off the bad bacteria. Removing food irritants, allergies/intolerances, alcohol, processed food, medications like NSAIDs (painkillers), high sugar diets and other factors that irritate the gut lining for a period of time will also give it a chance to heal. Additionally, changing all your products to natural organic ones will reduce your toxic load and support proper hormone metabolism in your liver.

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About Nikki Webster

Gut Health and Vaginal Health
Nikki Webster is a registered Nutritional Therapist (BA, DipCNM, mANP, rGNC) based in Manchester and is the founder of Nutritional Wellbeing, an evidenced-based nutritional therapy business aimed at supporting clients to achieve their health goals. Nikki has personally experienced some acute and chronic health conditions such as endometriosis, chronic UTIs, Clostridium Difficile and anxiety. Through nutrition support, Nikki has been able to get back to good health and feels passionately about sharing her knowledge to support others back to health too.

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