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AUTHOR - Chris K

What is the Intimate Microbiome?

What is the Intimate Microbiome?

You  may have heard a lot about the gut microbiome recently but did you know we have an intimate microbiome too and it's just as important! What does it actually mean though? The intimate microbiome is the community of microorganisms that live in the intimate area. Yes, you read that right – there are tiny, playful critters living down there!

Don't worry, these microbes are actually really important for your health. They work hard to keep your intimate area healthy and happy by maintaining a delicate balance of good bacteria.  So think of them like the tiny superheroes of your lady bits.

What affects the microbiome?

Your microbiome can change over time due to a variety of factors, mainly that bacteria can travel around from the bowel and into the vagina and bladder. When the good bacteria are reduced, it may lead to all sorts of problems like infections and irritation e.g. fungal or urinary tract issues are common. By understanding and taking care of your intimate microbiota, you can keep things in check and avoid any unwanted surprises. 

What are the triggers that can cause an imbalanced microbiome?

1. Hormonal changes - your hormone levels can affect the balance of bacteria in your microbiome. This can be during times such as your period or perimenopause or even post-partum. Lower hormone levels mean less food for the good bacteria which means they are less active and hence the pH changes. This in turn  creates an environment that's more conducive to the growth of certain types of bacteria thus shifting the balance of the microbiota.

2. Sexual activity - Having sex can introduce new bacteria into your vagina. Bacteria likes to travel around and this can change the balance of your microbiota.

3. Antibiotics - We take antibiotics when we need to be rid of an infection caused by bacteria, which is great but whilst antibiotics kill off the infection causing bacteria they can also kill off the good bacteria that balances the biome not only in the gut but the intimate microbiome too.

4. Lifestyle factors - Things like stress, diet, hygiene routines and exercise can all impact the health of your microbiome.

    How do you look after your microbiome?

    Don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom here are some tips to help you keep your microbiome happy:

    • Eat a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruits and veggies.
    • Avoid using harsh soaps and chemicals in the genital area.
    • Wear breathable, cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting clothes.
    • Practice safe sex by using condoms and getting regular STD testing. Also pee after sex to flush any unwanted bacteria out.
    • Stay hydrated and get enough sleep.

    Remember, your microbiome is your friend, not your enemy. So take care of it, and it will take care of you!

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