Preventing Vaginal Infection by Keeping the Vaginal Microbiome Healthy
Vaginal health is something the public knows very, very little about. For a long time vaginal health was not really discussed and quite frankly wasn’t researched. Thankfully that is starting to change. With revolutionary inventions such as birth control and menstrual cups, women’s freedoms have risen and women are boldly bringing awareness of all kinds into mainstream discussions and changing them for the better. But, before women can care for the world (literally), women must care for themselves. Taking vaginal health seriously, as a part of the self care regimen, is a great way to start. Face masks are wonderful and lotions are nice, but what about the inside? Scientific exploration and education of women’s health concerns should be at the top of the priority list.
Photo by Rafał Szczawiński on Unsplash
What is the Microbiome and why is it important?
Most people are familiar with the stomach microbiome, which equates to the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi living inside of your stomach. The bacteria viruses and fungi are called microbes, as they are microscopic living things. Kinda creepy right? But these microbes are extremely critical to human health, vital to the functioning of your immune system, brain and so on. Healthline reports, “…there are more bacterial cells in your body than human cells. There are roughly 40 trillion bacterial cells in your body and only 30 trillion human cells. That means you are more bacteria than human.”
The Vaginal Microbiome?
The vagina has its own microbiome!!
Here’s what you need to know:
- Lactobacillus is the most prominent bacteria of the microbiome, which produces lactic-acid and other antibacterial compounds to keep the acidic balance of the vaginal tract, to stop any pathogenic and non-resident microbes.
- Without the proper acidic conditions, women become more susceptible to disease, disorders, and sexually transmitted infections.
- The microbiome of the vagina fluxuates, but tracking disruptions are key because when the vaginal microbiome is disrupted it is associated with bacterial vaginosis, a thrown off pH balance in the vagina, and this leaves one much more susceptible to disease, disorder, and infections.
It’s important to understand that women have absolutely no idea when the levels of their microbiota are disrupted. Just as I can’t tell when the levels of microbiome in my stomach are “off.” Luckily, research has illustrated that there are predictable times when the microbiome will become disrupted, specifically at the beginning and end of one’s menstrual cycle. This is why we recommend using our new Vaginal Flora Balancing Gel end of your cycle, as well as when needed. Not only will this help to keep your vaginal microbiome in balance, but it will prevent menstrual cramps before they start! Two birds, one stone.
Why will this new gel help keep your vaginal microbiome happy and well fed? First of all, of course it has no harsh chemicals or fragrances, only the strongest flower power. Our first flower is our queen: CBD. Cannabinoids have been clinically proven to help balance the stomach’s microbiome, yet sadly there is yet to be research into CBD and the vaginal microbiome. But, scientific research has proven that cannabinoids are anti bacterial, anti inflammatory, normalize immune response, and their goal is to maintain balance/homeostasis at a cellular level (when there is too much immune activity they de-escalate and when there is not enough the ramp it up). Additionally, this gel contains vegan lactic acid, the chemical which is produced by the domante microbiota, lactobacillus, in healthy women. Lactic acid is so important to the vaginal microbiome (and our body naturally produces it) because it is anti-bacterial and is vital to keeping the vagina in a healthy, acidic condition. Remember, maintaining the acidic nature of the vaginal tract restricts the growth of most pathogenic and non-resident microbes. Additionally the chicory root and ginseng in the Flora Balancing Gel work as vaginal probiotics. Finally, seaweed is an essential additional ingredient as it has been studied to be useful as a natural therapeutic agent for treating women with bacterial vaginosis (a disorder characteristic of a disrupted microbiome).
Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash
Random Stuff about Menstrual Cups
(Or not so random?)
Women: Finally, I had to include in this blog something very important to me, personally, as we are talking about periods and women’s health. Let’s start with women and the hazards that tampons offer us, yet are not talked about. I remember having dinner, at the mere age of 10, and meeting a woman with no hands and only one foot; toxic shock syndrome. I thought TSS was a story made up to scare women, but I found living proof and it made quite an impression on me. From 1979 through 1996, there were 5,296 cases of TSS reported and today, on an annual basis, approximately 1 in 100,000 women will get toxic shock. TSS arises from certain types of bacteria that feed on the bacteria of the tampon which enables them to produce a infection in the body of 2 types: TSS from S. aureus which has a mortality rate of between 5 and 15 percent, and TSS of the streptococcal bacteria which has a mortality rate between 30 to 70 percent. Now, menstrual cups are not perfect, there has been 1 TSS case reported, but still it’s a much better alternative.
The Environment: Along with protecting women, menstrual cups protect the environment. One woman will go through about 11,000 disposable pads/tampons in a lifetime. Tampons and pads with the packaging generate more than 200,000 tons of waste annually, and they all contain single-use plastic – pads are around 90% plastic! Additionally, creating tampons/pads is both resource and chemically expensive. Finally, in the UK around 2 billion period products are flushed down the toilet each year which are responsible for 75% of all blocked drains. Globalcitzen.org reports “With around 45 billion menstrual products disposed of globally every year, that’s a whole lot of waste. But the plastics used don’t biodegrade, and will remain in the environment for hundreds of years, contaminating land and oceans.” In comparison, menstrual cups are made from silicone, a material derived from a type of sand, silica, the second most abundant material on earth and one that isn’t harmful to our mother Gaia. Plus, you only need one, so less waste and it’s good for the bank account! At Botanicam, we care a lot about our planet. The more I come to learn about the hemp plant, the more appreciation I have for this Earth and how sacred our connection is to it.
Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash
I felt I needed to note the correspondence of the menstrual cup and it’s protection of women and nature simultaneously. Maybe you will find this a bit radical, I don’t mean to be, but I think neglecting women and their health is synonymous with neglecting the earth and its well-being. If we are not protecting women, the Earth, and it’s creatures? (and children of course too) Then what is our collective consciousness doing? The older I get, the more I realize how tied my consciousness is to the actions we take as a society. Now I am not anti-capitalist or a hater of my society which allows me so much freedom, but I am pro taking responsibility. That is why I am so happy to work at a company like Botanicam which puts people and the Earth before profit. This company makes sure all our the packaging materials are eco-friendly and sustainable, everyone who needs CBD can get it at an affordable price, to give back to the community, to not be afraid to take a stand (…or take off manufacturers) when they change their business mode to being unethical (cough… delta 8, cough..), and going the 10 extra miles to make sure our people get safe and quality CBD. These were costly decisions, and you know what? It actually has paid off, I have watched this company grow from the ground up, watched them make all of their choices in correspondence with their ethical values, and our customers appreciate it and keep coming back because they know that we are a company which protects our people and the plants before our own or anyone else’s bank accounts. A conscious business to combat an unconscious world is the only thing I will tolerate. Does this mean in light of everything coming out about Amazon and the workers conditions that I must stop supporting a company that does this to people? Maybe it does. I don’t know. But I do know that the world doesn’t change due to the big corporations, it changes because of the individuals that make up the society. The people truly do have the power, what do they do with it? What do I do with it? What do you do with it? Only history will tell.
An Article By Evie Louise
Evie Louise is a recent psychology graduate from New York University. She is a certified in International Cannabinoid Clinical Therapy. Evie sees all forms of the cannabis sativa plant as the future of psychiatry, and hopes to use it in her therapy practice as a full spectrum approach to mental health and wellness.