Women's Health and Wellbeing
Problems in the Intimate Area
In addition to digestion, women also increasingly notice changes in the intimate area: the vaginal flora, an important protective shield against harmful germs, is often disturbed (dysbiotic). Usually, billions of different beneficial lactobacilli - also known as lactic acid bacteria - cavort in a healthy vaginal flora and ensure an acidic pH value (3.8 - 4.5): In this environment, undesirable germs (e.g. Gardnerella vaginalis) and fungi (e.g. Candida albicans) cannot multiply and thus do not penetrate the genital area, bladder, ureters and reproductive organs.
However, a reduction of lactobacilli in the vagina increases the risk of an infection in the intimate area: because if the useful lactic acid producers are reduced, the pH value in the vaginal area changes and offers pathogenic bacteria and fungi a real feel-good ambience to multiply - an imbalance in favour of the unwanted invaders arises. If one does not react immediately to the first signs of vaginal dysbiosis, pathogenic germs can overgrow the entire urogenital tract, and this is then not only noticeable with fishy-smelling discharge, itching and burning, but can also lead to persistently recurring bladder infections.
Intestinal & Vaginal Flora
The build-up of the vaginal flora already takes place from birth through the oral intake of beneficial bacteria. These important symbionts know exactly their destination in the human body and find their place within a very short time. But how do bacteria from the intestine get into the vaginal area? This can be explained by the female anatomy: The anal area, vaginal area and urinary tract are not "tight", closed systems, but open out into orifices. Between the anal and vaginal areas there is a "mucus pathway": Via this physiological transport pathway, lactobacilli are permanently transported from the rectum, which serves as a reservoir for useful lactic acid bacteria, forward into the vagina.
Wellbeing Inside and Out
The female digestive tract also often gets out of step: women are affected by constipation twice as often as men, and it is often accompanied by unpleasant flatulence. The reason for this is usually the stressful everyday life women are confronted with: Between work, family, household and leisure time stress, there is hardly any time for a quiet walk to the toilet, for a meal or even its enjoyable consumption. Selected dietary fibres or the concentrated power of the exotic papaya are tried and tested natural remedies for a natural boost in the intestines.
What can effect the balance of the vaginal flora?
The balance of the vaginal flora is very sensitive: once out of step, complaints usually occur again and again, because germs such as Gardnerella vaginalis in particular form a regular biofilm when they overgrow the intimate area, which adheres to the vagina and can cause problems again and again: It is therefore not surprising that 60 % of women experience the same symptoms again six months after bacterial vaginosis.
Like the intestinal flora, the composition of the vaginal flora also varies from person to person - which is why some women are more susceptible to infections. Various influences sensitively disturb the balance in the intimate area:
- Hormonal changes (e.g. during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause) are often a reason for a dysbalance of the vaginal flora, because the hormone oestrogen also determines the number of lactobacilli in the vagina. A low oestrogen level (such as occurs during and after the period) is accompanied by a reduced number of lactic acid bacteria.
- Stress is also a significant factor that unbalances the vaginal flora and promotes the development of infections. The currently prevailing permanent psychological strain is thus literally a stress factor for the intimate area.
- Antibiotics also disturb the composition of the vaginal flora, as they destroy not only harmful but also useful germs. Therefore, after each antibiotic administration, it makes sense to support not only the intestinal flora but also the vaginal flora with targeted probiotics.
- Hygiene is important - but you should not overdo it, especially in the intimate area: To prevent the pH value of the vagina from becoming unbalanced, only pure water or products especially suitable for the intimate area should be used for cleansing (but no conventional shower gels).
Since the intestinal flora forms the basis for the bacterial colonisation of the vagina, it is also obvious that a disturbed intestinal microbiome - due to stress, a high-sugar diet or medication - can also promote a dysbiosis of the vaginal flora.
8 Tips for Intimate Care
An intact protective shield of lactic acid bacteria is essential for keeping the intimate area healthy. With a few tips, the sensitive vaginal flora can be supported every day:
- Natural intimate care: Gentle cleansing with lukewarm water is completely sufficient. If necessary, special products for intimate care can support the pH value that is favourable for lactic acid bacteria. Avoid fragrances in panty liners, wet wipes, contraceptives etc.
- Avoid artificial hormones in the diet: Avoid artificial hormones completely if possible. Meat or dairy products from the supermarket are often hormonally treated and sometimes contain the artificially produced hormone xenoestrogen, which can upset the natural hormone balance. Therefore, look for organic quality or buy directly from organic farmers or at the market.
- Proper cleaning method: Many harmful germs are excreted with the stool. Therefore, clean yourself from front to back after using the toilet so that these germs do not enter the vagina.
Breathable underwear: Harmful fungi and bacteria thrive in the warm, moist environment of synthetic fabrics. Therefore, you should prefer breathable underwear made of cotton.
- Protected sexual intercourse: Not only the vagina is colonised with bacteria, but also the penis. During sexual intercourse, bacteria from the penis can enter the vagina and cause various diseases. To minimise this risk as much as possible, it is always advisable to use a condom if you are prone to vaginal infections. Alternating between anal and vaginal intercourse also increases the risk of vaginal infections.
- Relax: Stress and a weakened immune system favour the implantation of pathogens. Therefore, support your immune system with important vitamins and take care of your mental health!
- Avoid sweets: Sugar is food for harmful microorganisms and high consumption can cause them to colonise more easily.
- Probiotics: Support your vaginal flora with lactic acid bacteria, which can colonise and multiply in the vagina and specifically inhibit the growth of harmful germs and fungi. Clinically tested probiotics for oral administration (e.g. to drink) are ideal, because this hygienic application can prevent additional irritation of the sensitive vagina and the transmission of germs on the hands.
If you are currently pregnant or have recently become a mother, you can find more information on the topic of "Pregnancy and breastfeeding" here.
It is important to get a medical diagnosis of any complaints in the intimate area, to confirm the diagnosis (e.g. by means of a vaginal smear test), and to take appropriate treatment to restore the balance of the vaginal flora as quickly as possible and to prevent harmful germs from spreading to the abdominal cavity.
Please note that the contents of this page are for information purposes only. In case of persistent complaints, please consult a doctor.