Create Account | Sign In: Author or Forum

 
 
News  |  Journals  |  Conferences  |  Blogs  |  Articles  |  Forums  |  Twitter    
 

 Headlines:

 

Category: Gynecology | Infections | News

Back to Health News

Study Redefines What a Healthy Vagina Is

Last Updated: May 02, 2012.

 

Scientists found 'bacterial community' differs among women and even changes in same woman

Share |

Comments: (0)

Tell-a-Friend

 

  Related
 
Scientists found 'bacterial community' differs among women and even changes in same woman.

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Bacteria that live normally in the vagina differ from woman to woman and can even change dramatically in short periods of time in the same woman, a new analysis reveals.

The findings are likely to alter the one-size-fits-all diagnosis and treatment of vaginal infections that currently prevails among obstetricians and gynecologists.

"This certainly changes the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of vaginosis (bacterial infection in the vagina)," said Stephen Dewhurst, chairman of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "Among other things, this makes vaginosis much harder to diagnose. If [vaginal bacteria] change over time, how sure are you that this really is vaginosis?"

Dewhurst was not involved with the study, which appears in the May 2 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"In the practice of medicine, all women have been considered pretty much the same when it comes to vaginal microbiota, with the same treatment," said study senior author Jacques Ravel, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Antibiotics typically are prescribed to treat vaginosis.

"In some people [treatments] work really well, and in some they fail," said Ravel, who also is associate director of the university's Institute for Genome Sciences. "Now we know it's because not all women are made equal."

Prior research by the same group had identified five basic microbial communities in the vagina. The researchers also found that these communities tended to vary according to ethnicity.

The balance of microbial communities is vital in protecting women from infections, including sexually transmitted diseases.

But bacterial vaginosis -- when one type of bacteria thrives and dominates other types, which raises the risk of infection -- is extremely common.

Ravel and his co-authors collected vaginal bacterial samples from 32 healthy, reproductive-age women twice a week for four months, and then analyzed the samples using genomic techniques.

Again the researchers found five basic bacterial communities, and also noted that some changed rapidly in the same woman while others stayed stable.

In some cases, the collection of bacteria seen in a particular woman would have indicated the presence of bacterial vaginosis, although these women were healthy and not experiencing any symptoms.

"This changes what we consider to be a normal bacterial community in the vagina," Dewhurst said.

Changes in bacterial communities tended to correspond with estrogen levels at different points in the menstrual cycle, the particular composition of bacteria in a woman's vagina and sexual activity.

It's also likely that what a woman eats or the environment in which she lives will affect microbial composition, Ravel added.

The authors postulated that microbiota that fluctuated regularly may make a woman more vulnerable to infection.

"Bacterial vaginosis is linked to transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, so this is a potentially significant risk factor for acquiring sexually transmitted diseases," Dewhurst said.

And if it turns out that there is a "new normal" of vaginal microbiota depending on the woman, this could curb the overuse of antibiotics, the authors said.

Vaginal bacteria also can affect pregnancy and fertility. The composition of vaginal microbiota and of a man's sperm could mean that a woman is fertile with one man and infertile with another, an accompanying editorial suggested.

"We need to rethink the way we approach women's health and treatment and diagnosis," Ravel said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on bacterial vaginosis.

SOURCES: Jacques Ravel, Ph.D., associate professor, microbiology and immunology, and associate director, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore; Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., professor and chairman, microbiology and immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.; May 2, 2012, Science Translational Medicine

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Previous: Scientists Spot How Cox-2 Painkillers Raise Heart Risks Next: Study: Gene Therapy for HIV Safe, But Effectiveness Still Unclear

Reader comments on this article are listed below. Review our comments policy.


Submit your opinion:

Name:

Email:

Location:

URL:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

advertisement.gif (61x7 -- 0 bytes)
 

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

 
     

 advertisement.gif (61x7 -- 0 bytes)

 

 

Useful Sites
MediLexicon
  Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us
Copyright © 2001-2014
Doctors Lounge.
All rights reserved.

Medical Reference:
Diseases | Symptoms
Drugs | Labs | Procedures
Software | Tutorials

Advertising
Links | Humor
Forum Archive
CME | Conferences

Privacy Statement
Terms & Conditions
Editorial Board
About us | Email

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.