Nature Medicine | Spoonful of Medicine

‘The Vagina Catalogues’ show a microbiome in flux, sometimes daily

When the vaginal microbiome gets out of whack, it causes an uncomfortable, often chronic condition known as bacterial vaginosis, which is associated with pregnancy complications such as premature birth as well as a heightened risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. But finding ways to return the disrupted vaginal microbiome to its normal, healthy state has proven difficult because nobody knows what ‘normal’ really means. As Nature Medicine reported in a July 2011 news feature, a team of scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore had found that there are many naturally occurring versions of the microbiome, in part because the bacteria present in a woman’s vagina may vary according to her ethnicity. 


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