Infertility is hard. Few couples are open about their struggle. As you watch friend after friend easily become pregnant, so many people wonder “what’s wrong with me?” The answer may be in the microbiome.
Infertility Can be Caused by Dysbiosis
Comparing the The CDC’s 2002 and 2017 National Survey of Family Growth shows that among married U.S. women 15 to 44 years of age, there has been a 30% increase in the number of women experiencing difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a child to term.
In the last 20 years, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and use of surrogates has exploded. Many of the issues women (and men) have that results in lower rates of pregnancy can be attributed to changes in our microbiome and immune system.
A healthy vaginal microbiome is mostly Lactobacillus species. They support normal health and conception by producing lactic acid which increases the pH, hydrogen peroxide which reduces inflammation, and antibacterials that prevent infection. If a woman is missing Lactobacillus, it can cause bacterial vaginosis. Without Lactobacillus, infections and pH changes allow yeast growth.
Different Types of Microbiome Imbalances
Bacterial vaginosis had long been known to be associated with late-term pregnancy loss and preterm birth. Now, several studies show that vaginosis is also a leading cause of infertility.
Up to 40% of patients undergoing IVF cycles have abnormal vaginal microbiomes. Studies showed that in the presence of Strep and low pH, IVF success was cut in half. At the time of embryo transfer, a vaginal microbiome composed of Lactobacillus is most likely to be successful.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), affects 8 -13% of women leading to irregular menstrual cycles, infrequent ovulation, increased testosterone levels, and infertility. A number of studies have shown that women with PCOS have decreased diversity of bacteria in their gut, and share the types of gut biomes most often found in obesity.
Probiotic Treatments for Infertility
A prenatal probiotic can help if it contains proven strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. A probiotic must be supported with a healthy diet, proper rest, lowered stress, and as few chemicals (cleaning products and beauty products) as possible.
Restoring the microbiome balance in your gut and vaginal tract, will help keep you healthy.