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  • Writer's pictureDr. H. Singh, ND

Invisible Reproductive Disease and an 18% Lower Chance for Pregnancy



Facing infertility can involve confronting several challenges along the journey. One such challenge is trying to ascertain what is causing your unexplained infertility (or recurrent implantation failure or recurrent pregnancy loss) when you have already taken all of the 'correct' steps for your fertility treatments and reproductive health. While some causes of infertility are more well-known, there's a hidden cause that often goes undetected: vaginal dysbiosis.


The Reproductive Microbiome:


When we talk about the microbiome, we often think about the gut. But did you know that the reproductive system also has its own ecosystem of bacteria? In particular, the vaginal microbiome plays a crucial role in reproductive health. Ideally, it's dominated by beneficial lactobacilli, those fertility friendly bacteria that help maintain a healthy pH balance and protect against infections.


Vaginal Dysbiosis:


However, the balance of bacteria in the reproductive tract can sometimes start to change and can negatively affect reproductive outcomes. This condition, known as vaginal dysbiosis, occurs when there's an imbalance in the vaginal microflora. Unlike infections such as bacterial vaginosis, vaginal dysbiosis often presents no symptoms, making it a silent but significant issue.


The Impact on Infertility:


Recent research has established a crucial link between vaginal dysbiosis and infertility. A systematic review involving over 6000 patients undergoing IVF treatment revealed a startling finding: an 18% decrease in the chances of a positive clinical pregnancy in Patients that had vaginal dysbiosis. This statistic underscores the importance of addressing this often-overlooked aspect of our reproductive health. While this particular review established correlation, but failed to establish causation due to the nature of the study, there are now several studies that have similarly found that reproductive dysbiosis negatively affected the chances for successful fertility treatment outcomes.


Understanding the Risk:


What's even more concerning is that vaginal dysbiosis can affect up to 1 in 5 couples dealing with infertility, with no detectable symptoms. While certain conditions like endometriosis may increase the risk, it can also occur in couples with no other reproductive disorders. This highlights the need for proactive screening and intervention in couples undergoing fertility treatment.


Diagnosis and Treatment:


While advanced tests are available to help diagnose vaginal dysbiosis, their accuracy is still questionable. For example, a vaginal swab may pick up certain infections but may have very poor accuracy in actually detecting vaginal dysbiosis. Alternatively, more advanced tests may provide greater accuracy but can often be both expensive and invasive. A detailed conversation regarding your health history may help identify certain risk factors and support clinical suggestions for personalized and preventative treatment strategies.


Conclusion:


As you navigate the complexities of infertility, it's essential to consider all possible factors that may impact your chances of success. The vaginal microbiome, while often overlooked, plays a significant role in your reproductive health and fertility. By understanding the link between the vaginal microbiome and fertility, couples can take proactive steps under medical guidance from their Naturopathic Doctor to help address this hidden obstacle on their path to pregnancy.


This article is being shared as educational content and is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor. Please discuss with your healthcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance and supervision.





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