M At The Doctor

Intimate Hygiene: Preserving the vaginal flora

Continuation of the interview of Dr. Anne de Kervasdoué, a gynecologist.

When we talk about personal hygiene, we often talk about vaginal flora. What is it exactly ?

Dr. Anne de Kervasdoué : The vaginal and vulvar flora is the ecosystem that must be protected. This flora is a whole set of protective germs. And, when all goes well, all these protective bacteria live in harmony. In fact, from the birth of a little girl, her vagina is colonized by a beneficial bacterial flora. At the time of puberty, vaginal secretions increase and the flora transforms to become that of a woman.

The most important bacterium is the Döderlein bacillus, also known as Lactobacillus.

Why is this vaginal flora so important?

Dr. AK : This Döderlein bacillus has the ability to secrete certain substances that protect against infections: hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and lactic acid. In fact, these two substances prevent the proliferation of pathogenic germs. They are the ones that form a kind of natural barrier to infection. They are also the ones that maintain the correct level of acidity in the vagina: a PH between 3.8 and 4.5. If for some reason (antibiotics, for example), the Döderlein bacilli are destroyed or become insufficient in number, then the other germs of the vagina develop and it is imbalance and infection.

To protect this fragile ecosystem, good personal hygiene is the basis of prevention.

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