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Benefits of Gut Microbiome Testing for Women
Updated on August 30, 2022
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Microbiome
Benefits of Gut Microbiome Testing for Women
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Your gut flora can affect your body in many ways. Besides aiding digestion, they can influence your sleep, mood, appetite, stress levels, and resistance to infections.1,2

Gut bacteria levels can impact how your body absorbs and stores nutrients from digested food. It also has an effect on your energy levels and weight.3,4

Recently, scientists have discovered a connection between the gut and female health. Imbalances in the gut can increase your risk for genital infections.5

Using a stool sample and DNA analysis, a gut test can help you:

  • Understand your unique microbiome
  • Learn how it affects your physical, mental, and reproductive health. 

Below are 3 reasons why you should consider taking a gut health test.

1. Find Out If You Have Gut Imbalance

Each person has about 100 trillion bacteria living in their digestive tract. They belong to over 1,000 species and one of very few bacterial phyla.1,6 

The most dominant phyla are Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Fusobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia. Only two (Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes) make up 90% of your gut flora:7

Firmicutes are considered bad gut microbes. Bacteroides are thought to be the good guys.8

  • Firmicutes have a negative impact on fat and glucose metabolism. Increases in this bacteria have been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.8
  • Bacteroides generate amino acids like short-chain fatty acids (SFCAs), which help provide our body with energy. They also produce nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K when digesting certain foods.8,9

This doesn’t mean you don’t need Firmicutes or that Bacteroides can’t be harmful to your body.

For example, Firmicutes also help metabolize the SFCAs produced by Bacteroides. When Bacteroides escape your gut, they can cause abscess and infection.10,11

How A Gut Microbiome Test Can Help

Your health partly depends on this delicate balance between good and bad bacteria. Ideally, you want more of the good bacteria — and less of the harmful ones inside your gut.

Gut dysbiosis can occur when the amount of pathogens increases or the number of beneficial bacteria drops. Experts believe this can cause inflammation and disrupt your immune system.10

An imbalanced gut flora can lead to numerous health conditions.2,10,12 

These include food allergies, gastrointestinal disorders (such as Crohn’s disease), and food sensitivities (like leaky gut syndrome). 

It can also increase your risk for heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Microbiome test results can show you if you have:

  • Imbalanced gut flora
  • A healthy gut and digestive system

Symptoms such as chronic fatigue and irritability may be signs of an unhealthy gut. A gut test can help you understand why you may be experiencing these symptoms.

If you’re frequently tired, for example, a gut test may act as a diagnostic tool. It can help explain a possible connection with your gut flora.

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2. Learn Which Gut Bacteria Is Out Of Balance

Specific gut bugs are associated with certain health benefits. For example:

  • Lactobacilli acidophilus and L. bulgaricus can help you digest the lactose found in fermented dairy products, such as yogurt.13
  • Bacteroides melaninogenicus, B. fragilis, and Veillonella alcalescens are the only known strains that produce vitamin K.14 
  • Vitamin B12 is produced by specific strains belonging to the Klebsiella and Pseudomonas genera.15
  • Some strains of Actinobacteria, Bacillus, Bacteroides, Burkholderia, Clostridium, Firmicutes, Fusobacteria, Proteobacteria, and Pseudomonas help metabolize tryptophan. Increased levels of tryptophan allow you to better adapt to stress.16

Knowing which gut microbiomes are imbalanced give you the chance to correct them.

How A Gut Microbiome Test Can Help

Microbiome tests can help you identify strains you lack or have too much of. They can educate you about these strains and how they affect your health.

Many gut testing companies also provide actionable steps with your test results. You may get food suggestions and lifestyle changes to correct your imbalance.

Each person’s flora is unique depending on their diet, lifestyle, and current health. So it’s important that you get personalized recommendations based on your gut microbiome data.

3. Promote Female Reproductive Health

Gut bacteria can travel from your anus to the vagina and influence its flora. In a study of 132 pregnant women, researchers identified the same bacterial species in 36% of the participants.5 

Diet and lifestyle can also affect your vaginal microbiome.16 Certain strains may rise and fall depending on the foods you eat and how much sleep you get — among other factors.

When there is gut imbalance, harmful bacteria can travel from the rectum and proliferate in your vagina. Imbalances in the vaginal microbiome may also cause pathogens like fungi to take over. 

Both can increase your risk for genital infections. These include vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis (BV), and vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). 

In pregnant women, these infections may lead to spontaneous premature birth.5

A woman’s microbiome changes throughout her lifetime, however. It can happen as you undergo pregnancy and hormonal changes, or if your immune system isn’t at its prime.17

Beneficial microbes like Lactobacilli crispatus naturally decrease in number during menstruation. Harmful ones such as L. iners, Apotobium vaginae, and Gardnerella vaginalis increase.5,17

How A Gut Microbiome Test Can Help

The best gut health companies provide personalized probiotics and synbiotics, which combine probiotics with prebiotics. These supplements are designed to target specific imbalances.

Early research suggests that certain probiotics and combination strains may benefit women. A probiotic supplement can increase vaginal lactobacilli in women with:17

  • Balanced and healthy microbiome levels
  • Bacterial vaginosis and/or candidiasis
  • Altered microbiomes due to antibiotics and/or antifungal treatment

Gut tests may offer customized supplements with your gut report. You can purchase them separately after receiving your test results.

What’s more — you can continue using gut testing kits while taking probiotics. This will help you assess whether or not your treatment is improving your microbiome health.

Why Women Should Take A Gut Health Test

Microbiome testing measures your gut bacteria. It also provides insights that will allow you to improve your levels from your own home.

Your gut report will include:

  • Recipes and food recommendations
  • Healthy lifestyle changes
  • Personalized probiotics
  • Preformulated gut supplements

While this is true for everyone, these tips can help women promote their reproductive health. It can increase the good bacteria in your vagina and prevent infections caused by imbalances. 

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Resources

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  1. The gut microbiome in health and in disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  2. The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  3. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health.” The BMJ.
  4. Effects of Gut Microbes on Nutrient Absorption and Energy Regulation.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  5. Female Gut and Genital Tract Microbiota-Induced Crosstalk and Differential Effects of Short-Chain Fatty Acids on Immune Sequelae.” Frontiers In Immunology.
  6. Can gut bacteria improve your health?” Harvard Health Publishing.
  7. What is the Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition? A Changing Ecosystem across Age, Environment, Diet, and Diseases.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  8. The ‘skinny’ on gut microbes and your health.” The Jackson Laboratory.
  9. The Microbiome.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 
  10. The Influence of Probiotics on the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes Ratio in the Treatment of Obesity and Inflammatory Bowel disease.” Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. 
  11. Bacteroides: the Good, the Bad, and the Nitty-Gritty.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  12. Unhealthy Lifestyle and Gut Dysbiosis: A Better Understanding of the Effects of Poor Diet and Nicotine on the Intestinal Microbiome.” Frontiers in Endocrinology. 
  13. A specific strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus may relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance.” European Society of Neurogastroentology and Motility. 
  14. Vitamin K Compounds in Bacteria That Are Obligate Anaerobes.” PubMed.
  15. Intestinal Bacteria as a Vitamin B12 Source.” Vegan Health.
  16. Tryptophan Metabolism by Gut Microbiome and Gut-Brain-Axis: An in silico Analysis.” Frontiers in Neuroscience.
  17. Healthy Vaginal Microbiota and Influence of Probiotics Across the Female Life Span.” Frontiers in Microbiology.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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