The Microbiome and Fertility

Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews Dr. Jason M. Franasiak, Associate Chair, Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Board Cert. Reproductive Endocrinologist with RMA New Jersey; and Dr. Erin Wolff, former Assistant Clinical Investigator with the National Institute for Health and now Chief Medical Officer at Celmatix.

Hit the Highlights
  • What is the human biome? Microbes: Bacteria, yeast, and what else?
  • We think of the human biome primarily in the gut—the intestines. We also know that the vagina has a biome. What other places in the body do we have a large population of beneficial bacteria?
  • Does the microbiome extend up the reproductive tract or is it only in the vagina?
  • Is an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome called vaginosis?
  • How common is bacterial vaginosis?
  • What are the symptoms of an unbalanced microbiome in the vagina and it is always reaching the level of being diagnosed as bacterial vaginosis?
  • Is what is considered a healthy balance the same for everyone? Does it vary by ethnicity?
  • How does the vaginal biome affect conception with the sperm getting to the egg?
  • How does the biome affect implantation?
  • How does the biome affect the ability to carry a pregnancy to term?
  • Why does a vaginal imbalance result in a significant increase risk of pre-term birth?
  • Are there ramifications to the children who are born to a woman with vaginosis? Chorioamnionitis inflammation during pregnancy.
  • Does the intestinal microbiome affect fertility? Weight is such an important factor in fertility. Is there evidence that a disturbed gut biome will result in obesity?
  • Causes:
    • What causes a disturbance of the healthy vaginal microbiome? Diet, number of sexual partners, stress, antibiotic use, vaginal piercings, douching?
    • Will antibiotics affect the vaginal biome?
    • How can infertility medications affect the vaginal microbiome?
  • How to restore a healthy vaginal biome? How to treat a disturbed vaginal or reproductive tract biome. I would like to address both proactive preventative measures, as well as treatment options once it is out of whack.
  • How to maintain a heathy vaginal microbiome?
    • Impact of vaginal lactobacilli on conception or pregnancy.
    • Probiotics? Pill form vs. administered vaginally vs. naturally occurring in food
    • Do cultures that have a lot of fermented food have a healthier biome?
    • Do you recommend a diet rich in fermentable carbohydrates, or prebiotics? What would this include?
    • What type of diet (food to encourage and foods to avoid) are recommended for establishing a healthy vaginal and gut biome? Avoid refined carbohydrates, limit sugar, excessive alcohol. Pre-biotic foods?
  • Home remedies for vaginosis:
    • Douching with: Hydrogen Peroxide. Yogurt. Apple cider vinegar
    • Taking orally:
      • Tree Tea Oil
      • Garlic
      • Fenugreek
      • Coconut Oil
    • What other treatment options are available to restore a healthy balance? Antibiotic?
  • Any evidence that the gut or reproductive tract biome in males affect fertility?

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Image Credit: UBC Public Affairs

Show re-aired in 2018.