Gynecologic health and disease in relation to the microbiome of the female reproductive tract

Our understanding of the reproductive tract microbiome continues to evolve with the increased use of molecular-based organism identification. The microbial diversity within and between women may have previously been underestimated.


Katherine A. Green, M.D., Shvetha M. Zarek, M.D., William H. Catherino, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 104, Issue 6, Pages 1351-1357


It is well established that the vagina is colonized by bacteria that serve important roles in homeostasis. Imbalances in the proportion of bacteria may lead to a predisposition to infection or reproductive complications. Molecular-based approaches demonstrated a greater degree of microbial diversity both within and between women than previously recognized. The vaginal microbiome may fluctuate during various states of health, such as during the menstrual cycle or after menopause, and there may be differences in the vaginal microbiome between women of different ethnicities. Furthermore, the specific composition of the vaginal microbiome may influence the predisposition to dysbiosis and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. An understanding of the diversity of the vaginal microbial environment during states of health is essential for the identification of risk factors for disease and the development of appropriate treatment.

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