Cervicovaginal microbiota, women's health, and reproductive outcomes
We discuss how the composition and function of the vaginal microbiota will impact reproductive health management.
Volume 110, Issue 3, Pages 327–336
Samuel J. Kroon, Ph.D., Jacques Ravel, B.Sc., Wilhelmina M. Huston, Ph.D.
The human microbiome project has shown a remarkable diversity of microbial ecology within the human body. The vaginal microbiota is unique in that in many women it is most often dominated by Lactobacillus species. However, in some women it lacks Lactobacillus spp. and is comprised of a wide array of strict and facultative anaerobes, a state that broadly correlates with increased risk for infection, disease, and poor reproductive and obstetric outcomes. Interestingly, the level of protection against infection can also vary by species and strains of Lactobacillus, and some species although dominant are not always optimal. This factors into the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and possibly influences the occurrence of resultant adverse reproductive outcomes such as tubal factor infertility. The composition and function of the vaginal microbiota appear to play an important role in pregnancy and fertility treatment outcomes and future research in this field will shed further translational mechanistic understanding onto the interplay of the vaginal microbiota with women's health and reproduction.