By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN
A collaborative team of scientists from China, Norway and Denmark has discovered that the entire female reproductive tract contains a microbiome that is populated by a community of probiotic bacteria that is far more diverse than previously thought.
In their paper, which was recently published in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists report the results of collecting samples from several parts of the reproductive tracts of 110 volunteer women. Samples of bacteria were collected from one or more parts of their reproductive tracts from the vagina to the fallopian tubes. Some of the samples were obtained during routine office visits, others during previously scheduled laparoscopy procedures.
Using new genetic sequencing technology, the scientists were able to report that different strains of bacteria inhabit different areas of the female reproductive tract. They also discovered that the microbial community changed on an individual basis depending on where the women were in their menstrual cycle.
Another interesting discovery contradicts the long-held belief that babies are contained in a sterile environment while developing inside the uterus. The scientists learned that the placenta is not sterile, but instead, also contains a community of bacteria.
In their conclusion, the authors of the study state the following, “The study provides insight into the nature of the vagino-uterine microbiome, and suggests that surveying the vaginal or cervical microbiota might be useful for detection of common diseases in the upper reproductive tract.
Chen C. The microbiota continuum along the female reproductive tract and its relation to uterine-related diseases. Nature Communications. Published online October 17, 2017: