Can gut health impact female fertility? Expert answers

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Many may not be aware that your gut health and fertility are related as gut and vaginal microflora are probably not the first things you think about when you think of conceiving but according to health experts, maybe you should include them in your to-do list. The presence or absence of strains of beneficial bacteria in the female digestive and reproductive tracts has a much greater influence on fertility than most of us may think.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ritu Hinduja, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility in Mumbai, talked about Lactobacillus bacteria and its role in vaginal health and shared, “The profile of the vaginal microbiome differs depending on age, but for most cases of healthy women of reproductive age, Lactobacillus species are the dominant vaginal bacteria. It increases the concentration of estrogen in the vagina. A high estrogen concentration can induce thicker vaginal secretions and a favourable pH level of the vagina both of which are important in providing a favourable environment for the sperm.”

She elaborated, “Generally, a relatively high percentage of seminal Lactobacillus is positively associated with semen quality, which indicates Lactobacillus species may play a probiotic role in the male genital tract. All the above can be maintained by a good supplementation of probiotics.”

Cautioning that both male and female infertility can be caused by a wide array of infections which can lead to inflammation, Dr Ritu Hinduja advised, “This inflammation can be kept in control with a healthy level of Lactobacilli which can be supplemented by probiotics. When we take antibiotics for any kind of infection that leads to the healthy flora getting destroyed.”

As for the tests to identify the balance of good bacteria in your Endometrium, she suggested, “There is also a test, The EMMA, which stands for Endometrial Microbiome Metagenomic Analysis, which can determine the composition of microbial species in the uterus. From the biopsied endometrial tissue, it can help identify the proportions of microorganism species and can flag imbalance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria.”

Dr Ritu Hinduja explained, “A normal healthy endometrial microbiome should consist of more than 90 percent Lactobacillus species. If an EMMA test identifies that more than 10 percent of the uterine microbiome consists of non-lactobacillus species, some doctors may consider a course of antibiotics followed by probiotics. The type of treatment recommended will depend on your specific results, including what species are found and how much of the microbiome they take up. The main goal is to increase the number of lactobacillus bacteria in the uterus.”

Therefore, ensure that there is an ample probiotic in your diet. Ensure to include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, paneer and buttermilk, before and during your fertility treatments.

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