How recurrent IS and vaginal infections taught me to take care of myself
The first naturopath I worked with taught me the relationship between hormones and vaginal health. She tested my levels of all three types of estrogen, as well as other sex and adrenal hormones (including cortisol) and recommended treatment accordingly. She also put me on a vaginal ring, which contains localized estrogen and has been shown to reduce the frequency of UTIs and lengthen the time between recurrences.
It helped, but my symptoms didn’t completely go away, so she referred me to another doctor who specialized in identifying and treating chronic infections.
From our first consultation, this provider’s instinct was the same as mine mycobiome2— the small, fungal component of the microbiome that interacts with the entire microbiome and affects vaginal health — may have been compromised by all the antibiotics I was taking.
Although vaginal mycobiome testing does not exist (as far as I know), and vaginal mycobiome3 was not fully sequenced, I believe that any state of my mycobiome could have had something to do with the recurrent infections.
Together, we worked to restore core health, support my immune system by strengthening my gut health, and provide my body with herbal antimicrobial support.
Guided by the results of a test called GI-MAP, which sequences all the microorganisms living in your digestive tract, we worked to rebalance my gut microbiome with different species and strains of probiotic bacteria, such as phages and yeasts, including Saccharomyces boulardii.
The botanical preparation helped the most. I took a powerful herbal supplement formulated for UTIs both as a preventative and when I felt a UTI coming on and in my experience it helped keep them away so I didn’t have to take more antibiotics. Among other ingredients, it contained juniper, which contains berberine, a plant alkaloid known for its antimicrobial properties4 and the ability to manage dysbacteriosis (in the intestines and urinary tract).
I ended up taking a two week dose of fluconazole. I haven’t had any more vaginal infections since then.
During my recovery, I checked my vaginal microbiome with Evvy. According to my results, Lactobacillus curlatus5— a protective bacterium for vaginal health — that once dominated me vaginal microbiome5 was compromised. Some research is currently underway to develop live UTI and reproductive health drugs, including vaginally administered. L. crispatus probiotics What is lacking is a more complete understanding of the microbial communities that contribute to vaginal health.