Lactobacilli bacteria in the rectummay lower the risk of vaginal infections,as reported by researchers in the Journalof Infectious Diseases (August 1,2005). The results of the study are the"first to document that the lower gastrointestinaltract can also harbor lactobacilli,which are beneficial for vaginalhealth," said lead investigator Sharon L.Hillier, PhD.
For the study, 531 women had vaginaland rectal swabs taken. The researchersfound lactobacilli in the vagina of 74% of thewomen and in the rectum of 51%. Overall,80% of the participants had evidence of lactobacilliin the vagina or in the vagina andrectum. Amajority of the women (67%) hadlactobacilli that produced hydrogen peroxide.The investigators explained thatwomen missing hydrogen peroxide-producinglactobacilli in the vagina havegreater risk of bacterial vaginosis.
The researchers hypothesized thatrectal lactobacilli may help preserve thehealthy balance of normal vaginal floraand that this, in turn, is linked with alower rate of the adverse effects of bacterialvaginosis. Common forms of rectalhydrogen peroxide-producing lactobacillifound among the women wereLactobacillus crispatus (16%), L jensenii(10%), and L gasseri (10%). An analysisshowed that only 13 (9%) of the 147women with vaginal, or rectal and vaginal,L crispatus or L jensenii had bacterialvaginosis, compared with 12 (44%) ofthe participants with other hydrogen peroxide-producing lactobacilli.