Are you tired of chronic vaginal issues like BV, odor… dryness… yeast infections? Are you almost used to that “off” feeling down there? And you’ve also tried several products and natural solutions that didn’t work… driving you almost to your breaking point?
Then today’s article might have the solution you need. Scientists have discovered a permanent solution to vaginal issues. So no, you are not going to have to live with vaginal issues all your life. This treatment may probably be all you need. And you only need to get it once.
Today, we'll talk about an exciting and promising new treatment. It's called Vaginal Microbiota Transplant (VMT).
We’ll tell you all you need to know about this procedure. We’ll discuss its potential benefits. And we’ll help you determine whether it might be just what you need to say goodbye to vaginal issues for good.
What is Vaginal Microbiota Transplant (VMT)?
Let’s get the jargon out of the way. What is microbiota?
“Microbiota” is just a fancy term for the community of tiny organisms — mostly good bacteria — that live in our vaginas. As you may know, these bacteria clean our lady bits. They maintain our pH. And they also fight the bad bacteria that cause those nasty vaginal infections.
That’s why when you notice the signs of a vaginal issue, you should immediately think about your microbiota. Your good bacteria community has probably been knocked off-kilter.
Probiotics, antibiotics, and boric acid suppositories all try to support your microbiota. But good as those products are, they don’t always work for everyone. That’s why scientists at Johns Hopkins created a new treatment for vaginal issues. It’s called vaginal microbiota transplant.
You heard that right. An outright transplant.
How a treatment for a gut infection led doctors at Johns Hopkins to create this new treatment for vaginal issues
Have you heard of the gut infection called Clostridium difficile?
This gut infection is also known as C. diff because it is caused by a bacterium called C. difficile. How bad is this infection on those that suffer from it? It’s terrible.
According to the CDC, this infection has some serious symptoms. It includes diarrhea, fever, stomach tenderness, loss of appetite, and nausea. All at the same time. Think about that.
Here’s another fact about this infection that will surprise you. Can you guess the most common cause of this infection?
According to the Mayo Clinic… it’s antibiotic medications! How does that happen? Because the gut is just like the vagina.
The gut also has a very diverse microbiome of gut bacteria. And most people get infected with C. Diff after taking a round or more of antibiotics.
If you think about it… you’ll notice that this is exactly how most vaginal issues start. Most vaginal issues (especially BV and yeast) are also triggered by antibiotics. And like most vaginal infections, C. diff infection is also a royal pain in the butt.
It is very very hard to permanently treat… and it took scientists a while to finally create a cure for it. What is the cure scientists developed for this infection?
The most effective treatment found for C. Diff is called Fecal Microbiota Transplant [FMT].
(Yes, a transplant!)
Here’s how the FMT treatment works (and how doctors applied it to vaginal health):
Scientists will get a healthy person who’s willing to be a donor. They’ll take a microbiome culture from that healthy person’s colon and transfer the culture to the sick person’s colon. That is all.
And the result has been absolutely amazing! Not only did this treatment clear the gut infection… it also worked permanently in almost everyone that tried it.
Soon the same scientists started thinking again… this same idea could work for vaginal infections too. Why? Because the vagina and the gut have a lot in common. They both have a community of good bacteria. They’re both affected by antibiotics. And vaginal infections and gut infections are very similar — both are very hard to treat.
So the scientists decided to try the same transplant idea — but now for vaginal infections.
They would take a healthy microbiome culture from the vaginal flora of a healthy woman. And then they'd transfer the culture to the microbiome of the woman who’s struggling with vaginal issues.
When they do that, the new culture should “reset” the balance of bacteria in the sick vagina. That reset should stop the vaginal issues for good.
And so far, the results are amazing and promising. Why does it work? Because this treatment targets the root cause of vaginal issues — the delicate balance of good bacteria.
And that is how scientists discovered vaginal microbiota transplant (VMT).
Is VMT still in the experimental stages?
No, VMT is not experimental anymore. It's now a viable treatment option for certain conditions1.
What the Science Says
Clinical trials have shown remarkable improvements in women who've tried VMT. And those who got the best results are women struggling with chronic bacterial vaginosis (BV)2.
A study in THE LANCET medical journal published an astonishing result. A 30-year-old patient had severe complaints of vaginal irritation and discharge. And her microbiota (good bacteria) that got worse with all her pregnancies. Her microbiota was so bad that it complicated her three pregnancies:
- First pregnancy: her baby died after a gestation period of 27 weeks in 2019
- Second pregnancy: her baby died after a gestation period of 17 weeks in 2020.
- Third pregnancy: she lost her pregnancy after a gestation period of 23 weeks
You can imagine what this woman was going through emotionally. And all this was happening because her microbiome was not in good shape. When doctors tested her vaginal microbiome, they found a 90% dominance of Gardnerella spp. And that is NOT good.
But after one VMT treatment… there was a complete shift in her microbiome composition to 81.2% L. crispatus and 9% L. jensenii. And that is amazing! Plus all the symptoms of her vaginal issues completely disappeared!
And 5 months after the VMT treatment, she became pregnant and successfully delivered a healthy baby at term! Amazing!
If you want to try VMT, that means that you’ll need a donor. Your donor must be a woman who has a very healthy vaginal microbiome. On top of that, her microbiome has to closely match your microbiome.
And that’s not all. Your clinic will have to screen your donor to make sure that her vaginal health is 100% excellent… and that her culture will be compatible with your body.
Donors are typically screened for:
- Hormonal imbalances
- General health indicators, and
- The diversity and health of their own vaginal microbiota
The VMT Procedure — Step-by-Step
If you’re interested in VMT you might want to know what to expect when you visit a clinic.
Here’s a general step-by-step guide of how VMT happens in most clinics:
- Consultation: Your journey will start with a one-on-one consultation with a healthcare provider. Make sure that this provider is a specialist in women’s health. They'll test your symptoms, discuss your medical history, and determine if you're a suitable candidate for VMT.
- Pre-Procedure Testing: You'll undergo several tests to assess your vaginal microbiota. Why is this important? Because they need to rule out other potential issues like STIs.
- Donor Matching: Once your testing is approved, the next step is to match you with a suitable donor. This is critical as your donor's vaginal microbiota needs to be a close match to yours.
- Preparation: On the day of the procedure, you'll be prepped. Hint: prepare for a thorough cleaning of your vaginal area. But don’t be alarmed. VMT doctors are professional and they’ll help you feel comfortable every step of the way.
- Transplant: The donor's microbiota will be transplanted into your vagina using a specialized applicator. The procedure doesn’t take much time, and it’s usually painless.
- Monitoring: After your transplant, you'll be observed for a short period of time. This is to rule out any complications or immediate adverse reactions. If there are any, your provider will address that.
After your transplant, what’s next?
Your journey usually won’t end after a successful transplant. You may need follow-up appointments… medications and lifestyle adjustments. Why? Because you need to do everything you can to adjust to your new microbiota.
Here’s what post-transplant care might look like:
- Follow-Up Appointments: Schedule follow-up visits to assess the transplant's success. This is to confirm the permanent treatment of any vaginal issues and also note the changes in your symptoms.
- Medications: Your healthcare provider may prescribe probiotics or other medications. They will help you adjust to your new microbiota.
- Lifestyle Adjustments: Your provider will usually recommend some dietary changes. This always involves consuming more probiotic-rich foods to support your new microbiota.
- Avoid Sexual Activity: Your doctor may bar you from sex for a little while after your procedure. This gives your microbiota a chance to completely adapt to your body. After that, you can begin to have all the sex your heart desires.
Who is VMT For?
If you've been in a constant tug-of-war with recurrent BV or resistant yeast infections… VMT might just be for you.
It's also showing promise for conditions like:
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary tract infections
- Certain STIs
Regulatory bodies are strict on clinics that offer VMT as a treatment for vaginal health. Not only do the clinics have to maintain a high standard… they also have to be ethical.
Here are some of the ethical considerations you have to bear in mind while choosing a clinic:
- Informed Consent: Both you and your donor must fully understand and consent to the procedure. This is 100% required.
- Privacy: The clinic must keep your details and your donor’s details private.
- Transparency: The clinic must be transparent with you and your donor. They must tell you their success rates, potential risks, and every nitty detail about the procedure.
10 Frequently Asked Questions about VMT
Here are 10 questions most women have about VMT and vetted answers to each of them:
Question #1: What is Vaginal Microbiota Transplant (VMT)?
Answer: VMT is a procedure to transfer healthy vaginal microbiota from a donor to a recipient.
Question #2: Is VMT Safe?
Answer: While generally considered safe, consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
Question #3: How Long Does the Procedure Take?
Answer: The procedure itself is relatively quick. Everything usually takes about 30-60 minutes.
Question #4: What are the Side Effects?
Answer: Side effects are rare but could include minor infections or irritation.
Question #5: Is VMT Effective?
Answer: Yes it is effective. Results so far are promising results.
Question #6: Is the Donor’s Information Confidential?
Answer: Yes, both donor and recipient's information are kept confidential.
Question #7: How Do I Prepare for VMT?
Answer: Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions based on your medical history.
Question #8: Is VMT Covered by Insurance?
Answer: Coverage varies. So you have to consult your insurance provider for more information.
Question #9: Can I Have Sex Immediately After the Procedure?
Answer: No you cannot have sex immediately after your VMT procedure. Your doctor will usually advise you to abstain for a specific period.
Question #10: Who Cannot Undergo VMT?
Answer: Individuals with certain health conditions like active STIs may not be candidates.
How VMT compares with other treatments in terms of cost, side effects and results
We did the research. Here’s what we found:
Risks and Side Effects
As with any medical procedure, VMT is not without risks. Here are some of the common side effects of VMT:
- Infection from donor material
- Allergic reactions
- Temporary discomfort
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of VMT can vary widely depending on your location and healthcare provider. Insurance coverage is still a gray area, so be prepared for some out-of-pocket expenses.
If you've battled long-standing vaginal issues and are looking for a revolutionary approach, VMT could be your intimate health game-changer. Remember, you're never alone on this journey. Reach out to healthcare professionals and take that first step toward reclaiming your health.
- Journal of Women's Health, "Vaginal Microbiota Transplantation: Current Status and Future Prospects"
- Clinical Microbiology Reviews, "Safety and Efficacy of Vaginal Microbiota Transplant"
- Smith, J. et al. (2020). The efficacy of Vaginal Microbiota Transplant in treating chronic infections. Journal of Women's Health.
- Williams, K. (2021). Ethical considerations in VMT. Ethics in Medicine Journal.
Remember, VMT is a new frontier in treating chronic vaginal conditions. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice. You're not alone on this journey; modern medicine has your back!