Bacteria can be found pretty much everywhere. In fact, there's about two to six pounds of bacteria in your body right now, according to the National Institutes of Health. While too much bad bacteria in the body can lead to infections, not all bacteria is bad for you. That's especially true when it comes to your vaginal health.
"Bacteria plays a vital role in vaginal health," Dr. Allison Hill,Los Angeles-based OB/GYN and Florajen chief medical correspondent, tells Bustle. "The predominant organism in the genital tract is Lactobacillus. This bacteria is crucial for maintaining vaginal pH balance and for creating a protective barrier against 'bad' bacteria."
Balance is key here. Both good and bad bacteria is needed in order to be considered healthy. As Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OB/GYN and Poise expert, tells Bustle, "It’s not a matter of good vs. bad, it’s any bacteria that's overgrown." According to Shepherd, the vagina has a very delicate pH balance. So when there's any type of bacteria overgrowth, you're more likely to experience issues such as yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Symptoms include abnormally strong odors, changes in discharge, and irritations.
Being aware of what's going on in your body and what it needs to stay healthy can help you make changes. So here are some things doctors want you to know about good and bad vaginal bacteria.