With Isala we found 66 women in whom this bacterium was dominant in their vagina. That is about 2% of all participants.
What does this bacterium look like?
It is a rod-shaped bacterium with a thick cell wall, which often looks branched. It has a bit of a Y shape. This bacterium is usually not much larger than 1 micrometer. And that is small, because 1000 micrometers fit in one millimeter.
What does science already know about this bacterium?
Quite a lot. This bacterium is very common in your gut and we know that it is important for a healthy gut flora. That is why you can often find these live bacteria in probiotics. Take a closer look at a commercial for the well-known Activia yogurt, for example. 🙂
There are many different species of Bifidobacterium. We have already found the species Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium breve and Bifidobacterium longum in the vagina. Activia contains Bifidobacterium animalis.
The genome size of this bacterium ranges from 1.7 to 3.3 million base pairs. They have an average of around 2300 genes and can therefore produce many different proteins.
What is this bacterium doing in my vagina?
This bacterium produces lactic acid such as the lactobacilli, but also many other acids. In this way, Bifidobacterium can ensure a low acidity and protect your vagina against infections or pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
Bifidobacterium is mainly found in your intestines and we know that these bacteria play a crucial role in your gut’s health. Science has already discoverd that besides producing various acids, they also produce healthy fatty acids and vitamin B. Sometimes, they are found in the vagina, as for you. Investigating the exact function and activity of these bacteria in the vagina is on our list for further research!
Does this bacterium occur elsewhere?
Yes, this is perhaps one of the best-known beneficial bacteria by the general public thanks to all the probiotics, yogurt and drinks with ‘Active Bifidus’. Also nice to know: the bacteria in the gut of a newborn baby consists of 90% Bifidobacterium. Together with the Isala team, we now want to find out, for example, whether the Bifidobacteria in the vagina might already be ready to give babies a good start. After all, we already know that during a vaginal birth, a lot of bacteria are passed on from a mother to her baby during delivery.