With Isala, we found 187 women in whom this bacterium was dominant in their vagina. That is about 6% of all participants.
What does this bacterium look like?
This bacterium looks like a small rod of 1.5 micrometres and has a thin cell wall. That’s small when you recall that there are 1000 micrometres in one millimetre.
What does science already know about this bacterium?
This bacterium does not tolerate oxygen well and is therefore difficult to cultivate in the lab. That is why science does not yet know this bacterium very well and a lot of research is still needed. We do know that there are different types of Prevotella bacteria that all behave a little differently. The Prevotella species of the gut are already much better studied than those of the vagina. Prevotella bivia and Prevotella timonensisis seem to be the most common species in the vagina.
This bacterium has an average genome of 2.4 million base pairs with more than 2000 genes. This means that this bacterium can produce about 2000 different proteins.
What is this bacterium doing in my vagina?
We would like to tell you honestly that the dominance of this bacterium is not the best news. Prevotella is sometimes linked to the development of chronic inflammation or irritation in your vagina. This bacterium can disrupt the acidity in your vagina, making you more susceptible to infection or inflammation. Prevotella seems to make little to no lactic acid.
But don’t panic. Not all types of Prevotella have these less ideal traits. Unfortunately, the technique used at Isala does not currently allow us to find out which Prevotella species is in your vagina: a favourable or less favourable one.
Very often we find this bacterium together with different types of lactobacilli. Those lactobacilli can help keep Prevotella in check. And as we’ve explained, your vaginal microbiome is somewhat dynamic. It could well be that the dominance of the Prevotella has already disappeared. The most important advice we can give you always remains the same: do you experience complaints or are you worried about something? Then contact your doctor. Within Isala we even have a separate page with more background information especially for doctors, so you can certainly refer to that.
What is this bacterium doing in my mouth?
Prevotella is part of the normal flora in the mouth. However, some specific species such as Prevotella oralis are mainly found when you have inflammation in the mouth.
What is this bacterium doing on my skin?
Prevotella are found not only in the vagina but also in low numbers in your saliva. On your skin this bacterium does not normally occur, it is often too dry there and Prevotella does not like oxygen. Yet we have found this bacterium in skin swabs at Isala. This makes sense, because the skin around your mouth often comes into contact with saliva and the skin in your groin area with vaginal fluid.
Does this bacterium occur elsewhere?
Yes, Prevotella is very common in saliva and your oral cavity and different types of this bacteria were also found in the large Flemish intestinal research.