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Gardnerella and Ureaplasma Implicated in Preterm Births

Microorganisms in our bodies

Since you were little, you were told that microbes are bad and make you sick. Your parents told you to wash your hands, to cover your mouth when you sneeze, and not to eat food from the ground. All these measures and many more that are now part of our everyday behaviour are meant to prevent microbes from getting into our system. 

It is true that many diseases are caused by germs, such as bacteria and viruses. However, it is a myth that all bacteria cause diseases. As a matter of fact, right now there are millions of microorganisms in your very body, just hanging out there, doing no harm; or even, helping your organs function. In example, some of the bacteria that live inside your intestines help you digest your food. 

As you can see, not all bacteria are a threat for your health. Some are always pathogens, while others can harm your health only if they are thrown out of balance. In other words, the population of bacteria inside of us - known as the "bacterial flora" - is healthy as long as each species of microbe is present in the right proportion. Some conditions are caused because a certain population of bacteria grows out of control, is insufficient, or spreads out to a part of our bodies where it shouldn't be.

Gardnerella and Ureplasma

Gardnerella Vaginalis, Ureplasma Urealyticum and Ureplasma Parvum are types of bacteria that can be found in the vagina. Ureplasma can be present in our bodies at a low concentration without causing any symptoms. However, all these microbes are known to cause sexual health problems in women.

Gardnerella is the most common cause of vaginitis, a condition caused when the natural bacterial flora of the vagina is thrown out of balance. Gardnerella can be sexually transmitted, but it has been found in women with no history of unprotected sex, so other forms of transmission are under research. Vaginitis is an infection of female genitalia with odorous discharges and can be treated with antibiotics. Click here for more information on Gardnerella.

Ureplasma is linked to urethritis and other genitourinary complications. An infection with Ureplasma can also be treated with antibiotics, so testing for Ureaplasma bacteria online or in a health clinic is usually enough to get proper treatment. Symptoms associated with Ureplasma infections are a burning sensation when urinating, and unusual discharges.

Premature births and vaginal flora

A new research links vaginal flora patterns with increased risk of premature births. As you can read in the following link, this was published by Stanford Medical Center recently and opens a very promising door for decreasing the risk of preterm births - the main cause of newborn deaths. 

The idea of vaginal flora patterns influencing preterm deliveries isn't new, as some older research on bacteria and preterm births showed that these two factors were related. Now, this new research seems to confirm this idea. 

Around 50 pregnang women were tested, providing samples of their bacterial populations on a weekly basis dufing pregnancy, and then monthly in the following year after they gave birth. 15 of these women gave birth prematurely - 3 weeks or longer before the birth date - so the researches could compare the results of preterm and term deliveries.

What researches found is that women have one of 5 bacterial patterns in their vaginas, which don't change during pregnancy. This was particularly intriguing because when a woman is pregnang, many aspects of her body change, phisiologically and anatomically. However, the bacterial flora remained the same during pregnancy, but it changed after the delivery.

Researchers identified one of the five patterns in bacterial vagina that was strongly linked to premature births. This particular pattern had a higher diversity of bacteria, with high concentrations of Gardnerella and Ureplasma and low concentrations of Lactobacillus, the later of which is characteristic of healthy women. Also, bacterial flora tended to turn into this fifth pattern after delivery, which could help explain why a pregnancy is more likely to end up in a preterm delivery when it is closely spaced to the prior pregnancy.

The results of this study are very important because they help understand one proved cause of increased risk for both premature deliveries and newborn deaths. The researches hipothesize that this risk can be decreased with a special treatment with antibiotics that help change the bacterial flora of the vagina, in case that the risky micriobiological pattern is present. The applicaton if this therapy should be further tested, for right now all we have is the mere idea, but if this treatment proves effective, we will have tackled one major factor in both preterm deliveries and newborn death. 

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