HomeHealth ConditionsThe Evvy Vaginal Microbiome Test Helps You Understand Your Bacteria *Down There*—So...

The Evvy Vaginal Microbiome Test Helps You Understand Your Bacteria *Down There*—So I Tried It

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If current buzz across the lack of information of the clitoris is any instance of how surprisingly little the scientific and medical communities prioritize studying concerning the feminine physique—then we all know there’s nonetheless far more room for progress. Each have traditionally left ladies behind for a lot of causes. Working example, the gender analysis hole that nonetheless exists and continues to hurt ladies—only one instance being how we deal with and perceive vaginal well being points.

“Girls weren’t required to be in scientific analysis till 1993,” says Priyanka Jain, who co-founded Evvy, a femtech startup, in 2021with Laine Bruzek. “And that lack of knowledge leads us to the state of at the moment that ladies are on common identified 4 years later than males throughout over 700 illnesses.”

It’s due to shortcomings resembling these that Bruzek and Jain determined to start out Evvy, which presents a vaginal microbiome check that makes use of particular metagenomic sequencing (utilizing DNA samples) to detect particular kinds of micro organism within the vagina.

So why a vaginal microbiome check particularly? In line with Jain, there are numerous biomarkers that solely exist in feminine our bodies that are likely to get ignored by the medical and scientific communities. So Jain and Bruzek thought-about which of them weren’t being checked out—however had loads of potential to enhance healthcare outcomes for ladies. “As we have been exploring the place to start out, we truthfully could not escape the vaginal microbiome,” Jain says.

Despite the fact that scientists have know of the significance of the vaginal microbiome for 20 years or so, a lot of the analysis was targeted on how the biome pertains to childbirth, in line with gynecologist Suzanne Fenske, MD who’s the founding father of TaraMD, an revolutionary gynecology follow in New York Metropolis. However the implications of vaginal microbiome lengthen far past childbirth. A compromised or irregular vaginal microbiome is linked to gynecologic points together with an elevated danger of vaginal infections resembling yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV), sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and preterm labor in line with Dr. Fenske.

As a well being author, I’ve all the time identified concerning the intestine microbiome, and I discovered it so attention-grabbing and useful to study how my very own was doing by having it examined previously. So after studying about Evvy, I used to be curious to find what I may study my vaginal microbiome, too. Specifically, I needed to know what may doubtlessly change or disrupt it over time. I used to be additionally curious to study if contraception may have an effect on my microbiome since hormonal contraceptives have been proven to alter the vaginal microbiome in some research and I’d began a brand new kind six months in the past.

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Here is how the check works: Evvy is an-at residence check equipment (a single check is $129, or a membership is $99 per check shipped each three months). You ship your pattern (a vaginal swab) to a lab for processing. Every step alongside the best way, Evvy sends you an e mail letting you recognize the place your pattern is and when you’ll be able to anticipate your outcomes—it takes about two weeks.

Within the report, you get an in depth take a look at what sorts of micro organism are current in your vaginal microbiome (each good and dangerous) with detailed info on what that might imply in your well being. You additionally get a personalized motion plan with way of life suggestions (like information on how utilizing condoms can lower down your danger of yeast infections) and subsequent steps to enhance your signs (or stop future points). Every Evvy check features a name with a well being coach who may help stroll you thru your check outcomes and motion plan or reply any questions you might have.

What making an attempt the Evvy vaginal microbiome check is like

After I bought my Evvy check equipment within the mail, I discovered all the pieces was labeled clearly, and it was simple to gather my pattern. I did have to attend to take it, although, since I occurred to have my interval when the check arrived, and the directions say you’ll be able to’t check in case you’re menstruating, had intercourse previously 24 hours, used any form of vaginal lotions or suppositories, or in case you’ve used antibiotics within the final seven days, BTW.

Within the meantime, I activated my check on-line and stuffed out an in depth questionnaire that asks you to report details about your present signs, well being historical past, and sexual historical past.

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As soon as I activated my check, stuffed out the questionnaire, I collected the pattern to ship to the lab. The check equipment comes with a swab and assortment tube—it would not look all that totally different from a Covid-19 check, TBH. To gather your pattern, you insert the swab into the vagina and circle it for 20 seconds. You then place it within the assortment tube the place it stays sealed. You place that into the return field and drop it within the mail, after which it is shipped off to Evvy’s lab.

The outcomes of my vaginal microbiome check

After about two weeks, I bought my outcomes again in an e mail from Evvy. When you click on into them, you are taken again to the Evvy website the place you’ll be able to see an in depth overview of your outcomes, study your microbiome sort (extra on that later), see traits and insights (that is the place you’ll be able to monitor your outcomes over time in case you proceed to check recurrently), and curated content material and insights primarily based on what you reported in your well being analysis— mine included content material on oral contraceptives and the way the usage of mixed oral contraceptives is linked to a decreased danger of BV and a balanced microbiome.

My outcomes total have been what I anticipated provided that I am not at the moment experiencing numerous signs—it mentioned my microbiome comprises 99 % protecting micro organism, and just one % dangerous micro organism. Evvy additionally studies your microbiome sort, or Group State Kind (CST), classes that researchers have used to group vaginal microbiome sorts. My microbiome sort is 1-A, which analysis exhibits is the most effective sort for stopping vaginal infections. This kind is characterised by having the dominant micro organism Lactobacillus crispatus, which is a protecting micro organism discovered within the vagina.

My well being plan (which Evvy factors out just isn’t a diagnostic plan however a wellness display screen that must be shared together with your physician) contains some tips on what to do subsequent. The primary tip I get is to speak to my doc about additional testing for disruptive micro organism (though I admire the tip, my good micro organism is so excessive and my signs are low that I do not assume it’s a necessity proper now).

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The subsequent tip entails upkeep, the place it is prompt that I take probiotics solely as obligatory (like once I’m on antibiotics for instance) since taking too many probiotics may trigger yeast overgrowth. Whereas I do not take a probiotic day-after-day, I discovered this attention-grabbing since so many individuals do. The report says, “There’s additionally the potential for continued probiotic use to lead to lactobacilli overgrowth (cytolytic vaginosis). Because of this, the proof would level to only letting your microbiome do it is factor!”

That is accompanied by two analysis articles on the topic and Evvy calls out that this rec relies on evolving analysis, so it is stable however nonetheless evolving. I additionally ran the check by Dr. Fenske, asking her opinion on the check technique and outcomes. Her take? “I believe it may very well be a really great tool for understanding the basis reason behind recurrent vaginal infections and, presumably, etiologies [causes] of vulvar/vaginal ache,” she says.

General, I walked away studying a ton concerning the vaginal microbiome and the potential that extra analysis on it may possibly have on large well being points like figuring out extra about issues that many ladies expertise however lack solutions to—like persistent BV, painful intercourse, and vulvodynia (persistent, unexplained ache across the vagina or vulva).

Personally, I am going to proceed monitoring my microbiome and check once more if I’ve signs or perhaps a few occasions a 12 months simply to see how issues are doing.

Why figuring out extra concerning the vaginal microbiome has large implications for closing the well being hole for individuals with vaginas

Talking of extra analysis, Evvy is utilizing the information from the check (which is de-identified earlier than it is used for analysis) to associate with researchers and well being specialists within the scientific neighborhood to fill within the gaps on vaginal well being, enhance analysis, and assist the medical neighborhood perceive extra concerning the feminine physique.

As of 2022, Evvy has created the largest information set that anybody has on the vaginal microbiome. And this dataset is a launching level the founders hope is the beginning of progress for closing the gender well being divide. “For us to really allow higher care outcomes throughout the board, we first want to start out with all of that higher analysis,” Jain says. “And we’re actually hoping to assist pioneer that so that everybody experiencing care—via Evvy or wherever—can entry significantly better care from their physicians.”

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