You'll be the first to know when we launch our vaginal microbiome test. In the meantime, stay tuned for more from us on how we can build the future of women's health — together.
Every day, your vagina performs the equivalent of modern health miracles.
It can fight off infections, defend against cancers, and protect a pregnancy. And the quality of its defense is determined by the composition of your vaginal microbiome — a complex ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and more.
Given that the vagina is the structural connection between the outside world and some of our most important reproductive organs, the local microbiome has evolved to serve as a critical layer of protection against pathogens entering our bodies.
While there is a variety of bacteria and fungi that can exist in the vagina, Lactobacillus are the local heroes. Lactobacilli ensure that the vaginal environment is inhospitable for potential pathogens in a variety of ways:
1) Producing lactic acid that helps keep the pH low and healthy (ideally between 3.8 and 4.5)
2) Taking up space on the vaginal wall, preventing other pathogens from being able to thrive
3) Producing bacteriocins, which further inhibit pathogens
4) Keeping inflammation down in the genital tract.
When this environment is in an optimal state, it can do amazing things. A balanced vaginal microbiome can lower your risk for:
Yes! The viruses, fungi, and bacteria that cause vaginal infections are all part of your microbiome. When your microbiome is imbalanced, it creates opportunity for these bad microbes to thrive.
If you’re one of the ~30% of people with vaginas that will get BV this year, that means your vaginal microbiome has a wide variety of bacteria (called dysbiosis) instead of a Lactobacillus bacteria playing the main role in creating that all-important lactic acid environment.
On top of that, 84% of BV cases are asymptomatic, meaning that you might not even know if your vaginal microbiome is imbalanced — but you might still be at risk for infection or other complications.
Dysbiosis of the vaginal microbiome can catalyze other types of infections as well, such as aerobic vaginitis, yeast infections, cytolytic vaginosis (CV), UTIs, all of which can have frustrating (and confusingly similar) side effects, such as itchiness, abnormal discharge, and burning.
One important thing to note: research shows that dysbiosis is more prevalent in Black and Hispanic women, but there is a disappointing lack of research explaining why that is or how we can change it. More broadly, it’s incredibly frustrating that research on this topic has not been more highly prioritized in medicine overall, given the prevalence of vaginal dysbiosis and its impact on our quality of life.
We know, we know — we could talk about this for hours. But let us point out a few more things — the current methods for treating vaginal infections are as archaic as diagnosing them.
Antibiotics and antifungals are widely used treatments which have high rates of success in the short term. However, in the long term, they’re not as great of a solution as you might think.
While antibiotics and antifungals kill off the bad bacteria, they also kill off the good ones, rendering the vagina defenseless and highly susceptible to reinfection. In fact, vaginal infections have some of the highest rates of reinfection, with 80% of BV patients having a reinfection within 3 months and 60-70% of patients taking long term yeast infection treatment having a recurrence within 6 months afterwards.
There have been almost no advancements to improve cure rates for vaginal infections for decades. There is a pressing need for better, more sustainable solutions — and demystifying the microbiome to patients, doctors, and researchers can drastically improve treatment options in this space.
Microbiome research is a relatively new field, and lots of resources have been invested in understanding other human microbiomes like the one in your gut or on your skin. But when it comes to your vagina, the microbiome has been overlooked.
We wish the reason why wasn’t yet another gender gap… but that’s why we’re here! Evvy exists to use cutting-edge research techniques to elevate the vaginal microbiome to its rightful place in research and clinical care, all while providing you with critical insights into your health.
Well — that’s the other reason why we exist.
Evvy’s first product willbe the only at-home test that leverages metagenomic sequencing, an advanced form of next-gen sequencing that analyzes the entire genome. This allows us to pick up on all bacteria present at an extremely specific level.
In addition, Evvy won't just return a table of numbers. Evvy results come with actionable recommendations and curated insights on how your vaginal microbiome is related to your holistic health — customized to you based on your specific microbes, symptoms, and experiences.
Here’s the thing about vaginas: they’re pretty great at taking care of themselves. They’re self-cleaning and normally self-protecting, as long as the vaginal microbiome is in balance.
However, many of the things we enjoy — sex and sugar, for example — are good at throwing off this balance.
Plus our bodies naturally change over time, and trying new birth control, medications, sexual partners, period products, and more can add chaos to this balancing act.
There are some all-around great things you can do to take care of your vaginal microbiome — and we’re pretty sure you’ve heard them before: Drink water, never douche, wear cotton underwear, pee after sex, cut down on sugar, change out of wet swimsuits as soon as you can, the list goes on.
But surprise! Not all vaginas are the same. What works for you might not work for your sister or your friend. So the best way to care for your unique microbiome is to first understand what your microbiome looks like (what bacteria are present) and whether or not it is optimally balanced (psst...that’s what we made the Evvy vaginal microbiome test for!)
And when you do intervene (try a new probiotic, change your diet, etc.), Evvy will take the guesswork out of figuring out which solution is working for you. By retesting, you can see how changes you’re making in your diet, life, and supplements are impacting your vaginal microbiome’s defense.