Button: Pride 2020

The Unexpected Way Some Women’s Vaginas Can Prevent STIs

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
With the imagined cries of yeast-infection warrior princess Mary Numair still ringing in our ears, we bring you news of what else your microbiome can do (besides work against the growth of yeast, of course). New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that a certain type of bacteria may actually protect you from contracting sexually transmitted diseases — including HIV. Related: Your Risk of STDs Is WAY Higher Than You Think

Researchers found that women with high levels of the bacteria known as Lactobacillus crispatus in their vaginal mucus were more successful in avoiding infections. In these cases, the barrier of mucus around their vaginas would trap, and then kill, HIV particles upon application. One of the researchers even referred to this barrier as a "biological condom." Sadly, this species of bacteria does not occur in all women. Related: 10 Things To Never Put Near Your Vagina

While there's no way to start producing this bacteria if it isn't already in your body, researchers are already looking into how these findings can contribute to future methods of STI prevention. If there is a potential future where we can all proudly say that our vaginas know self-defense, we'd like to go to there.
Click through to Shape for more advice about maintaining your sexual health. (Shape)