How children’s vaginas differ from adult women’s

When girls are born, their bodies are very high in oestrogen from the mother’s body. High oestrogen means that there are abundant lactobacilli and other beneficial bacteria throughout the baby’s vagina. This high lactobacilli count is because oestrogen stimulates vaginal cells to produce glycogen – food for lactobacilli.

Babies get a good dose of good bacteria from a vaginal birth, as they pass through the vaginal canal. The mucous from the mother is rich in bacteria, and these bugs go into the mouth, nose, ears and eyes of the baby. This is a good start to life, but can also be pretty easily replaced using probiotics for babies on the nipple of a breast or bottle if the baby came out via a C-section, or smooshing healthy vaginal fluids onto a bottle or nipple.

A baby therefore has lots of lactobacilli or other beneficial bacteria in the vagina, but as the baby grows, this oestrogen dissipates and the bacteria counts drop back to almost nothing, due to lowered glycogen levels.

As the child grows, the bacteria stay very low until she hits puberty and the oestrogen starts up again. This production of glycogen in the vagina has a protective effect by encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria that keeps the vagina healthy during reproductive years.

Lack of oestrogen is the primary difference between a girl’s vagina and an adult woman’s vagina. Oestrogen has many effects on the whole vaginal area, including the shape, size and colour of the labia, and fluid production in the vagina.

The hormones that kick in at puberty change the look of the vagina and vulva, when the body kicks into gear for fertility.

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