Gut and vaginal microbiomes on steroids: implications for women's health

Madeline E. Graham, William G. Herbert, Stephanie D. Song, Harshini N. Raman, Jade E. Zhu, Paulina E. Gonzalez, Marina R.S. Walther-António, Marc J. Tetel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This review discusses the interactions of steroids with the gut and vaginal microbiomes within each life phase of adult women and the implications for women's health. Each phase of a woman's life is characterized by distinct hormonal states which drive overall physiology of both host and commensal microbes. These host–microbiome interactions underlie disease pathology in disorders that affect women across their lifetime, including bacterial vaginosis, gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), anxiety, depression, and obesity. Although many associations between host health and microbiome composition are well defined, the mechanistic role of the microbiome in women's health outcomes is largely unknown. This review addresses potential mechanisms by which the microbiota influences women's health and highlights gaps in current knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-565
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • estrogens
  • gut microbiome
  • menopause
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • pregnancy
  • progestins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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