Elucidating the factors that impinge on the stability of bacterial communities in the vagina may help in predicting the risk of diseases that affect women's health. Here, we describe the temporal dynamics of the composition of vaginal bacterial communities in 32 reproductive-age women over a 16-week period. The analysis revealed the dynamics of five major classes of bacterial communities and showed that some communities change markedly over short time periods, whereas others are relatively stable. Modeling community stability using new quantitative measures indicates that deviation from stability correlates with time in the menstrual cycle, bacterial community composition, and sexual activity. The women studied are healthy; thus, it appears that neither variation in community composition per se nor higher levels of observed diversity (co-dominance) are necessarily indicative of dysbiosis.
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