Bare Versus Hair: Do Pubic Hair Grooming Preferences Dictate the Urogenital Microbiome?

Julia Geynisman-Tan*, Kimberly Kenton, Meera Tavathia, Alyson Yee, Jack A. Gilbert, Sarah Collins, Christina Lewicky-Gaupp, Margaret Mueller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective The aim of the study was to determine whether the genitourinary microbiome differs between and within women with and without pubic hair. Methods Premenopausal women who self-identified into 2 groups were recruited: in the "hair"group, women did not remove any pubic hair, and in the "bare"group, all pubic hair was removed routinely. Participants submitted a vaginal swab, a voided urine sample, and a catheterized urine sample, and then "crossed over."The "hair"group removed all hair for 1 month, and the "bare"group grew hair for 2 months. After crossover, participants again submitted a vaginal swab, a voided urine sample, and a catheterized urine sample. Ten participants acted as controls. DNA was extracted, and the V4 region of 16S rRNA gene was amplified and sequenced using the MiSeq platform. Paired-end sequences were imported into QIIME2-2018.6. Alpha diversity (the number and proportion of species in an individual sample) and beta diversity (differences in microbial composition between samples) were evaluated. Results Forty-two participants were analyzed: 16 "bare to hair"crossovers, 16 "hair-to-bare"crossovers, and 10 controls. The microbiome varied by sample type: vaginal swabs had the lowest alpha diversity and catheterized urine had the highest (P < 0.001). At baseline, there were no differences in the alpha or beta diversity of urine or vaginal microbiomes between groups. Vaginal beta diversity at visit 2 was greater within crossovers than controls (P = 0.004), suggesting that altering hair status alters the microbiome composition. Urinary beta diversity was not different at visit 2 (P = 0.40). Conclusions Pubic hair status does not determine one's baseline genitourinary microbiome, but women who change their hair status may alter their vaginal microbiome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-537
Number of pages6
JournalFemale Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
Volume27
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • grooming
  • microbiome
  • pubic hair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology

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