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

2 Scopus citations

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

  • Urology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Surgery

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