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Delving into Feminine Wellness: Redefining Intimate Care with the Vulvar Microbiome


Vulvar Microbiome

While our understanding of the microbial composition of the vulva is still evolving, it holds the potential to maintain overall genital health. Investigating how feminine hygiene products affect the vulvar microbiome is crucial for understanding and improving women's health and intimate care practices. 


What We Know:


  • The vulvar microbiome displays significant diversity both within individuals and among different women, with current research having found no single species universally present (Graziottin, 2024)


  • While opinions vary among professionals regarding the necessity of feminine care products, in instances where they are deemed beneficial, certain ingredients can offer greater advantages to the vulvar microbiome than others.


  • Thymol, a component of thyme oil, has gained attention in feminine hygiene products for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, effectively maintaining the beneficial microbiota. It inhibits the growth of pathogenic microbes like Candida albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis, while also possessing anti-inflammatory properties (Braga et al., 2008).

 

  • The inclusion of lactic acid in feminine hygiene products helps to support the vulvar microbiome by maintaining an acidic pH (Graziottin, 2024). 


  • To manage odours, feminine washes may contain ketoglutaric acid, which is an antioxidant. These properties have the potential to oxidise amines linked to malodor, thereby providing anti-odour benefits (Graziottin, 2024). 


Industry Impact & Potential:


  • Researchers have developed a cleansing wash containing thymol and an acidic pH, along with glycerin, ketoglutaric acid, and lactic acid, which has shown promise in reducing pH levels and discomfort in pregnant and postpartum women with vulvar and vaginal issues. Compared to alternative lactic acid-based washes, it better preserves skin hydration (Murina et al., 2020).


  • Despite advancements like this, the market remains underexplored, offering opportunities for the exploration and development of microbiome-friendly products in the realm of feminine hygiene.


Our Solution:


In addition to vulvar microbiome analysis, we at Sequential provide services for assessing skin, scalp and oral microbiomes, and have established our company as a leader in facilitating the development of microbiome-friendly products. Our team of experts is well-equipped to support your company in formulating innovative products suitable for maintaining and improving the vulvar microbiome to support women’s health.


Reference List:


Braga, P.C., Culici, M., Alfieri, M. & Dal Sasso, M. (2008) Thymol inhibits Candida albicans biofilm formation and mature biofilm. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. 31 (5), 472–477. doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2007.12.013.


Graziottin, A. (2024) Maintaining vulvar, vaginal and perineal health: Clinical considerations. Women’s Health (London, England). 20, 17455057231223716. doi:10.1177/17455057231223716.


Murina, F., Caimi, C., Felice, R., Di Francesco, S. & Cetin, I. (2020) Characterization of female intimate hygiene practices and vulvar health: A randomized double-blind controlled trial. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 19 (10), 2721–2726. doi:10.1111/jocd.13402.

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