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Effect of commercial vaginal products on the growth of uropathogenic and commensal vaginal bacteria

Hung KJ1,2Hudson PL1,3Bergerat A3Hesham H1,3Choksi N3Mitchell C4.

Sci Rep. 2020 May 6;10(1):7625. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-63652-x.



Half of postmenopausal women experience genitourinary syndrome of menopause, for which many use lubricating vaginal products. The effect of vaginal products on uropathogenic and commensal vaginal bacteria is poorly understood. We evaluated the effect of five common vaginal products (KY Jelly, Replens Silky Smooth lubricant, coconut oil, Replens Long-Lasting moisturizer or Trimo-San) on growth and viability of Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus crispatus. Bacteria were co-cultured products alone and in the presence of both vaginal epithelial cells and selected products. Bacterial growth was compared between conditions using an unpaired t-test or ANOVA, as appropriate. All products except for coconut oil significantly inhibited growth of laboratory and clinical strains of Escherichia coli (p < 0.02). Only two products (Replens Long-Lasting moisturizer and Trimo-San) significantly inhibited growth of Lactobacillus crispatus (p < 0.01), while the product Replens Silky Smooth stimulated growth (p < 0.01). Co-culture of selected products in the presence of vaginal epithelial cells eliminated the inhibitory effects of the products on E. coli.

In conclusion, in vitro exposure to vaginal moisturizing and lubricating products inhibited growth of Escherichia coli, though the inhibition was mitigated by the presence of vaginal epithelial cells. Lactobacillus crispatus demonstrated less growth inhibition than Escherichia coli.