Vaginal Lubricants Associated with Bacterial Vaginosis in African American Women, Research Shows

   Use of vaginal lubricants is associated with disruption of vaginal microbiota in African American, but not Latina, white, or Asian women, according to research reported on at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' 58th Annual Clinical Meeting in San Francisco.

   Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta recruited healthy women (N=409) of reproductive age to participate in a cross-sectional study of vaginal microbiota. (Women reporting vaginal symptoms were excluded.) Vaginal smears and self-reported behavior data were obtained at the initial assessment. The researchers used logical regression analysis to assess the relationship between bacterial vaginosis -- defined as Nugent Gram stain >/= 7, and lubricant use in the previous two months. Vaginal lubricants contain a wide variety of ingredients, including glycerin and chlorhexidine.

   Data on Nugent scores and lubricant use were obtained from 387 subjects. Bacterial vaginosis was observed in 24% (n=97). In uninvariable analysis, lubricant use was not significantly associated with bacterial vaginosis (odds ratio [OR], 1.27; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.69 to 2.34). But a stratum-specific analysis demonstrated that in African American women lubricant use was associated with bacterial vaginosis (OR, 3.25; 95% CI, 1.20 to 8.82, P<0.05). There was no significant relationship regarding Latina, white, or Asian women.

   According to the Emory researchers, "further study should investigate vaginal microbial community composition and their resilience to perturbations by exogenous factors." They are planning a multivariable analysis "to better define the relationship between lubricant use, race, and vaginal microbiota while controlling for other potentially important factors."