Influence of menstruation on the microbiota of healthy women's labia minora as analyzed using a 16S rRNA gene-based clone library method

Jpn J Infect Dis. 2011;64(1):76-80.


The aim of this study was to determine the influence of menstruation on the bacterial population of healthy Japanese women's vulvas, especially the labia minora. Labia minora swabs were obtained from 10 premenopausal, nonpregnant Japanese women at premenstruation and on day 2 of menstruation. Vaginal swabs were also obtained from 3 out of the 10 women. No significant difference was found in the average bacterial cell count between the menstruation and premenstruation samples. Molecular analysis using a 16S rRNA gene-based clone library method detected 22 genera from the labia minora swabs (total 20), with the genus Lactobacillus being predominant at both premenstruation and during menstruation in 7 out of the 10 women. Of the other 3 women, 2 showed various kinds of bacterial species, including oral and fecal bacteria, with Atopobium vaginae and Gardnerella vaginalis predominating in the remaining woman's vulva in both conditions. In total, 6 out of 10 cases (60%) showed significantly different microbiota of the labia minora between the two conditions. These results imply that menstruation may promote a distortion of the bacterial flora around the vulva, although it causes no significant increase of the bacterial count.

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacteria / isolation & purification
  • Adult
  • Bacterial Load
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods
  • Cloning, Molecular / methods*
  • Female
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / isolation & purification
  • Gene Library*
  • Genes, rRNA / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Menstruation*
  • Metagenome*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Vulva / microbiology*
  • Women's Health


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S