STIs and bacterial infection in teenage girls are the result of gender inequalities

10 January 2022

A study assessing the impact of menstrual cups and the role of a vaginal microbiome in mitigating rates of bacterial vaginosis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), found about 10% of secondary school girls had STIs and 11% bacterial vaginosis.

In western Kenya’s Siaya county, there are significant gender inequities and stigmas around menstruation. It is common for girls to have sex to obtain necessities such as sanitary products. Girls aged 15 to 19 carry a disproportionate share of STIs and other reproductive system infections.

Researchers found that an optimal vaginal microbiome, which can help prevent infections, was most likely among girls who did not report sexual activity.

Older girls, girls who used cloth to manage their menses, and those who were sexually active were most likely to have a non-optimal vaginal microbiome. The results were published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.

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