To evaluate whether the use of "breathable" panty liners (BPLs) alters the normal vaginal flora, increases the incidence of bacterial vaginosis and/or vaginal candidiasis, or causes vulvar irritation.
A randomized controlled trial assessed the vaginal ecosystem of women without complaints of vaginal discharge. The study group (n=53) wore BPLs for 10-12 hours each day for 75 consecutive days, whereas the control group (n=54) wore only their usual underwear. At each of 6 visits during 3 menstrual cycles, participants underwent gynecologic examination with colposcopic evaluation and pH measurement, in addition to assessment of vaginal microbial flora, intensity of inflammatory processes, and presence of vaginal candidiasis/bacterial vaginosis in Gram-stained smears.
After 75 consecutive days of BPL use, 40/44 (90.9%) and 42/44 (95.5%) women reported no complaints of vaginal discharge or vulvar itching/burning, respectively. There was no significant difference between the study group and the control group with regard to positive vaginal fungus cultures (5/44 [11.4%] vs 8/50 [16.0%]; P=0.7848) or bacterial vaginosis (3/44 [6.8%] vs 2/50 [4.0%]; P=0.7974) at the end of the study period.
After 75 days of BPL use, there was no significant increase in vulvovaginal candidiasis, bacterial vaginosis, vulvovaginal irritation, or vulvovaginal inflammation.