The first cornerstones towards microbiome-friendly underwear. 01/11/2021 - 31/10/2025


The urogenital microbiome is a crucial microbiome for human health and reproduction. Lifestyle and hygiene practices are suggested to have a strong influence on the urogenital microbiome. For instance, humans are the only animals that wear clothes, and certain underwear fabrics have been correlated with higher risk of urogenital disease. However, the causal relationship between urogenital health and underwear fabrics is underexplored, especially regarding how underwear could influence the urogenital microbiome. In this project, we first aim to correlate the use of specific underwear fabrics with vaginal health and microbiome, exploring the dataset generated by the host lab from more than 3300 Isala study participants. In parallel, a microbiological in vitro platform will be designed for the evaluation of microbiome-friendly characteristics of (underwear) fabrics through the use of defined microbial communities. Subsequently, a key part of the project will consist of a large-scale study that will explore in vivo interactions between specific underwear fabrics, the vaginal, vulvar and skin microbiome and urogenital health. The ultimate application aim is to better understand how underwear fabrics can affect female health, and implement microbiome-friendly underwear through future collaborations between the academic, health and textile sectors.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project