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BMJ Open


Introduction The effect of testosterone (T) therapy on the vaginal microbiota of transgender men (TGM) is not well characterised, although one cross-sectional study comparing the vaginal microbiota of cisgender women to TGM on T≥1 year found that, in 71% of the TGM, the vaginal microbiota was less likely to be Lactobacillus-dominated and more likely to be enriched with >30 other bacterial species, many associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV). This prospective study aims to investigate changes in the composition of the vaginal microbiota over time in TGM who retain their natal genitalia (ie, vagina) and initiate T. In addition, we will identify changes in the vaginal microbiota preceding incident BV (iBV) in this cohort while investigating behavioural factors, along with hormonal shifts, which may be associated with iBV. Methods and analysis T-naïve TGM who have not undergone gender-affirming genital surgery with normal baseline vaginal microbiota (ie, no Amsel criteria, normal Nugent Score with no Gardnerella vaginalis morphotypes) will self-collect daily vaginal specimens for 7 days prior to initiating T and for 90 days thereafter. These specimens will be used for vaginal Gram stain, 16S rRNA gene sequencing and shotgun metagenomic sequencing to characterise shifts in the vaginal microbiota over time, including development of iBV. Participants will complete daily diaries on douching, menses and behavioural factors including sexual activity during the study. Ethics and dissemination This protocol is approved through the single Institutional Review Board mechanism by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. External relying sites are the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans Human Research Protection Program and the Indiana University Human Research Protection Program. Study findings will be presented at scientific conferences and peer-reviewed journals as well as shared with community advisory boards at participating gender health clinics and community-based organisations servicing transgender people. Registration details Protocol # IRB-300008073.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License