Isala wants to break the taboo around vaginal health. That’s why all our research kits contain great conversation starters  (also online available). Use these cards as inspiration for interesting chats with friends and family, and find out how much there is to say about vaginal health.

You can also start a conversation online by clicking on a question and adding your response. You can do it anonymously – your first name is fine. The Isala researchers will answer your question. This way, we can increase knowledge about the female microbiome and break the taboo together. That’s our dream at Isala. Feel free to add comments and ask questions – let’s start the conversation together! 

Orange The World: stop violence against women now!

Today we reflect on the fact that almost 1 in 3 women has been a victim of abuse in her life. It is the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’. We also start today with 16 days of activism, concluding on December 10th, 2021 – the day on which the International Day of Human Rights is commemorated. All over the world, iconic buildings and venues turn orange to advocate for a nonviolent future. Be sure to look out for these orange lights and remember the meaning!

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Starting the sisterhood on vaginal health: now in Peru

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog about vaginal microbiomes and ethnicity. As a Isala team member, born and raised in Peru, I am now super excited that, thanks to the global minds starting grant, we could now extend Isala to Perú, where “Isala” becomes “Laura”, named after Esther Rodriguez Dulanto (1872-1919), the first female physician in Perú.

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Isala, the sequel: longer & more than just vaginal microbiome

In recent months, with the help of a robot and six job students, we have extracted all the microbial DNA from the vaginal swabs of more than 3300 women, you, our so precious Isala participants. Then — after what we can only call a marathon lab work session – we read out the pieces of genetic code of the bacteria with a ‘sequencing’ device. For example, with the help of bioinformatics, we have used these codes to identify bacteria and discover the microbial composition of your vagina! Thanks to the extensive questionnaire you have completed, we can link that data to information about your health, lifestyle, eating habits, partners, etc. Also, plenty of new lactobacilli and other good bacteria are grown from the other swab (pink), which means that our biobank now almost contains 2000 novel isolates.

There was one important aspect that we hadn’t considered yet: the dynamics of the vaginal microbiome.

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Underwear as a promising source of information in sexual assault cases?

No means no

Great news! Besides the first, large-scale results showing the hard work of the Isala project, the daughter project GeneDoe has not stagnated.  As a master student in the biomedical sciences, I got the opportunity for the last year to work on this forensics project under the supervision of prof. Sarah Lebeer, prof Ronny Decorte and Sarah Ahannach. And so, take the first steps in research for microbiome analysis as additional evidence in sexual assault cases.

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Can the  microbiome aid research into sexual assault?

Neen is neen

Almost 13 rape reports per day were registered in Belgium in 2019. Jups, you read that right, more than a dozen !! Or simply 4,664 rapes in just 1 year! Even worse, this is just the tip of the iceberg. As experts agree, we are dealing with a so-called dark number. This means that the number of reports is only 10% of the total number of actual incidents. And suppose you think it is something far from your own life. You must know that according to the international human rights organization Amnesty in Belgium, 1 in 5 women have been raped. That makes me silent for a moment…

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