BMC Womens Health 2019 03 29;19(1):48. Epub 2019 Mar 29.
Center of Excellence in Oral and Craniofacial Biology, School of Dentistry, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, USA.
Background: Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is a common infection affecting women worldwide. Reports of patterns/risk factors/trends for episodic/recurrent VVC (RVVC) are largely outdated. The purpose of this study was to obtain current patient perspectives of several aspects of VVC/RVVC.
Methods: Business cards containing on-line survey information were distributed to healthy volunteers and patients seeking standard, elective, or referral gynecologic care in university-affiliated Obstetrics/Gynecology clinics. The internet-based questionnaire was completed by 284 non-pregnant women (78% Caucasian, 14% African American, 8% Asian).
Results: The majority of the participants (78%) indicated a history of VVC with 34% defined as having RVVC. The most common signs/symptoms experienced were itching, burning and redness with similar ranking of symptoms among VVC and RVVC patients. Among risk factors, antibiotic use ranked highest followed by intercourse, humid weather and use of feminine hygiene products. A high number of respondents noted 'no known cause' (idiopathic episodes) that was surprisingly similar among women with a history of either VVC or RVVC. VVC/RVVC episodes reported were primarily physician-diagnosed (73%) with the remainder mostly reporting self-diagnosis and treating with over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Most physician-diagnosed attacks utilized a combination of pelvic examination and laboratory tests followed by prescribed antifungals. Physician-treated cases achieved a higher level of symptom relief (84%) compared to those who self-medicated (57%). The majority of women with RVVC (71%) required continual or long-term antifungal medication as maintenance therapy to control symptoms.
Conclusions: Current patient perspectives closely reflect historically documented estimates of VVC/RVVC prevalence and trends regarding symptomatology, disease management and post-treatment outcomes.