Causes of chronic vaginitis: analysis of a prospective database of affected women

Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Nov;108(5):1185-91. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000239103.67452.1a.


Objective: To compare women with different chronic vaginal symptoms with a wide variety of sociodemographic, health, behavioral, and psychosocial characteristics.

Methods: Serially recruited subjects answered a questionnaire that asks about demographic information and symptoms and measures depression and stress scores. Patients underwent a standardized history, physical examination, and laboratory examination. Patients with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, desquamative inflammatory vaginitis, physiologic leukorrhea, and other diagnoses were compared with one another. Chi-square tests and one-way analysis of variance with Tukey honestly significant difference (HSD) post hoc analyses were used for categorical and continuous data analysis.

Results: Two hundred patients were enrolled in this study. The most common diagnoses were contact dermatitis (21%), recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (20.5%), atrophic vaginitis (14.5%), and vulvar vestibulitis syndrome (12.5%); 18% of women had 2 or more diagnoses. In the overall study sample, the mean age was 38.4 years, 78% were white, and 55% were college educated. Sixty-two percent had symptoms for over a year. Desquamative inflammatory vaginitis patients were older and less likely to be menstruating. Those with vulvar vestibulitis syndrome had more frequent complaints of dyspareunia. Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis patients felt that their symptoms had the greatest negative impact on work and social life. There were high rates of psychiatric disorder (43.5%), atopic disease (42.5%), and pain syndrome (56%) in all groups.

Conclusion: Women with chronic vaginal symptoms have a variety of diagnoses, most of them noninfectious.

Level of evidence: II-3.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vaginitis / complications
  • Vaginitis / epidemiology*
  • Vaginitis / etiology*