Genital candidosis in heterosexual couples

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2011 Feb;25(2):145-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2010.03721.x. Epub 2010 Jun 9.


Background: Evidence suggests that Candida can be sexually transmitted; however, the contribution of sexual transmission to the pathogenesis of genital candidosis needs further elucidation.

Objective: The aim was to evaluate genital candidosis and its transmissibility in heterosexual couples.

Methods: Heterosexual couples were recruited among attendees of an Sexually Transmitted Diseases clinic. Specimens for yeast culture were collected from the glans penis and inner preputial layer using direct impression on CHROMagar Candida medium; vaginal exudates were collected using a cotton swab with subsequent inoculation on CHROMagar Candida medium. Mitochondrial DNA restriction analysis was performed to compare Candida isolates from both partners.

Results: A total of 64 couples were enrolled in the study. Frequency of sexual intercourse was significantly higher in couples where both partners yielded positive cultures and with at least one having genital candidosis (Odds ratios: 6.844; 95% CI 1.408-33.266). The same Candida species was found in both partners in 25% (16/64) of all couples but only 17.2% (11/64) were genetically similar. In total 12 of the 34 women suffering from vulvovaginal candidosis (VVC) had recurrent VVC (RVVC); two sexual partners of RVVC women (16.7%) had candida positive cultures, compared with 15 (68.2%) sexual partners of non RVVC women (Odds ratios: 0.093; 95% CI 0.016-0.544).

Conclusions: Only in a few heterosexual couples a genetic similarity of Candida species recovered from both partners was found. RVVC women were more likely to have an asymptomatic candida negative sexual partner. This study suggests that male genitalia do not represent a relevant reservoir for RVVC; thus, the relevance of sexual transmission should not be emphasized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Candida / genetics
  • Candida / isolation & purification
  • Candidiasis, Cutaneous / epidemiology*
  • Candidiasis, Cutaneous / genetics
  • Candidiasis, Cutaneous / transmission*
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / epidemiology*
  • Genital Diseases, Female / genetics
  • Genital Diseases, Male / epidemiology*
  • Genital Diseases, Male / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Heterosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penis / microbiology
  • Portugal
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Vulva / microbiology