Vulvovaginal candidiasis: Epidemiology, microbiology and risk factors

Crit Rev Microbiol. 2016 Nov;42(6):905-27. doi: 10.3109/1040841X.2015.1091805. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is an infection caused by Candida species that affects millions of women every year. Although Candida albicans is the main cause of VVC, the identification of non-Candida albicans Candida (NCAC) species, especially Candida glabrata, as the cause of this infection, appears to be increasing. The development of VVC is usually attributed to the disturbance of the balance between Candida vaginal colonization and host environment by physiological or nonphysiological changes. Several host-related and behavioral risk factors have been proposed as predisposing factors for VVC. Host-related factors include pregnancy, hormone replacement, uncontrolled diabetes, immunosuppression, antibiotics, glucocorticoids use and genetic predispositions. Behavioral risk factors include use of oral contraceptives, intrauterine device, spermicides and condoms and some habits of hygiene, clothing and sexual practices. Despite a growing list of recognized risk factors, much remains to be elucidated as the role of host versus microorganisms, in inducing VVC and its recurrence. Thus, this review provides information about the current state of knowledge on the risk factors that predispose to VVC, also including a revision of the epidemiology and microbiology of VVC, as well as of Candida virulence factors associated with vaginal pathogenicity.

Keywords: Behavioral factors; Candida species; host factors; vaginal infection; virulence factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Candida / classification
  • Candida / genetics
  • Candida / isolation & purification*
  • Candida / physiology
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / epidemiology
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors