Background: Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is a difficult-to-manage condition that affects 5-8% of women of reproductive age. Current treatment regimes have high relapse rates, resulting in poor quality of life for the women affected.
Aim: To compare the quality and content of current guidelines concerned with recurrent VVC and to develop a summary of recommendations to assist in the management of women with this condition.
Methods: Relevant clinical guidelines were identified through a search of several databases (MEDLINE, SCOPUS and The Cochrane Library) and relevant websites. Five guidelines were identified. Each guideline was assessed for quality using the AGREE II instrument. Guideline recommendations were extracted, compared and contrasted.
Results: The identified guidelines were of mixed quality. This is not related to the level of evidence supporting them but is because of poor stakeholder involvement, applicability and lack of clarity concerning editorial independence. Current international guidelines for recurrent VVC are consistent in terms of their definition of the condition, diagnostic techniques and utilising induction and maintenance therapy as the treatment of choice. However, the regimen suggested by most guidelines (fluconazole weekly for six months) is not particularly effective; only 42.9% of patients are disease free after 12 months. An alternative regimen put forward by one of the guidelines cites a 77% cure rate after 12 months. Most guidelines lacked specific recommendations for the induction part of induction and maintenance treatment.
Conclusion: The current most recommended treatment of recurrent VVC is sub-optimal. Studies performed on a larger scale are required to identify more effective treatments.
Keywords: candidiasis; practice guidelines as topic; recurrence; vaginitis; vulvovaginal.
© 2017 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.