Current patient perspectives of vulvovaginal candidiasis: incidence, symptoms, management and post-treatment outcomes

BMC Womens Health. 2019 Mar 29;19(1):48. doi: 10.1186/s12905-019-0748-8.


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 Reports of patterns/risk factors/trends for episodic/recurrent VVC (RVVC) are largely outdated.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.

Keywords: Candida albicans; Disease management; Epidemiology; Incidence rates; RVVC; Risk factors; Symptomatology; VVC; Vaginitis; Vulvovaginal candidiasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / drug therapy*
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / epidemiology*
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antifungal Agents