Objective: To assess the prevalence of genital bacterial infection among women with vulvar vestibulitis syndrome and to evaluate the association of several potential risk factors with the occurrence of the syndrome.
Methods: Fifty-seven women referred for dyspareunia who satisfied Friedrich's criteria and had symptoms for at least 6 months were recruited as cases. Controls included 173 patients without dyspareunia seen at a private clinic. Cases and controls were aged 18-35 years and were not pregnant.
Results: Among cases, the prevalences were low for genital infection with gonorrhea (0%), Chlamydia (0%), Trichomonas (0%), Mycoplasma (0%), Gardnerella (14%), and Candida (8.8%). Ureaplasma was detected in the Bartholin glands of ten affected women (17.5%). Human papillomavirus DNA was detected in only three cases (5.3%) based on polymerase chain reaction assays on vestibular biopsies. The relative risk (RR) of the syndrome was related to some aspects of sexual and reproductive history. In particular, the RR in women who had used oral contraceptives (OCs) early (before age 17) reached 11.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-97.1) relative to those who had never used OCs. Women who had first intercourse at age 15 or earlier had a 3.3-fold increase in RR (95% CI 1.4-8.0) compared to those who had first intercourse at age 16 or later.
Conclusion: Our data provide little support for the idea that infection causes the vulvar vestibulitis syndrome. Hormonal factors such as early OC use may be involved in the etiology of this condition.