Objective: To estimate the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis, Candida albicans, and Trichomonas vaginalis infections in a population of postmenopausal women with symptoms of vaginitis seen at a vaginitis clinic either as self-referred or clinician referred patients.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of 148 postmenopausal women (cases) and 1564 controls of reproductive age attending a vaginitis clinic. C. albicans and T. vaginalis infections were diagnosed by culture techniques. Bacterial vaginosis was diagnosed on the basis of clinical findings.
Results: Fifty-six (37.8%) postmenopausal women and 834 (53.3%) controls were diagnosed with T. vaginalis or C. albicans infection, or bacterial vaginosis, or mixed infection (odds ratio (OR) 0.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.37-0.75). C. albicans and T. vaginalis infection were diagnosed in 34.1% (534/1564) and 1.92% (30/1564) of women of childbearing age and in 13.5% (20/148) and 10.8% of postmenopausal women, respectively. (P < 0.05 for both comparisons). The prevalence of bacterial vaginosis was similar between the two groups (14/148 in postmenopausal patients and 210/1564 in controls of reproductive age; P = 0.22).
Conclusions: Among postmenopausal women attending a vaginitis clinic, a defined diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis, C. albicans or T. vaginalis infection can be made in about one third of such patients. Concerning the two thirds of symptomatic women lacking such a microbiologic diagnosis, alternative causes (e.g., estrogen deficiency, nonanaerobic bacterial infections, local irritants or allergenes, and dermatologic conditions) need to be considered.