Frequency and response to vaginal symptoms among white and African American women: results of a random digit dialing survey

J Womens Health. 1998 Nov;7(9):1167-74. doi: 10.1089/jwh.1998.7.1167.


The prevalence of vaginal symptoms and response to those symptoms in a nonclinic setting has not been previously described. Two thousand women living throughout the United States identified by random digit dialing completed a computer-assisted telephone interview about history of vaginal symptoms and use of healthcare services in response to these symptoms. The analysis was limited to 1698 white (WA) and 144 African American (AA) women (n = 1842). An episode of vaginal symptoms of any severity during 1995 was reported by 7.5% of WA women and 18.1% of AA women. Fifty-five percent of WA women and 83% of AA women with symptoms consulted a healthcare professional about their most recent episode. The racial difference in prevalence and consultation was not explained by marital status, education, employment, or lifetime number of sex partners. Most women purchased an over-the-counter antifungal preparation to treat their symptoms, whether or not a physician was consulted. The racial differences in prevalence and use of health services in response to vaginal symptoms observed here should be confirmed, and the potential causes should be explored.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaginal Diseases / ethnology*
  • Vaginal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Vaginal Diseases / psychology
  • Whites / psychology*
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data*


  • Nonprescription Drugs