Psychological factors associated with recurrent vaginal candidiasis: a preliminary study.
- Psychology and Psychotherapy Services for HIV and GU Medicine, Mortimer Market Centre, Camden & Islington CHS NHS Trust, London.
OBJECTIVE: To identify psychological factors associated with chronic recurrent vaginal candidiasis. DESIGN: A cross sectional exploratory study of women with chronic, recurrent vaginal candidiasis. PATIENTS: 28 women found culture positive and treated for vaginal candidiasis by a clinic physician at least twice within the past 6 months. All women reported that they had experienced vaginal thrush six or more times within 1 year. A comparison group comprised 16 women with no history of recurrent vaginal candidiasis, of similar age range, and recruited from a women's family planning service. METHODS: Both groups were compared on demographic criteria, sexual health histories, mental health, and psychological health characteristics. A purpose designed structured interview was administered alongside a battery of standardised psychometric instruments measuring mood, satisfaction with life, self esteem, and perceived stress. RESULTS: The two groups showed considerable similarities, with no significant differences in demographic characteristics and most sexual health issues. However, women with recurrent vaginal candidiasis were significantly more likely to suffer clinical depression, to be less satisfied with life, to have poorer self esteem, and to perceive their lives as more stressful. Additionally, women with recurrent vaginal candidiasis reported that their candidiasis seriously interfered with their sexual and emotional relationships. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, this study identified many areas of psychological morbidity associated with chronic vaginal candidiasis, and indicates that development of appropriate psychological treatment initiatives in this area is long overdue.