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P125 “I googled it…”: what is recommended online for the management of vulvovaginal candidiasis?
  1. Jonathan Shaw,
  2. Orla McQuillan
  1. The Hathersage Integrated Contraception, Sexual Health and HIV Service, Manchester, UK


Background Recently our centre encountered women reporting self-treatment of candidiasis with intravaginal applications of foodstuffs including garlic, vinegar and yoghurt. All patients had a unifying factor of reporting “googling” their therapy.

Aim To establish which candidiasis management strategies female patients are most likely to encounter when searching via Google.

Method Search history data was collated from Google Trends to identify the ten most popular search terms related to candidiasis in the UK between 15/03/15–06/03/16. These terms, along with term “thrush”, were assessed totalling 11 Google searches. All websites on the initial results page for each search term were accessed to review recommended therapies. Click-through data suggests the vast majority of Google users (>90%) select their chosen website from this first results page.

Results 116 search results included 97 (83.6%) advising women about vulvovaginal candidiasis. 96/97 (99%) recommended imidazole therapy first line, all reassuringly advising against oral therapy in pregnancy. Patients were recommended to seek treatment via a pharmacy (72, 74.2%) or their GP (54, 55.7%) rather than attending a genitourinary service (12, 12.2%). The recommendation of natural yoghurt for symptomatic relief was frequent (40, 41.2%), more than using emollients or soap substitutes (27, 27.8%). Unfounded treatments including eating probiotic yoghurts (9, 9.3%), vinegar (8, 8.2%), and treatment of sexual partners (8, 8.2%) were encountered.

Conclusions Sensible evidence-based advice is the most prevalent online for vulvovaginal candidiasis. However a number of poorly evidenced therapies are encouraged. This information should be discussed and appropriately challenged during routine management of vulvovaginal candidiasis.

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