Results from this study can help increase understanding of the estimated incidence and lifetime prevalence of VVC in the US.
A study in BMC Women’s Health aimed to assess the number of women who have had VVC in the past year, the amount of VVC episodes in the past year, and the lifetime prevalence of VVC.1 Currently, it’s estimated that 75% of women will experience VVC in their lifetime and 5-10% will experience recurrent episodes.
In the fall of 2020, Porter Novelli—a public relations firm—conducted an online survey consisting of 4 questions about healthcare provider diagnosed VVC frequency and treatment. The survey was sent to 4548 people ages 18 and older with 3625 completing the survey. Survey participants were randomly recruited.
Researchers conducted multivariate analyses to assess demographic data and health-related factors associated with having VVC in the past year, number of VVC episodes in the past year, and lifetime prevalence of VVC. They used SAS to conduct their analyses.
Out of a total of 1869 women, 5.2% (n=98) reported having a health care provider diagnose them with VVC in the past year and of these, 4.7% (n=5) had recurrent VVC. More than half of the women (53%, n=991) reported having a health care provider diagnose them with VVC in their lifetime. Seventy-two percent of the women with VVC reported using prescription antifungal treatment, and 40% reported using over-the-counter antifungal treatment.
The likelihood of having VVC in the past year was highest for women with less than a high school education (aOR = 6.30, CI: 1.84-21.65) followed by those who completed some college (aOR = 2.62, CI: 1.21, 5.67). The odds were also higher in women with a child or children under 18 years old (aOR = 3.14, CI: 1.58-6.25), women with diabetes (aOR = 2.93, CI: 1.32-6.47), women who were part of a couple (aOR = 2.86, CI: 1.42-5.78), and women with a higher number of health care provider visits (aOR = 2.72, CI: 1.58-4.01). There were no significant differences in having VVC or the number of VVC episodes with regards to age, race, ethnicity, or metropolitan vs. non-metropolitan status. However, lifetime prevalence of VVC increased with age (aOR = 1.12, CI: 1.07-1.17).
Results from this study suggest that about 6.8 million women experience VVC and 325,000 women experience recurrent VVC each year, resulting in $374 million in related medical costs. The overall representation of demographics was the major strength of the study. The primary limitation was the self-reported nature of the data and not capturing the experiences of non-English speakers.
Overall, results from this survey can help contribute to an increased understanding of the estimated incidence and lifetime prevalence of VVC in the US. Increased attention to accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment is also warranted. The results further support known clinical risk factors for VVC, underscoring the importance of targeting healthcare providers regarding VVC prevention, recognition, and treatment.