Recurrent Yeast Infections and Vulvodynia: Can We Believe Associations Based on Self-Reported Data?

Bernard L. Harlow, Rachel E. Caron, Samantha E. Parker, Devavani Chatterjea, Matthew P. Fox, Ruby H.N. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: We determined whether self-reported new or recurrent yeast infections were a risk factor for and/or consequence of vulvodynia and then determined the extent to which various levels of misclassification of self-reported yeast infections influenced these results. Materials and Methods: In this case-control study we retrospectively assessed self-reported new and recurrent yeast infections prior and subsequent to first vulvar pain onset among 216 clinically confirmed cases and during a similar time period for 224 general population controls. Results: A history of >10 yeast infections before vulvodynia onset was strongly but imprecisely associated with currently diagnosed vulvodynia after adjustment for age, age at first intercourse, and history of urinary tract infections [adjusted odds ratio = 5.5, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7-17.8]. Likewise, a history of vulvodynia was associated with a twofold risk of subsequent new or recurrent onset of yeast infections after adjustment for age, age at first intercourse, and history of yeast infections before vulvodynia onset (comparable time period among controls, 95% CI 1.5-2.9). Bias analyses showed that our observed associations were an underestimation of the true association when nondifferential misclassification of self-reported yeast infections and certain differential misclassification scenarios were present. However, if women with vulvodynia more frequently misreported having them when they truly did not, our observed associations were an overestimate of the truth. Conclusions: There appears to be a positive relationship between yeast infections preceding and following the diagnosis of vulvodynia, but this relationship varies from strong to nonexistent depending on the relative accuracy of the recalled diagnosis of yeast infections among cases and controls. To better understand the bidirectional associations between yeast infections and vulvodynia, future validation studies are needed to determine the extent to which misclassification of self-reported yeast infections differs between women with and without vulvodynia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1069-1076
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Volume26
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. David Foster from the University of Rochester and Dr. Paul Nyirjesy from Drexel University for their peer review and advice on this article. No fee for this service was incurred. This research was supported by NIH-NICHD R01 HD058608.

Keywords

  • bias analyses
  • case-control studies
  • vulvodynia
  • yeast infections

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