Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (thrush) is a debilitating, long-term condition that can severely affect the life quality of affected women. According to a research review by University of Manchester scientists published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, worldwide about 138 million women are affected annually by this condition.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis infection is caused by the overgrowth of the fungus Candida causing itching, irritation, discharge, soreness and damage to the skin. For many women, it is a taboo subject. It is a risk associated with menopausal women aged 55 and over, and women taking hormone replacement therapy and antibiotics.
Riina Rautemaa-Richardson, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK, and colleagues conducted the study to determine the estimates of the global prevalence or lifetime incidence of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis.
“With a global annual prevalence of 3871 per 100 000 women; 372 million women are affected by recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis over their lifetime. The 25–34 year age group has the highest prevalence,” report the authors.
And the incidence of recurrent thrush is set to rise to an estimated 158 million people by 2030 resulting in 20 240 664 extra cases, warns Dr. Rautemaa-Richardson.
For this systematic review, the researchers searched PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science databases for population-based studies published between 1985 and 2016 that reported on the prevalence of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, defined as four or more episodes of the infection every year.
The team identified 489 unique articles, of which eight were included, consisting of 17 365 patients from 11 countries.
Chinese, Indian and American women are the world’s most numerous sufferers of thrush at 29.1 million and 23.6 million and 9 million respectively.
Dr. Rautemaa-Richardson said: “Recurrent vulvovaginal thrush is common, debilitating and complex.
“Myths, unnecessary worry, and stigma are associated with it as medical professionals struggle to understand it.
“Though Thrush is treatable, it often reoccurs and there are often additional causes for the symptoms which all need to be addressed. Antifungal treatment is often only part of the solution. Thrush is often thought of as an embarrassing problem woman should accept, rather than a medical problem which needs to be dealt with.”
She added: “For many, thrush is treatable, and patients are able to regain their quality of life. But much work needs to be done to educate both healthcare professionals and patients about the best way to do that.”
“The high prevalence, substantial morbidity, and economic losses of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis require better solutions and improved quality of care for affected women,” concluded the authors.
For more information log on to https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30103-8