Are unexplained vaginal symptoms associated with psychosocial distress? A pilot investigation

Andreas Cohrssen, Uzma Aslam, Allison Karasz, Matthew A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Aim: Vaginal complaints cannot be definitively diagnosed in approximately one-third of women. We sought to determine if women without a diagnosis had higher levels of psychiatric disorders. Methods: This was an observational study in an urban family practice clinic. Prior to seeing a clinician, women with vaginal complaints completed the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ); symptoms were measured by the Vaginal Complaints Scale (VCS). Patients were then examined and treated by a family physician. At one and two weeks' time patients were contacted by phone regarding symptom resolution and clinical outcomes. Results: We enrolled 47 patients; one patient was excluded. A diagnosis was made in 36. Eighteen had bacterial vaginosis, 16 had candida, three trichomonas, two HSV, one chlamydia; there were eight dual diagnoses. PHQ diagnoses were slightly less common in women without an identified cause for their symptoms. We obtained follow-up data from 45 subjects at one week and 34 subjects at two weeks' time. At two weeks' follow-up, 97% of subjects had complete resolution or improvement of their symptoms. Symptom improvement was equivalent among women with a diagnosis and those without. We estimate 180 subjects would be needed to detect a clinically meaningful difference in PHQ diagnoses. Discussion: Our pilot study did not find an association between psychiatric diagnoses made by the PHQ and unexplained vaginal symptoms. Nearly all patients experienced rapid resolution of symptoms irrespective of whether a diagnosis had been made or not. These findings are limited primarily by the small sample size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-154
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Primary Health Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Psychosocial stress
  • Symptom resolution
  • Vaginitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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