IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The vaginitis monologues: women's experiences of vaginal complaints in a primary care setting


  • Karasz, Alison
  • Anderson, Matthew


Vaginal complaints are a common presenting problem in primary care settings. A disease model has dominated current research and treatment paradigms, with little attention to the illness or experiential dimensions of vaginal complaints. In this paper, we report data from a qualitative study of the experiences of women diagnosed with vaginitis. In semi-structured interviews with 44 women in New York City, United States, we investigated women's interpretations and explanations of their illness, their accounts of its impact on their lives, their experiences with treatment, and the role of vaginal symptoms in communicating distress and anger. We found that women's explanations of vaginal complaints differed strikingly from the current medical model described in the literature on vaginitis. Vaginal symptoms often occasioned extreme anxiety; their impact on social and sexual functioning could be severe. Finally, vaginal symptoms often functioned to express distress and gender conflict. These findings have important implications for the management of the disorder.

Suggested Citation

  • Karasz, Alison & Anderson, Matthew, 2003. "The vaginitis monologues: women's experiences of vaginal complaints in a primary care setting," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 1013-1021, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:5:p:1013-1021

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:5:p:1013-1021. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.