Can we trust symptoms?

Can we trust symptoms?

P.-A. Märdh

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Introduction: It is a common experience among gynaecologists that

there is often a discrepancy between symptoms and signs with regard to diseases

affecting the lower genital tract (LGTI), for example.

Objectives: To correlate symptoms reported by women who had attended

for contraceptive advice and in whom laboratory findings either documented or

could not document presence of a lower genital tract infection with the outcome

of an experimental psychological personality profile survey of these women.

Aims and Methods: One thousand women were studied with an extensive

battery of microbiological tests for bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic

genital infections and for vaginal flora changes such in vulvovaginal

candidiasis and bacterial vaginosis. The participants were asked to react on a

series of pictures with a given number of alternatives to box graded from do not

agree with statement to agree very much. The Sivik’s test, which we used, had

been validated in a large population-based survey.

Results: The women who were infected were, as compared to those who

were microbiologically negative, showed, e.g. a higher proneness to trust other

persons (p=0.04), had a lower ability to feel guilt and shame (p=0.01) and were

less aggressive (p=0.01). The infected women with no symptoms compared to those

infected who could report symptoms showed less proneness to experience anxiety

(p=0.04), had a higher tendency to expect and/or demand anything from other

people (p=0.05).

Conclusions: Symptoms, regarded as indicative of a LGTI, reported by a

woman at history taking are strongly influenced by her personality profile. This

profile may also influence her risking taking in general, including her risk of

contracting exogenous genital infectious agents.

Scroll to Top