Aspergillus vulvovaginal infections
Egyptian pharaoh tomb robber's curse of the vagina
Aspergillus is a fungus that can cause vulvovaginal infections in women. Spores are present in the air, but Aspergillus doesn’t typically cause infections without a compromised immune system, though this doesn’t always apply to vulvovaginal infections.
The most common entry point for Aspergillus is the nose and lungs, but the fungus may enter your system via air, food, or direct contact. Dirty air conditioning units, compost, and damp or flood-damaged homes may produce a high level of Aspergillus spores.
Egyptian pharaoh tomb robber’s curse of the vagina
It’s believed that a thousand-year-old Aspergillus niger survived in the decomposing flesh and the fabric wraps of ancient Egyptian pharaoh mummies. When the caskets were opened, the fungi may have become airborne and breathed in by the excavator (robber) of the tomb, which would, within a few weeks, turn into a deadly case of mysterious pneumonia and kill the robber.
Aspergillus in the vagina
In the vagina, Aspergillus is not a common fungus related to chronic recurrent vaginal infections, with just one publication linking Aspergillus with vaginal infections. Chronic, unresponsive infections of the vulva, vestibule and/or vagina – in women without compromised immune systems, it’s important to note – were identified.
These infections were treated with itraconazole for 30 days, and this treatment effectively resolved the infection in that group of patients.
In one Egyptian study, women who had intrauterine devices (IUDs) and douched were most at risk of infections, with out of about half the women with vulvovaginal infections, 7.4 per cent were found to have Aspergillus present. The researchers (Baggish and Ventolini) concluded that Aspergillus would, if given the opportunity, cause serious infection.
The researchers recommended that Aspergillus be added to the list of suspect microbes in women who present with a chronic vulvovaginal fungal infections.
Symptoms of Aspergillus infection in the vagina
Any effect from Aspergillus may be referred to as Aspergillosis. That is, an allergy to, an infection from, or fungal overgrowth of Aspergillus. This overgrowth can cause symptoms similar to a regular yeast infection, such as itching, soreness, rawness and discharge.
Treating vulvovaginal Aspergillus infection
Biomedical treatment is antifungal, Itraconazole, 200 mg daily for 30 days. Garlic is known to inhibit Aspergillus, and can be used vaginally.
The genus Aspergillus is comprised of hundreds of moulds, with each species found in different corners of the globe. This fungi can produce deadly disease in humans, due to the range of toxins the fungi produce. One of the most potent is a powerful carcinogen, aflatoxin. Aspergillus prefer areas where there is decomposition, waste, or anything that remains still.
Aspergillus colonises and infects areas of the human body that have varying pH.
- Chandra S, Gaur D, Harsh M, Chaturvedi J, Kishore S, An Unusual Presentation of Aspergillus Species in a Routine Cervicovaginal Pap Smear. Acta Cytologica 2009;53:229-231
- Journal of Gynecologic Surgery. Volume: 24 Issue 2: June 26, 2008