Indian Journal of Community Medicine

: 2006  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15--17

Prevalence of RTIs among women of reproductive age group in Shimla city

A Parashar, BP Gupta, AK Bhardwaj, R Sarin 
 Deptt. of Community Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh)171001, India

Correspondence Address:
A Parashar
Deptt. of Community Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh)171001


Objective : To find out the prevalence of RTIs among women of reproductive age group. Study design: Cross-Sectional Study. Setting and Participants : Women of reproductive age group in 25 Municipal Wards of Shimla City. Study period : March 1999 to October 1999. Sample size : 600 women between 15-49 years age. Study variables : Education, marital status, age at marriage, socioeconomic status, menstrual hygiene practices, contraceptive practices, parity. Results : The study was undertaken based on syndromic approach for RTIs. Based on the complaints of the patients, laboratory investigations were also undetaken. Overall prevalence of RTIs was found to be 36.3% and this prevalence was significantly related to mean age at the marriage, marital status, parity, menstrual hygiene practices, current contraceptive method use and socioeconomic status.

How to cite this article:
Parashar A, Gupta B P, Bhardwaj A K, Sarin R. Prevalence of RTIs among women of reproductive age group in Shimla city.Indian J Community Med 2006;31:15-17

How to cite this URL:
Parashar A, Gupta B P, Bhardwaj A K, Sarin R. Prevalence of RTIs among women of reproductive age group in Shimla city. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2006 [cited 2022 May 17 ];31:15-17
Available from:

Full Text


Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health problem worldwide, more so in developing countries where they collectively rank among the five most important causes of healthy productive life lost [1] . Reproductive tract infections (RTIs) affect the health and social well being of women, particularly those in the reproductive and economically most productive age groups, and their offsprings [2] . The World Bank estimates that for adults between 15 to 44 years of age in the developing world, STDs not including HIV infection are the second common cause of healthy life lost in women, after maternal morbidity and mortality [3] . Studies in women in developing countries have found RTIs rates ranging from 52% to 92%, and fewer than half the women recognized the conditions as abnormal [4] .

Globally, prevalence and incidence estimates of selected curable STDs have a very high range [5] . The studies conducted in India indicate high prevalence of RTIs [6] . A broad based study conducted in different parts of the country revealed a prevalence varying from 19 to 71 percent [7] . Marked variation has been found across all these studies in terms of pattern and level of morbidity which means that no single set of estimates for RTIs, could apply in such a large and diverse country as India. Hence, the prevalence rates of RTIs for a particular geographical area need to be assessed so as to help the health administrators in providing better services for their treatment and control.

Since, no community based data has been encountered regarding the prevalence of RTIs from urban areas and associated risk factors in this hilly state, so the present study was an attempt regarding the prevalence of RTIs and some risk factors associated with it among women living in Shimla City.

 Material & Methods

The study was conducted in the Municipal Corporation limits of Shimla City, which is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and a hilly area located in the northern part of India. The study was done from March to October 1999. The study was conducted among women of reproductive age group, i.e., 15­49 years of age. The study was cross-sectional in design. The sample size of 600 was calculated assuming prevalence of 40%.

This sample size of 600 was equally divided among 6 wards that were randomly selected to give equal representation to all the strata of community. Hence, 100 women were included in this study from each of the six randomly selected wards. In each of the sample wards, after ascertaining the number of household and geographic spread, first survey house was selected at random. Then the next nearest house was selected till 100 contiguous respondents, i.e., women in 15-49 years age group were covered.

The study was conducted by house-to-house visit with the help of schedule that was pretested in one of the wards of Shimla Municipal Corporation area and appropriate changes were done. The responses were mostly precoded with fixed response categories.

Those women who gave history of complaints relating to reproductive tract were subjected to examination including bimanual and per speculum examination. In addition 10% of total sample, i.e., 60 women who were asymptomatic were also subjected to examination. Unmarried girls were subjected to rectal rather than vaginal examination. The symptomatic women in this study were classified into four categories of syndromes as per standard guidelines of National AIDS Control Organization. The syndromes selected were vaginal discharge, genital ulcer disease, lower abdominal pain and inguinal bubo. All the women who had symptoms on history taking, were subjected to laboratory examination in the form of blood sample for VDRL test and wet preparation of vaginal smear for Trichomonas vaginalis and Candida albicans. In addition to this, these tests were also conducted in 60 asymptomatic cases by random selection. Other investigations like endocervical swab for culture sensitivity, X-Ray pelvis, urine culture and sensitivity, ultrasonography were also done wherever indicated by the gynecologist.

Analysis was done by standard statistical method.


Out of 600 women who were contacted during the study period, 248 (41.3%) reported various types of symptoms related to reproductive tract [Table 1]. The distribution of population according to gynecological and sexual morbidity through clinical examination as shown in [Table 2].

Prevalence of RTIs :Out of 600 respondents, 218 (36.3%) were suffering from one or other type of syndromes though 248 had reported various types of complaints during course of history taking. Out of these 248, 208 (83.9%) were confirmed by clinical examination, rest of 10 women were those who did not report history of any complaints related to reproductive tract.

The laboratory investigations, i.e., vaginal smear examination and blood test for VDRL were done in 248 symptomatic and 60 asymptomatic women on history. Out of 60 asymptomatic, 7 (11.7%) cases were positive for vaginal smear examination. Out of symptomatics, 110 (44.4%) cases were positive for vaginal smear examination and 2 (0.8%) were with positive blood test for VDRL. The vaginal smear examination has sensitivity of 94%, specificity 27.7% and positive predictive value of 44%.

Most of the cases of RTIs, i.e., 60 cases (58.2%) were illiterate. The prevalence of RTIs, decreased with attainment of higher educational status (x 2 = 55.76 p 2 = 45.36, p 2 = 100.21, p 2 = 40 p x2 = (13.28 p [8] . The difference may be due to the study design as that study was clinic-based study. The prevalence of VD in our study is almost half as compared to that of 33% observed during another clinic-based study in a hospital in Kerala [9] .

In our study, 248 (41.3%) women reported one symptom or the other relating to RTIs / STIs which is lower than that of 52% obtained during a baseline study conducted in district Sirmaur during early 1998 by UNFPA [10] . The reported complaints of vaginal discharge were very high (54%) in another study from district Sirmaur, which was based on health camps [11] . This may be due to different selection criteria taken in that study and different settings adopted for the study as our study was in urban set up.

The prevalence of RTIs decreased with the attainment of higher educational status. The prevalence was highest among illiterate women. The relationship of education and health is a well­established fact. Attainment of education clears various misconceptions about many illnesses including RTIs and encourages preventive practices. These facts have also been authenticated in various studies conducted in India [9] ,[12] .

Majority of the women contacted, used any type of cloth, whether clean or unclean and prevalence was comparatively very high in them x2 = (100.21 p [10] . The resulting infections are due to overgrowth of normal vaginal flora, resulting from unhygienic practices, which causes local as well as ascending infection including pelvic inflammatory diseases.

The prevalence of RTIs was more in those who got married before the age of 15 years. Even though, the study area being the capital city, one third of the respondents got married before the legal age for marriage, the fact which needs to be emphasized while planning interventions for the control RTIs. Early age at marriage means early sexual activities, which may cause trauma, hence offering a platform for future infections. These findings have been observed by various other workers [13] ,[14] where early sexual debut had a greater number of RTI/STIs and more cervical atypias. In our study, the prevalence of RTIs was significantly low in those women who were using barrier methods. Barrier contraceptives are known to provide protection against RTI/STIs. The prevalence of RTIs was more among IUD users and those using terminal methods of contraception. This is because introduction of foreign body in uterine cavity make women more prone for ascending infection from lower genital tract. Bang et al [6] in their study have also revealed the similar association.

Out of 600 respondents, 218 (36.3%) were found suffering from any of the four syndromes selected for the study. Out of 248 women complaining in history, 208 were confirmed by clinical examination. 60 asymptomatic women were also subjected to the vaginal smear examination, 10 (11.7%) of them were positive on vaginal smear examinatiion. This means, many women are asymptomatic hence may not be seeking treatment, though they may be suffering from disease.

There is an urgent need to create relevant awareness among the target population regarding the sign and symptoms pertaining to RTIs. The peripheral health workers should be oriented and sensitized for identifying various sign and symtoms of RTIs and be able to treat or refer the patients to the primary health centers for early and prompt treatment. The treatment based on syndromic approach should be adopted to ensure confidentiality.


1Over M, Piot P. HIV infection and sexually transmitted disease. In, Jameson DT, Mosley WH, Measham AR et al eds. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, 445­529, New York, Oxford University Press, 1993.
2Rowley J, Berkley S. Sexually Transmitted Disease. In, Murray CJL, Lopez AD, eds. Health dimensions of sex and reproduction : The global burden of sexually transmitted disease, HIV, maternal conditions, perinatal disorders, and congenital anomalies. Cambridge : Harward University Press, 1998.
3The World Bank, World Development Report: Investigating in health. New York Oxford University Press, 1993.
4Improving Reporoductive Health in Developing Countries. A summary of findings from the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 9, National Academy Press, October 1997.
5Gerbase AC, Rowley JT, Heymann DHL, Berkley SFB, Post P. Global prevalence and incidence estimates of selected curable STDs. Sexually Transmitted Infections 1998; 74 (1): S12-S26.
6Bang R, Bang AT, Baitule M, Chaudhary Y, Sarmukadan S and Tale O. High prevalence of gynaecological diseases in rural Indian women. Lancet 1989; 1:85-87.
7Latha K, Kanani SJ, Maitra N, Bhatt GB. Prevalence of clinically detectable gynaecological morbidity in India­Results of four community based studies. The Journal of Family Welfare 1997; 43 (4): 8-16.
8Singh V, Sehgal A, Satyanaryana L, Gupta NM, Parashari A, Chattopadhyay D. Clinical presentation of gynaecological infections among Indian women. Obstetrics Gynaecology 1995; 85: 215-219.
9Varghese C, Amma NS, Chitrathara K, Dhakad N, Rani P, Malathy L, Nair MK. Risk factors for cervical dysplasia in Kerala, India. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 1999; 77 (3): 281-283.
10Kumar R, Aggarwal AK. Baseline study of district reproductive health project Sirmaur. United Nations Populatioon Fund, 1998; 57-62.
11Shanan DS. Project on the prevalence of RTIs based on health camps. Peoples' Action for People in Need, Andheri, Sirmaur, Himachal Pradesh.
12Piot P, Holmes KK. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. In Tropical and Geographical Medicine. S Warren, AAF Mahmoud eds, New York, Mc Graw Hill 1984; 844-862.
13Bali P, Bhujwala RA. A pilot study of clinico-epidemiological investigations of vaginal discharge in rural women. Ind J Med Res. 1969; 5: 12-15.
14Jain S, Singh JV, Bhatnagar M, Garg SK, Chopra H, Bajpai SK. Reproductive tract infections among rural women in Meerut. Indian J of Medical Sciences 1999; 53: 359-360.