| Risk Factors
Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva includes the:
- Labia majora and labia minora
- Vaginal opening
The cause of vulvodynia
is not known. Some possibilities include:
- Injury or irritation of vulvar nerves
- Inflamed tissue
- Abnormal response to infection or trauma
Vulvodynia is more common in women who are younger. Other factors that may increase the chance of vulvodynia include:
- History of vulvodynia
- Chronic pain or disorders associated with chronic pain
- Sleep disturbances
Some mental health disorders, such as
posttraumatic stress disorder
- Frequent use of antibiotics
- Irritation to the genitals by soaps or detergents
- Genital rashes
- Previous treatment or surgery to the external genitals
- Pelvic nerve irritation or muscle spasms
Symptoms may include:
- Pain, which may come and go
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It may include a pelvic exam. The affected area may need to be examined closely. This can be done using a colposcope to magnify the area.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may need to be tested. This can be done with:
- A swab of the vaginal area
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Medications may include:
- Topical medications that are applied to the skin, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, or anesthetics
- Prescription pain relievers
Therapy can help strengthen and relax the pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. A referral to a doctor who specializes in pelvic floor issues may be needed.
Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:
- Nerve stimulation or nerve blocks
There are no current guidelines to prevent vulvodynia.
ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 93: Diagnosis and management of vulvar skin disorders.
Obstet Gynecol. 2008;111:5):1243-1253. Reaffirmed 2013.
Vulvodynia. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
Updated April 2014. Accessed June 8, 2016.
Vulvodynia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T128775/Vulvodynia. Updated September 23, 2016. Accessed September 27, 2016.
Vulvodynia. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at:
Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed June 8, 2016.
What is vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association website. Available at: http://www.nva.org/what-is-vulvodynia.
June 8, 2016.
4/7/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T128775/Vulvodynia: Reed BD, Legocki LJ, et al. Factors associated with vulvodynia incidence. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;123(2.1):225-231.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcie Sidman, MD
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