Vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome that causes discomfort with any kind of pressure or touch to the area surrounding the vagina. This condition is known by several different names such as Vestibulodynia, Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome and Localized Provoked Vulvodynia. Vulvodynia affects the vulva, the external female genital organs, which includes the labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening.
Symptoms of Vulvodynia usually begin suddenly and can last anywhere from months to years. These symptoms can include:
- Burning sensation
- Stinging or rawness
- Painful sex (Dyspareunia)
- Aching, soreness, or throbbing
Although doctors don’t fully know what causes most forms of Vulvodynia, researchers believe that some of the causes could be:
- Nerve injury or irritation
- Abnormal response to an infection or trauma
- Genetic factors
- Hypersensitivity to yeast infections
- Muscle spasms
- Allergies or irritation to chemicals or other substances
- Hormonal changes
- History of sexual abuse
- Frequent antibiotic use
Many health care providers may not be familiar with Vulvodynia. Women suffering from Vulvodynia should look for a doctor, sex therapist or physical therapist that is knowledgeable about this condition. Although there is no cure, there are treatments that can help bring relief. Use of vaginal dialtors may be recommended for physical therapy, which involves exercise to strengthen pelvic muscles and lessen muscle spasms, or during biofeedback, which helps women learn to relax vaginal muscles to lessen pain.
Did you know?
- 15%-20% of women worldwide suffer from vulvodynia
- 14 million women in the U.S. may have experienced chronic vulvar pain at some point in their lives
- After completing the treatment, 93.3 % women are able to resume sexual activity without discomfort
- Nearly 40% of women with vulvodynia choose not to seek treatment
- 9 to 18% women between 18-64 years old will experience vulvar pain during their lifetime