What is Vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia used to be called vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, or VVS. It is characterized is a marked sensitivity or chronic pain felt at the opening of the vagina. While symptoms can vary for many women, women with Vulvodynia frequently find penetrative intercourse and even light touching to the vulva extremely painful. Vulvodynia is considered a chronic pain disorder. Various studies have shown that vulvodynia affects approximately 15% to 20% of adult women. It is the most common cause of sexual pain in premenopausal women and one of the most difficult for most doctors to correctly diagnose and treat.


What causes Vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia or vestibulodynia may be the result of many different causes. In the past few years’ sexual health organizations have produced a small amount of evidence-based literature surrounding this disorder but there is still more to be learned and not every patient presents in the same fashion. As of now, providers have been unable to determine the exact cause of the disorder, however, causes may include inflammatory and infectious disease processes, neurologic conditions, genetic factors, stress factors, and hormone factors. As a result, one management strategy for all women with complaints of vulvar pain will likely not be successful.

Unfortunately, there are minimal evidence-based data to guide health care professionals in the management of women with vulvodynia. Many health care professionals combine treatments including psychotherapy and/or behavioral counseling, pain medication, pelvic floor physical therapy, hormone treatments if indicated, and, as a last treatment option, surgical removal of portions of the affected vestibule. Your healthcare provider at the SHOW Center will work with you to outline an individualized, holistic treatment plan based on a bio-psycho-social approach to encompass all aspects of care.


*This information does not replace a provider consultation. You should schedule an appointment with your provider if you experience any of these symptoms.