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Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva includes the:
- Labia majora and labia minora
- Vaginal opening
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The cause of vulvodynia
is not known. Some possibilities include:
- Injury or irritation of vulvar nerves
- Inflammed 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
post-traumatic 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
Your doctor will ask 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.
Testing may include:
- Tests to check for bacteria and/or yeast
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
- Topical medications that are applied to the skin, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, or anesthetics
- Prescription pain relievers
Therapy can help you strengthen and relax your pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in pelvic floor issues.
Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:
- Nerve stimulation or nerve blocks
There are no current guidelines to prevent vulvodynia.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
National Vulvodynia Association http://www.nva.org
Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org
ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 93: Diagnosis and management of vulvar skin disorders.
Obstet Gynecol. 2008;111:5):1243-1253. Reaffirmed 2013.
What is vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association website. Available at:http://www.nva.org/what-is-vulvodynia.
June 26, 2013.
Vulvodynia. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
Updated August 2010. Accessed
June 26, 2013.
Vulvodynia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 25, 2013. Accessed June 26, 2013.
Vulvodynia. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at:
Updated April 3, 2013. Accessed June 26, 2013.
4/7/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Reed BD, Legocki LJ, Plegue MA, Sen A, Haefner HK, Harlow SD. Factors associated with vulvodynia incidence. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;123(2.1):225-231.