Vulvodynia - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment of Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia (VVS)

Vulvodynia, also known as vulvar vestibulitis syndrome (VVS), is described as the spontaneous or generalized pain in the vulvar region. It may or may not be associated with pain with intercourse, also known as dyspareunia. Vulvodynia or painful vulva is the overarching category that includes both localized and generalized.

Generalized vulvodynia, pain in the entire vulvar area may too be provoked or non provoked, primary or secondary.

Localized vulvodynia in the vestibular region (the entry point into the vagina) is referred to as vulvar vestibulitis or vestibulodynia.

Vestibulodynia is pain at the vulvar vestibule or opening of the vulva. Localized vulvodynia in the vestibular region (the entry point into the vagina) is referred to as vulvar vestibulitis or vestibulodynia. It is divided into two categories. Vestibulodynia maybe provoked (PVD) which demonstrates pain on touch, especially penetration or intercourse or Non Provoked which is pain at the vestibule at all times that occurs without provocation. Some women have had pain since their first penetration (primary vulvar vestibulitis) while some develop pain after a period of time where they were pain free (Secondary Vulvar Vestibulitis).

Clitorodynia is pain that is localized in the clitoral area.

The exact cause of vestibulodynia remains to be determined. It is not a sexually transmitted disease and not a precursor to cancer. There are, however, some preliminary thoughts that link vulvodynia to these conditions include:

  • Past recurrent or chronic yeast infection (see vaginitis)
  • Allergies or hypersensitivity (for example to oxalates in urine)
  • Autoimmune disorder that may be similar to lupus erythematosus
  • Injury to vulva
  • Neuropathy including increased number of nerve endings in the vulvar and vaginal area
  • Linkage to lowered dose oral contraceptives
  • Genetic inheritance of increased nerve fibers in the vulvar region, or predisposition to inflammation

Some women with vulvodynia have a history of sexual abuse though these syndromes are not perceived to be psychological in nature.

The word "vulvodynia" means "painful vulva." Pain may be diffused in nature and in the entire vulvar region. It may occur on one or both sides of the vulva, and can be burning or raw.  A person suffering from vulvodynia may also suffer from painful intercourse (see dyspareunia)

The main symptoms of vestibulodynia include pain localized  in the vulvar region and burning, itchiness, stinging, rawness, and throbbing.  You may also experience painful intercourse (see dyspareunia)

Pain is often characterized as constant or intermittent; it can last for hours, days, months or years. The pain may be provoked by contact with an object, such as with the insertion of a tampon or penis or even with the pressure from sitting on a bicycle seat (Provoked vestibular vestibulitis) or it may be constant, as in the case of generalized. The pain of vulvodynia may extend into the clitoris; this is referred to as clitorodynia. In addition, the symptoms may be considered primary or secondary.

In addition to pain, the vulva may appear to look inflamed or swollen (see symptoms) but at times it can also look normal.

For women with clitordynia, they may experience pain localized to the clitoral area, increased discomfort with orgasm and engorgement.  They may report a discomforting achiness in the clitoral area. 



Read more about symptoms affecting the vulva and vagina that may be causing discomfort or pain.

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Read more about vulvar and vaginal disorders that affect women and their quality of life.

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