Vaginal Health

Vulvodynia Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

September 4, 2018

Vulvodynia is a chronic pain in the vulva, the exterior female genitalia. The pain or distress has no obvious cause and can impact the labia, clitoris, or vaginal opening. Phyllis Mate, co-founder of the National Vulvodynia Association, provides insight into this condition.

The International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease defines vulvodynia as chronic vulvar discomfort or pain characterized by burning, stinging, irritation or rawness of the female genitalia.

Chronic is defined as existing for three to six months.


The cause of vulvodynia remains unknown. It might be the end result of multiple elements. Physicians speculate it could possibly be caused by an injury to or irritation of the nerves which supply and receive input in the vulva; a localized hypersensitivity to yeast; an allergic response to environmental ailments; elevated levels of oxalate crystals in the urine; or spasm and/or irritation of the pelvic floor muscles. There’s no proof that vulvodynia is brought on by disease or it is a sexually transmitted disease.


Burning sensations are common; however, the type and severity of symptoms experienced are highly individualized. Some women describe their pain because stinging irritation or rawness. Vulvodynia may be continuous or intermittent, concentrated in one place or distribute.

Both major subsets of this condition: generalized vulvodynia and localized vulvodynia.

Vestibulodynia is a specific kind of localized vulvodynia.

  • Generalized vulvodynia is characterized by pain that is spread out through the vulvar region. It can be present from the labia majora and/or labia minora. Sometimes it impacts the clitoris, perineum, mons pubis and/or inner thighs. The pain may be continuous or intermittent, and it is not necessarily initiated by touch or pressure to the vulva. The vulvar tissue might appear inflamed, but generally, there are not any visible findings.
  • Localized vulvodynia is more prevalent and also the pain is at just 1 site, such as the vestibule. Women with vestibulodynia suffer from pain when touch or pressure is applied to the vestibule ( the area surrounding the opening of the vagina). Girls may experience pain with intercourse, tampon insertion, gynecologic exam, bicycle riding, horseback or bike riding, and wearing tight clothing, such as jeans. Most frequently, the vestibule of women with VVS is red and inflamed.

Regardless of the kind of vulvodynia a woman has, the disease imposes serious limitations on a woman’s capacity to operate and engage in regular daily activities. The pain can be so intense and unremitting it forces women to step up from career places, abstain from sexual relations, and restrict physical actions. Not surprisingly, these limitations negatively influence a woman’s self-image; many girls become depressed because of the physical pain itself and the associated psychological and social consequences.


The identification of vulvodynia is made by ruling out other conditions which can lead to vulvar pain, such as sexually transmitted diseases, infections, skin disorders, and human papillomavirus. A patient’s medical history needs to be examined carefully, and a complete vulvar and vaginal evaluation is essential.

A culture can be taken from the vagina to rule out things such as sexually transmitted diseases and illnesses. A”q-tip” test is often administered during the exam. During this test, different areas of the vulva and vestibule are touched with a cotton swab to ascertain the severity and location of a woman’s pain. If the doctor sees regions of skin that appear suspicious during the examination, a biopsy of the skin may be required.

Additionally, physicians may recommend a colposcopy, a process which uses a specialized tool to examine the vulva more carefully.


Since the reason behind vulvodynia isn’t understood, therapy is usually geared towards relieving symptoms and providing some measure of pain relief.

Various treatments work for different women, so several may be attempted to get the one which works best for you personally. The types of remedies Which May be tried include:

  • Eliminating Infection
  • Oral over-the-counter drugs
  • Topical medications including hormone lotion, topical anesthetics, and topical naturopathic drugs
  • Pelvic floor muscle treatment
  • Neurostimulation
  • Biofeedback
  • Nerve block injections
  • Surgery
  • Complementary and alternative therapies