Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva includes the: Labia majora and labia minoraClitorisVaginal opening
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The cause of vulvodynia
is not known. Some possibilities include: Injury or irritation of vulvar nervesInflamed tissueAbnormal 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 vulvodyniaChronic pain or disorders associated with chronic painSleep disturbances
Some mental health disorders, such as
posttraumatic stress disorder
yeast infectionsFrequent use of antibioticsIrritation to the genitals by soaps or detergentsGenital rashesPrevious treatment or surgery to the external genitalsPelvic nerve irritation or muscle spasms
Symptoms may include: Pain, which may come and goBurningStingingIrritationRawness
You will be asked 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.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may need to be tested. This can be done with: A swab of the vaginal areaBiopsy
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Medications may include: Topical medications that are applied to the skin, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, or anestheticsAntidepressantsAnticonvulsantsPrescription pain relievers
Therapy can help strengthen and relax the pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. A referral to a doctor who specializes in pelvic floor issues may be needed.
Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include: InjectionsNerve stimulation or nerve blocksSurgery
There are no current guidelines to prevent vulvodynia.
ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 93: Diagnosis and management of vulvar skin disorders.
Obstet Gynecol. 2008;111:5):1243-1253. Reaffirmed 2013.
Vulvodynia. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
Updated April 2014. Accessed June 8, 2016.
Vulvodynia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 27, 2016. Accessed June 8, 2016.
Vulvodynia. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at:
Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed June 8, 2016.
What is vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association website. Available at: http://www.nva.org/what-is-vulvodynia.
June 8, 2016.
4/7/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Reed BD, Legocki LJ, et al. Factors associated with vulvodynia incidence. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;123(2.1):225-231.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcie Sidman, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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