Definition

Vulvodynia is pain of the vulva that lasts more than three months.

The vulva is made up of the:

  • Labia majora and labia minora
  • Clitoris
  • Vaginal opening

Vulva

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The cause is not known. It may be due to:

  • Injury or infection
  • A problem with how the body responds to pain

Risk Factors

Vulvodynia is more common in women who are 20-40 years of age.

Other factors that may raise your risk are:

Symptoms

The main symptom is pain that lasts more than three months.

You may have:

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Soreness
  • Aching
  • pressure
  • Pain with sex or inserting tampons

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may also have a pelvic exam. The area may need to be closely checked. 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 area
  • Biopsy

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. This may mean:

You may be given:

  • Topical medicines that are put on the skin, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, or anesthetics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antiseizure medicine

Therapy can help strengthen and relax the pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. A doctor who specializes in pelvic floor issues may be needed.

The following steps can help ease pain:

  • Wear 100% cotton underwear.
  • Do not douche.
  • Use only mild soaps for bathing. Pat the area dry after bathing.
  • Use lubrication when having sex.
  • Apply cold packs to the area.
  • Rinse the area after urination. Pat it dry.

Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:

  • Injections
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Surgery

Prevention

Vulvodynia can't be prevented.