“Vulvodynia is the medical term for chronic pain
or discomfort in the vulva
that lasts for at least three months”.1

Umbrella
What may the Vulvodynia Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Burning Vulva Syndrome
  • Dysaesthetic/Dysesthetic Vulvodynia
  • Essential Vulvodynia
  • Generalized Unprovoked Vulvodynia
  • Generalized Vulvodynia
  • Localised Provoked Vulvar Pain
  • Localised Vulvodynia
  • Pudendal Neuralgia
  • Provoked Vulvodynia
  • Superficial Dyspareunia
  • Unprovoked Vulvodynia
  • Vestibulitis
  • Vestibulodynia
  • Vulval Pain
  • Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome (VVS)
  • Vulvodynia

Vulva

What is the vulva?

DotS the definition of the vulva may vary. In Vulval Irritation the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health’s (JH) definition is:

“Your vulva is the external part of your female genitals that you can see. Your vagina is inside your body”.2

Vulval Pain

What is vulval pain?

DotS the definition of vulval pain may vary. In Medical Advice: Vulval Pain – What Is Vulvodynia? Caredownthere.com.au explain:

“If you have been searching the internet looking for answers about vulval pain you will have come across the term “vulvodynia” and have probably been confused about what it means. Basically, it is a term that simply means vulval pain. Vulvodynia is a very vague term and you will find that different doctors have different ideas about what it means. It is a bit like the term “headache”. We all know what that means, but we also know that there are many causes: anything from stress to a brain tumour!

Vulvodynia is also known as the “burning vulva syndrome””.3

Vulvodynia

What is vulvodynia?

DotS the definition of the vulvodynia may vary. In Vulval Pain: Vulvodynia the JH’s definition is:

“Vulvodynia is the medical term for chronic pain or discomfort in the vulva that lasts for at least three months. Any pressure applied to your vulva, such as having sex, inserting a tampon, using toilet paper or sitting for prolonged periods of time can be unbearable”.4

In What Is Vulvodynia? [+ Diagrams] the (United States) National Vulvodynia Association’s (NVA) definition is:

“Vulvodynia, simply put, is chronic vulvar pain without an identifiable cause. The location, constancy and severity of the pain vary among sufferers. Some women experience pain in only one area of the vulva, while others experience pain in multiple areas. The most commonly reported symptom is burning, but women’s descriptions of the pain vary. One woman reported her pain felt like “acid being poured on my skin,” while another described it as “constant knife-like pain””.5

In Vulvodynia the (United Kingdom) Vulval Pain Society’s (VPS) definition is:

“Vulvodynia is the term used to describe the condition experienced by women who have the sensation of vulval burning and soreness in the absence of any obvious skin condition or infection. The sensation of burning and soreness of the vulva can be continuous (unprovoked vulvodynia), or on light touch, e.g. from sexual intercourse or tampon use (provoked vulvodynia)”.6

Localised Vulvodynia

What is localised vulvodynia?

DotS the definition of localised vulvodynia may vary. In What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Localised Vulvodynia? [+ Diagrams] the NVA’s definition is:

“Most women have pain at only one vulvar site. If the pain is in the vestibule, the tissue surrounding the vaginal opening, the diagnosis is vestibulodynia (formerly known as vulvar vestibulitis syndrome (VVS))”.7

Provoked Vulvodynia (Vestibulodynia)

What is provoked vulvodynia?

DotS the definition of provoked vulvodynia may vary. In What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Localized Vulvodynia? [+ Diagrams]  the NVA explain:

“The majority of women with localized vulvodynia have Provoked Vestibulodynia (PVD), in which pain occurs during or after pressure is applied to the vestibule, e.g., with:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Tampon insertion
  • A gynecologic examination
  • Prolonged sitting and/or
  • Wearing fitted pants”.8

Unprovoked Vulvodynia

What may the pain be like in unprovoked vulvodynia?

In Vulvodynia: What Are the Symptoms? the VPS elaborate on:


Vulvodynia“The pain described by women with unprovoked vulvodynia is often of a burning, aching nature. The intensity of pain can vary from mild discomfort to a severe constant pain which can even prevent you from sitting down comfortably. The pain is usually continuous and can interfere with sleep. As with long-term pain from any cause you can have good days and bad days. Itching is not usually a feature of the condition”.9

The VPS also note:

“The pain in unprovoked vulvodynia is not always restricted to the vulval area (area of skin on the outside of the vagina), and some women get pain elsewhere. This can be around the inside of the thighs, upper legs and even around the anus (back passage) and urethra (where you pass urine). Some women also have pain when they empty their bowels. Unprovoked vulvodynia can have an effect on sexual activity and is associated with pain during foreplay and penetration.

In some women with unprovoked vulvodynia the burning sensation can be generalised over the whole genital area. Alternatively it can be localised to just the clitoris (clitorodynia) or just one side of the vulva (hemivulvodynia)”.10

Generalized Vulvodynia

What is generalized vulvodynia?

DotS the definition of generalized vulvodynia may vary. In What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Generalized Vulvodynia? [+ Diagrams] the NVA’s definition is:

“For women with generalized vulvodynia (GV), pain occurs spontaneously and is relatively constant, but there can be some periods of symptom relief.

Activities that apply pressure to the vulva, such as prolonged sitting or sexual intercourse, typically exacerbate symptoms”.11

Duration

How long may vulvodynia symptoms last?

In Vulvodynia: Symptoms & Causes – Overview the (United States) Mayo Clinic explain:

“The pain, burning or irritation linked with vulvodynia can make you so uncomfortable that sitting for a long time or having sex becomes unthinkable. The condition can last for months to years”.12

Cause

What causes vulvodynia?

In Vulvodynia: What Causes It? the VPS explain:

“For a minority of women with vulvodynia, back problems such as slipped discs and others can cause spinal nerve compression and cause referred pain to the vulval area. In the majority of cases, however, the precise cause of the nerve damage or irritation remains unknown. Vulvodynia is known as an idiopathic condition, i.e. a condition with no known cause”.13

In Vulvodynia: Symptoms and Causes – What Causes Vulvodynia? the (United States) Cleveland Clinic also note:

“Researchers aren’t sure what causes vulvodynia, but there are many potential causes, including:

  • Inflammation
  • Hormonal factors
  • Genetic (inherited) factors
  • Injury to your nerves (neuropathic problems)
  • Long-term reactions to past vaginal infections
  • Weakened pelvic floor muscles or muscle spasms
  • Irritation from harsh products that touch your skin”.14

Common or Not

How common is vulvodynia?

In Vulval Pain: Vulvodynia the JH note:

“Vulvodynia can affect women of all ages, but it usually affects women from their mid-20s to 60s. It’s estimated about 16% of women will experience vulvodynia in their lifetime”.15

Health Care Provider

What if I think I have vulvodynia?

If you think you have vulvodynia, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. The Mayo Clinic explain:

“If you have pain in your vulva, talk with your gynecologist or another member of your healthcare team. If you don’t have a gynecologist, you might be referred to one. A healthcare professional needs to find out if your pain has a treatable cause that’s different from vulvodynia, such as:

  • An active infection from yeast or bacteria
  • A sexually transmitted disease such as herpes
  • An inflammatory skin condition
  • Vulvar growths
  • Genitourinary syndrome of menopause”.16

In Vulvodynia: Frequently Asked Questions – A Note From Cleveland Clinic the Cleveland Clinic also encourage us to seek help:

“Contact your provider if you’re experiencing pain in your vulva. Your pain may be related to a specific condition, or it may be vulvodynia. Either way, there are likely treatments that can help. At first, it may take time for your provider to find the treatments that provide you relief. The treatments that work best for someone else may not work for you. Still, the sooner you begin exploring treatment options, the better off you’ll be. Don’t live with pain — or compromise your well-being — when you don’t have to”.17

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics A-Z related to the Vulvodynia?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

Where may I find Links related to Vulvodynia?

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted:

Sources

  1. Vulval Pain: Vulvodynia. Last Updated: 23 January 2024 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulval-pain Accessed: 09 May 2024
  2. Vulval Irritation. Last Updated: 22 April 2024 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulval-irritation Accessed: 09 May 2024
  3. Medical Advice: Vulval Pain – What Is Vulvodynia? Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/advice.html Accessed: 09 May 2024
  4. Vulval Pain: Vulvodynia. Last Updated: 23 January 2024 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulval-pain Accessed: 09 May 2024
  5. What Is Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 09 May 2024
  6. Vulvodynia. Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 09 May 2024
  7. What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Localized Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 09 May 2024
  8. What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Localized Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 09 May 2024
  9. Vulvodynia: What Are the Symptoms? Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 09 May 2024
  10. Vulvodynia: What Are the Symptoms? Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 09 May 2024
  11. What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Generalized Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 09 May 2024
  12. Vulvodynia: Symptoms & Causes – Overview. 01 September 2023. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353423 Accessed: 09 May 2024
  13. Vulvodynia: What Causes It? Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 09 May 2024
  14. Vulvodynia: Symptoms and Causes – What Causes Vulvodynia? Last Reviewed: 27 December 2022. Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17878-vulvodynia Accessed: 09 May 2024
  15. Vulval Pain: Vulvodynia. Last Updated: 23 January 2024 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulval-pain Accessed: 09 May 2024
  16. Vulvodynia: Symptoms & Causes – Overview. 01 September 2023. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353423 Accessed: 09 May 2024
  17. Vulvodynia: Frequently Asked Questions – A Note From Cleveland Clinic. Last Reviewed: 27 December 2022. Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17878-vulvodynia Accessed: 09 May 2024
Topic Last Updated: 09 May 2024 – Topic Last Reviewed: 21 December 2023

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