“Vulvodynia, simply put, is chronic vulvar pain without an identifiable cause. The location, constancy and severity of the pain vary among sufferers”.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
  • Provoked Vulvodynia
  • Superficial Dyspareunia
  • Unprovoked Vulvodynia
  • Vestibulitis
  • Vestibulodynia
  • Vulval Pain
  • Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome
  • Vulvodynia

Vulva

What is the vulva?

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

“Vulva is the general name given to the external parts of the female genitals”.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?

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””.4

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)”.5

Terminology Changes

What are some vulvodynia terminology changes?

In Vulvodynia the VPS explain:

“Women who have unprovoked vulvodynia were formerly known as having dysaesthetic (or dysesthetic) vulvodynia where pain was felt without touch. Vestibulodynia is the term replacing vestibulitis where pain is felt on light touch. A recent change in the terminology used to describe these conditions means that the description of women with vulvodynia can be more uniform amongst health professionals and patients. Many women have symptoms which overlap between both conditions. Dysaesthetic vulvodynia and vestibulitis are now obsolete terms that you’ll hear less and less frequently as they are phased out”.6

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”.7

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))”.8

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”.9

Symptoms

What may be symptoms of 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”.10

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

“The pain, burning or irritation associated with vulvodynia can make you so uncomfortable that sitting for long periods or having sex becomes unthinkable. The condition can last for months to years”.11

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”.12

In Vulvodynia: What Is It NOT? the VPS also note:

“There are many conditions that it is not! It is not infectious, it is not related to cancer, and you will not pass it on to your partner. As stated before, some women do experience pain on the insides of the thighs and around the anus; however, this will not spread further”.13

Common or Not

How common is vulvodynia?

In Focusing on What Matters Most: Vulvovaginal Pain Disorders the (United States) Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health elaborate on:

“Chronic vaginal pain with no identifiable cause impacts an estimated six million women. Known as vulvodynia, this condition often goes undiagnosed despite the level of pain that not only makes intimacy difficult, but makes daily life a struggle of pain management”.14

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 vulvodynia, don’t let the absence of visible signs or embarrassment about discussing the symptoms keep you from seeking help. Treatment options are available to lessen your discomfort”.15

According to the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health:

“The average women suffering from vulvovaginal pain disorders will see seven doctors before receiving a diagnosis”.16

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics 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. What Is Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 25 May 2020
  2. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation. Last Updated: 04 March 2020 | Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 25 May 2020
  3. Medical Advice: Vulval Pain – What Is Vulvodynia? Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/advice.html Accessed: 25 May 2020
  4. What Is Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 25 May 2020
  5. Vulvodynia. Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 25 May 2020
  6. Vulvodynia. Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 25 May 2020
  7. What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Generalized Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 25 May 2020
  8. What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Localized Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 25 May 2020
  9. What Is Vulvodynia? What Is Localized Vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association https://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed: 25 May 2020
  10. Vulvodynia: What Are the Symptoms? Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 25 May 2020
  11. Vulvodynia: Symptoms & Causes – Overview. 22 July 2017. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353423 Accessed: 25 May 2020
  12. Vulvodynia: What Causes It? Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 25 May 2020
  13. Vulvodynia: What Is It NOT? Vulval Pain Society http://www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/index.php/vulval-conditions/vulvodynia Accessed: 25 May 2020
  14. Focusing on What Matters Most: Vulvovaginal Pain Disorders. Patty Brisben Foundation http://pattybrisbenfoundation.org/research-education/#focus Accessed: 25 May 2020
  15. Vulvodynia: Symptoms & Causes – Overview. 22 July 2017. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353423 Accessed: 25 May 2020
  16. Focusing on What Matters Most: Vulvovaginal Pain Disorders. Patty Brisben Foundation http://pattybrisbenfoundation.org/research-education/#focus Accessed: 25 May 2020
Topic Last Updated: 25 May 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 25 May 2020
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