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Cartersville Medical Center
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Vulvodynia

Definition

Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva includes the:

  • Labia majora and labia minora
  • Clitoris
  • Vaginal opening

Female Genitalia
si55550966 96472 1 vulva.jpeg
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The cause of vulvodynia is not known. Some possibilities include:

  • Injury or irritation of vulvar nerves
  • Inflamed tissue
  • Abnormal response to infection or trauma

Risk Factors

Vulvodynia is more common in women who are younger. Other factors that may increase the chance of vulvodynia include:

  • History of vulvodynia
  • Chronic pain or disorders associated with chronic pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Some mental health disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Recurrent yeast infections
  • Frequent use of antibiotics
  • Irritation to the genitals by soaps or detergents
  • Genital rashes
  • Previous treatment or surgery to the external genitals
  • Pelvic nerve irritation or muscle spasms

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain, which may come and go
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Irritation
  • Rawness

Diagnosis

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 area
  • Biopsy

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

Medications

Medications may include:

  • Topical medications that are applied to the skin, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, or anesthetics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Prescription pain relievers

Physical Therapy

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.

Other Treatments

Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:

  • Injections
  • Nerve stimulation or nerve blocks
  • Surgery

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent vulvodynia.

Revision Information

  • The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

    http://www.acog.org

  • National Vulvodynia Association

    http://www.nva.org

  • Canadian Women's Health Network

    http://www.cwhn.ca

  • Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

    http://www.sogc.org

  • 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: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia.html. 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: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/vulvodynia/Pages/default.aspx. Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed June 8, 2016.

  • What is vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association website. Available at: http://www.nva.org/what-is-vulvodynia. Accessed 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.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Cartersville Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.