Also called: Vulvar Pain
Vulvodynia can simply be defined as vulvar discomfort, but is most commonly described as burning pain, occurring due to an infection or inflammation. Also known as vulvar dysesthesia, vulvodynia is chronic vulvar pain that is characterized by burning, itching, stinging or stabbing feeling around the opening of the vagina. This pain can be constant or irregular and can last for months or even years. And it can also disappear as suddenly as it started.
If you experience vulvodynia or vulvar pain, you are not alone. Current evidence indicates that nearly 14 million women in the U.S. will at some point in their lives experience chronic vulvar burning and pain. A localized form of vulvodynia involving the vulvar vestibule is thought to be the leading cause of painful intercourse in premenopausal women.
The exact cause of vulvodynia has not yet been determined, but there are several contributing factors, including:
- Injury to or irritation of the nerves surrounding your vulva
- Muscle spasms
- Past vaginal infections
The treatments for this disorder focus on relieving symptoms and consist of:
- Biofeedback therapy
- Physical therapy
- Local anesthetics
- Topical estrogen
Types of Vulvodynia
Vulvodynia usually can be divided into groups based on the location of the pain.
- Generalized vulvodynia involves the entire vulva with symptoms of persistent, chronic pain that is burning, stinging or irritation.
- Localized vulvodynia involves only specific portions of the vulva, most commonly the vestibule or inner vulva.
In both generalized and localized vulvodynia, the pain may be provoked or triggered by physical contact. In the case of provoked pain, common triggers include vaginal intercourse, tampon insertion and tight-fitting clothing.