Understanding Vulvar Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

“Various conditions & activities can cause vulvar pain. Pain can result from pressure or touch, or occur without any apparent trigger or provocation. The pain comes & goes for some people, but it can be constant for others” [1], & to that end, it is crucial to ensure that you get an accurate diagnosis from a Vulva Pain Specialist

Putting a Spotlight on Vulva Pain

As any Vulva Doctor will tell you, there is a long list of causes. Moreover, the pain can be general (in that it can impact your entire vulva); or localised, in that it may only affect certain areas. Furthermore, pain the vulva can take hold in any of your vulva’s structures, and this can develop for various reasons. Of note, the symptoms of your vulva pain are variable, and dependent on the root cause [1].

What Symptoms Should I Look Out For?

Common symptoms include:
• Stinging
• Burning
• Irritation
• Aching
• Stabbing
• Throbbing
• Itching
• Rawness

So What Are the Causes of Vulva Pain?

Vestibulodynia: this describes discomfort and pain in the opening of the vagina (the vestibule). It normally comes about from pressure (provoked vulvodynia), during sex, inserting a tampon, and so on [1].

“Vulvodynia & vestibulodynia result from a hypersensitivity of the nerve endings in the skin of the vulva” [1]

One of the causes of Vulvodynia, is erosive lichen planus (a long-term skin disorder). In addition to this, the outer lips (labia majora) – the skin folds surrounding your vagina and other vulva structures, can be susceptible to a plethora of different skin conditions, some of which can be very painful [1].

Moreover, the Bartholin glands (which are situated in the labia minora), serve to lubricate the vulva and vagina. If there is a blockage in any of the ducts, it can result in a painful cyst [1].

Furthermore, localised pain in the clitoris, can generate a distressing, disabling sexual pain syndrome [1].

Getting it Sorted

When you have a consultation with a Pain Specialist, they will review your medical history, ask you pertinent questions, and undertake any necessary examinations, tests and scans, in order to determine the root cause of your pain.

Treatment Options

Your Vulva Doctor will compile a Holistic Personalised Treatment Plan for you. They will also explain about the type of treatment/treatments that will be the most beneficial for your particular circumstances. These include:

• Pharmaceuticals to address the pain
• Muscle relaxants
• Hormonal medication
• Anti-inflammatory treatment
• Pelvic floor physical therapy
• Pain blockers
• Local anaesthetics [2]


[1]. Galan, N. (2023). “What are the causes and treatments for vulvar pain?” Medical News Today.

[2]. Mayo Clinic (2022). “Vulvodynia.”