Vulvar Pain: Vulvodynia Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

“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. Also, your Pain Specialist might be able to determine a cause for your vulvar pain, so it’s important to have an examination” [1]

Vulvodynia describes long-term (three months or more) discomfort or pain around the opening of the vulva (the external part of the female genital anatomy which protects the sexual organs, vagina, vestibule and urethra). Of note: determining the cause of vulvodynia is not always easy, and that is why it is essential to book a consultation with an experienced Pain Specialist who has a long history in this very specialised field of medicine.

“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” [1]

So What are the Symptoms?

Primarily, vulvodynia symptoms involve pain in the genital region. This can be described as:

• Burning

• Rawness

• Soreness



• Itching

• Dyspareunia (painful intercourse) [1].

Is Vulvodynia Pain Continual or Occasional?

The answer to this is that it could be either. – The pain may only come about whenever a sensitive region is touched (provoked vulvodynia). However, for a percentage of women, the pain can be felt across the entire vulvar area (generalised vulvodynia). Further, the pain could be restricted to a particular area (e.g.) the vestibule (opening of the vagina). While in many cases, the vulva looks normal, the tissue could however, appear slightly swollen or inflamed. Moreover, vestibulodynia (a similar condition), only generates pain when pressure is applied to the region around the vagina entrance [1].

So What Causes Vulvodynia?

Contributing factors comprise:

• Irritation or injury to the nerves which encircle the vulvar area

• Changes in hormones

• Past vaginal infections

• Sensitive skin or allergies

•Weakness or muscle spasm of the pelvic floor. (The latter supports the bowel, bladder and uterus) [1].

So What Treatments Are Available?

Your Pain Specialist will look at your medical history, give you an examination (if required); and should it be necessary, take one or two tests. He/she will then tell your about the available options to treat your vulvodynia pain. Everyone is different, and to that end, a holistic Personalised Treatment Plan is devised to fit your needs.

The broad range of treatments are geared to relieve symptoms, and in many cases, a combination of different treatments is the best option. These treatments include: medications (to help lessen chronic pain and itching); local anaesthetics; nerve blocks, pelvic floor therapy; biofeedback therapy; and in a small number of cases, surgery (vestibulectomy) [1].


Mayo Clinic (2020). “Vulvodynia.”
Vulvodynia – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic