Vulvodynia and its Impact on Quality of Life

“Vulvodynia has a profound effect on a woman’s quality of life. Research suggests that it leads to physical dysfunction & limiting activities related to work, hobbies & sexual relations. Socially, vulvodynia interferes with a woman’s ability to initiate & maintain relationships. Emotionally, women experience frustration, anger, & sadness. These effects should be viewed as interacting, e.g., discomfort with intercourse (physical) can impact a woman’s ability to develop & maintain intimate relationships (social), which can lead to feelings of loneliness, anger & frustration (emotional)” [1]

Looking at the Downhill Slide on Relationships

Important Vulvodynia self-help books such Viva La Vulva by Dr Christopher Jenner, MB BS, FRCA FFPMRCA, who works with women every day to help them manage and treat their long-term vulvar pain, lift the lid on how this most unwelcome of conditions seriously affects a woman’s psychological well-being and intimate relationships. Aspects which can bring about low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

In addition to the aforementioned: research shows that: “Social constructions around sex and womanhood also exacerbate psychological difficulties by increasing shame, silencing, and guilt at not being able to “perform as a woman,” which in turn leads women to feel de-gendered and no longer “a real woman” [2]. No woman should have to suffer due to any such social constructs, and treatment should be readily available.

An Accurate Diagnosis & the Best Choice of Vulvodynia Treatment

As matters currently stand, in the UK, receiving appropriate vulva pain treatment under the NHS, is extremely limited. Moreover, there is a great point of concern for many vulvodynia sufferers. – Generally speaking, GPs (general practitioners), have not had the necessary extensive training and experience that Pain Specialists have had. This renders the possibility that if sufferers consult a GP, as opposed to a highly qualified and extremely experienced Pain Doctor, they may not receive an accurate diagnosis or appropriate contemporary and cutting-edge treatment from the former. Furthermore, they may not want to open up to a GP about such personal issues. – Issues which are treated very sensitively by Vulva Pain Specialists, a number of whom are female.


[1]. Ponte M, Klemperer E, Sahay A, Chren MM. Effects of vulvodynia on quality of life. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Jan;60(1):70-6. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

[2]. Shallcross, R., Dickson, J.M., Nunns, D. et al. Women’s Experiences of Vulvodynia: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Journey Toward Diagnosis. Arch Sex Behav 48, 961–974 (2019).