Vulvodynia – Symptoms & Causes

“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]

Vulvodynia (pronounced vul-voe-DIN-e-uh), describes the long-term (three months or more) discomfort or pain that women feel around their vulva (the opening of their vagina). In many cases, there is no distinctive cause [1].

There has Been No Better Time to Seek Help

Thanks to pioneering research, great organisations such as the National Vulvodynia Society (NVA), and award-winning pain specialists such as Dr Christopher Jenner, sufferers are now becoming empowered with the latest information, and opting for multiple cutting-edge treatments, to find what works for them, and bring an end to this scourge.

Vulvodynia is no longer a condition that should be shunned, and it is now being regularly written about in the media. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that it affects countless women all over the world. Booking a consultation with a leading Pain Specialist is the first course of action. He/she will review your medical history, give you a comprehensive examination, and then, if necessary, conduct any important tests. They will then work out a personalised treatment plan to fit in with your work and family schedule.

So What Vulvodynia Symptoms Should I Look Out For?

The prime symptom is pain in the genital region. This can be described as:

• Throbbing

• Stinging

• Sore

• Raw

• Itching

• Burning

• Feeling pain during intercourse (dyspareunia) [1].

The pain which you experience may be continuous, or just occur from time to time (for example, when a sensitive region is touched). The pain which you feel could be confined to a particular area, such as the vestibule (the opening of your vagina). Conversely, the pain could affect all the vulvar region (generalized). Although this is not always the case, in some women, the tissues of the vulva may appear a little swollen or inflamed. Moreover, vestibulodynia (a similar condition), only generates pain at the time that pressure is applied to the region around the vagina entrance [1].

And What Causes Vulvodynia Exactly?

Whilst the cause is not easy to determine, potential factors which can add to the condition, include:

• Hormonal changes

• Irritation/injury to the nerves surrounding the vulvar area

• Sensitive skin or allergies

• Previous vaginal infections

• Muscle weakness or spasm to the pelvic floor. (The latter supports the bowel, bladder and uterus) [1].

Are There Any Complications?

Yes, unfortunately, there are. – Women naturally find this condition frustrating and painful, so much so, that it can shy them away from having sex. The fall out of this is that intimate relationships often suffer, and emotional problems come to the fore. Moreover, the problem can be compounded when the psychological fear of having intercourse can generate vaginismus (muscle spasms around the vagina) [1]. Further complications might include:

• Depression

• Anxiety

• Sexual dysfunction

• Relationship issues

• An altered body image

• Trouble sleeping

• A lesser quality of life [1].


[1]. Mayo Clinic (2020). “Vulvodynia.”