Vulvodynia & Vulvar Vestibulitis

“Vulvodynia & Vulvar Vestibulitis are a cause of great distress. The origin of vulvodynia may be hormonal (like being on the pill or missing an ovary), neurological (too many nerve endings, oversensitive nerves), or musculoskeletal (tight or dysfunctional pelvic floor)” [1], to that end, seeing a Pain Specialist is essential

Vulvodynia describes a long-term painful condition in which women feel pain around the vulva and vestibule. In some cases, the pain can also be felt inside the vagina). Of note, this condition is not due to an infection/disease, although the condition can be brought about by an abnormal response in the vulvar tissue due to an injury or infection [1].

The pain generated by vulvodynia impacts the vulva (the inner and outer labia and clitoris). Moreover, it may extend to the opening of the vagina and inside the vagina itself. On top of this, you may feel pain in different places on the vulva. Furthermore, the triggers that are causing it could change. In some instances the pain is continuous, while in others, it can come and go if it is set off by certain types of activities or pressure [1].

Provoked or Unprovoked

Vulvodynia can be classed as either provoked or unprovoked. In the case of the former, you only feel the pain due to touch (the area is being provoked); or in the case of the latter, the pain is constantly prevalent without being provoked (it is unprovoked) [1].

So What Are the Symptoms of Vulvodynia?

“Vulvodynia can affect any woman from her teenage years (post-puberty) and it isn’t centred on any locale or ethnicity” [1]

• The vestibule, vulva or vagina are painful when you try to have penetrative sex. The entire region is tender, however, the other areas around the vulva are not affected
• Pain, burning, stinging and irritation, can be prevalent for a number of days after: attempting to put something (e.g. a tampon), inside the vagina; or having, or attempting sexual intercourse [1].

The Most Common Vulvodynia Symptoms

• Feeling like the vulva is burning
• A stinging sensation
• Soreness
• Rawness
• Itching
• Throbbing
• Aching
• The vulva might appear swollen or inflamed, whereas conversely, it could also look perfectly normal [1]. – Just one reason why having an examination with a Pain Specialist is so crucial.

Vulvar Vestibulitis

Vulvar vestibulitis (VVS), is a form of vulvodynia, or pain around the vulva. The pain emanates from the vestibule, the part of the vulva around the opening of the vagina. VVS can generate irritation and redness of the skin, as well as pain in the glands that are situated inside the skin.

Getting it Sorted

While there is no miracle cure for vulvodynia adn VVS, these days, there is a broad range of treatment options which include both holistic and conventional methods. The positive first step is to book an appointment with an experienced Pain Specialist. He/she will review your medical and sexual history, and then conduct a comprehensive examination. If necessary, the doctor may also give you various tests. Once the cause of your vulvodynia has been established, you will then be given a personalised treatment plan which will involve one or more forms of treatment. It is a good idea to compile a ‘Pain Diary’ which lists when you experience the pain, how long it lasts, what if feels like, and whether doing certain things bring it on, or ameliorate it. This can be shown to your Pain Specialist on each appointment.


[1]. Lloyd, J. (2020). “Understanding and treating vulvodynia.”
Understanding and treating vulvodynia and vestibulitis — My Vagina