The main vulvodynia symptom is pain in your genital area, which can be characterized by:
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
The pain you experience may be constant or intermittent and can last for months or even years, but it can vanish as suddenly as it started. You may feel the pain in your entire vulvar area (generalized), or it may be localized to a certain area, such as the opening of your vagina (vestibule). A similar condition, vulvar vestibulitis, may cause pain only when pressure is applied to the area surrounding the entrance to your vagina.
Vulvar tissue may look minimally inflamed or swollen. More often, your vulva appears normal.
When to see a doctor
Although women often don't tell their doctors about the problem, vulvodynia is a fairly common condition.
If you experience pain in your genital area, discuss it with your doctor, or ask for a referral to a gynecologist. It's important to have your doctor rule out more easily treatable causes of vulvar pain, such as yeast or bacterial infections, skin conditions and medical problems such as diabetes. Once your doctor has evaluated your particular symptoms, he or she can recommend treatments or ways to help you manage your pain.
Jul. 15, 2011
- Stewart EG. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of generalized vulvodynia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Stewart EG. Treatment of vulvar pain syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Self-help tips for vulvar skin care. National Vulvodynia Association. http://www.nva.org/Self_Help_Tips.html. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Vulvodynia. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp127.cfm. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Kingdon J. Vulvodynia: A comprehensive review. Nursing for Women's Health. 2009;13:48.
- Groysman V. Vulvodynia: New concepts and review of the literature. Dermatological Clinics. 2010;28:681.
- Danby CS, et al. Approach to the diagnosis and treatment of vulvar pain. Dermatologic Therapy. 2010;23:485.