Vulvodynia: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Vulvodynia Symptoms

What is Vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome of the vulva, the external genitalia of women and girls, marked by burning, stinging, irritation, or other discomfort. It can range from mild to severely disabling and can last for months or even years. According to the National Institutes for Health, up to 16 percent of women experience vulvodynia at some point in their lives.

Symptoms of Vulvodynia

Symptoms of vulvodynia can vary based on the type of condition. Common symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation in the vulvar area
  • Sharp pain on sexual contact
  • Throbbing sensation
  • Rawness of the vulvar area
  • Itching in the vulvar area

Diagnosing Vulvodynia

Since vulvodynia does not show up on a physical examination, it can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor may perform a physical exam to rule out other causes of vulvar pain, such as dermatological conditions or infections. Your doctor may also use imaging tests like an ultrasound or MRI to exclude other causes of vulvar pain.

Treatment of Vulvodynia

Treatment options for vulvodynia vary depending on the type of condition and the underlying cause. Common treatments include:

  • Topical medications such as corticosteroids, anti-itch creams, or numbing agents.
  • Oral medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or antihistamines.
  • Hormone therapy with topical or systemically administered hormones.
  • Physical therapy to help relax the muscles and tissues in the vulvar area.
  • Surgery to remove scar tissue and abnormal tissues.

Vulvodynia and Health

Vulvodynia can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and a decreased level of sexual activity. Additionally, it is important to be mindful of other health conditions that can be related to vulvodynia, such as endometriosis, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, and irritable bowel syndrome. It is important to seek medical treatment for vulvodynia to prevent further complications.


Vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome of the vulva that can range from mild to disabling. It is important to seek medical treatment if you are experiencing symptoms of vulvodynia to avoid further complications and to improve your overall quality of life.

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