What is Vulvodynia
Vulvodynia is simply the medical term for unexplained chronic pain of the vulva. If the pain is unrelated to an obvious cause, like an infection or skin disease, it is classified as vulvodynia. The International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD) formally defines vulvodynia as:“Vulvar discomfort, most often described as burning pain, occurring in the absence of relevant visible findings or a specific clinically identifiable, neurologic disorder.”
Other terms you may hear for vulvodynia are vulvar vestibulitis or vestibulitis. Vulvar vestibulitis refers to vulvodynia that is specifically focused on the vulva, while the term vulvodynia is more generic. Vulvodynia or vulvar vestibulitis can also contribute to vaginismus, the inability of a woman to have vaginal penetration.
The last new term to learn – I promise! – is allodynia. Allodynia is a painful response to an otherwise non-painful stimulus, like light touch. Vulvodynia is allodynia of the vulva, and vestibulodynia is allodynia of the vestibule.
Vulvodynia is an common, painful, and life-changing condition, but often goes untreated and undiagnosed. It has been estimated in early studies that we (women) have a 10-15% chance of developing vulvodynia in our lifetimes. Amazingly, studies have shown that people with this condition are divided into two very different groups.
- 40% of women choose not to seek treatment
- 60% of women had sought treatment, but saw more than three doctors without getting a firm diagnosis
This means that’s women have itching, burning, stinging, stabbing pain in their PRIVATE area that is so severe that even wearing clothes can be agonizing. Nearly half don’t know where to go in order to start treatment, and those that seek treatment spending months being bounced around between doctors without a firm diagnosis – that’s insane!
Thankfully, there are a number of physicians and researchers starting to look into the underlying [causes of vulvodynia].
Symptoms of Vulvodynia