Vulvodynia is a common vulvar skin condition causing vaginal pain, vulvovaginal irritation, burning of the vagina, painful sex, stinging, soreness, and/or vulvovaginal pain.  It is defined when the symptoms have been present for at least 6 months and when there is no infection or skin disease causing the discomfort.

Vestibulodynia, also known as vestibulitis, where burning, stinging, or stabbing pain occur at the opening or just inside the vagina, mostly with sexual activity, tampons, and tight clothing-anything that touches or rubs the area.  Less commonly, some women experience vulvar pain in a more generalized pattern which is referred to as vulvodynia.

Unfortunately, one in six women experience this condition at some point in their life.  To properly treat this condition, it is first important to be evaluated by a dermatologist to rule out other skin conditions commonly seen in the vulvar area such as lichen planus, lichen sclerosus, yeast infection, and sexually transmitted disease.  With proper treatment, most patients can control their condition and are able to lead a normal life.

Treatment options for vulvodynia

  • Avoidance of irritation
  • Pelvic floor muscle evaluation and physical therapy
  • Hormone replacement or oral contraceptive therapy
  • Oral medication to improve neuropathic pain
  • Topical cream such as topical estrogen, lidocaine and others
  • Counseling, including couples counseling and treatment of any anxiety or depression that may be caused by or contributing to the condition