Vulvodynia is pain of the vulva that lasts more than three months.

The vulva is made up of the:

  • Labia majora and labia minora
  • Clitoris
  • Vaginal opening


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Causes    TOP

The cause is not known. It may be due to:

  • Injury or infection
  • A problem with how the body responds to pain

Risk Factors    TOP

Vulvodynia is more common in women who are 20-40 years of age.

Other factors that may raise your risk are:

Symptoms    TOP

The main symptom is pain that lasts more than three months.

You may have:

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Soreness
  • Aching
  • pressure
  • Pain with sex or inserting tampons

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may also have a pelvic exam. The area may need to be closely checked. This can be done using a colposcope to magnify the area.

Your bodily fluids and tissues may need to be tested. This can be done with:

  • A swab of the vaginal area
  • Biopsy

Treatment    TOP

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. This may mean:


You may be given:

  • Topical medicines that are put on the skin, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, or anesthetics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antiseizure medicine

Physical Therapy

Therapy can help strengthen and relax the pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. A doctor who specializes in pelvic floor issues may be needed.

Supportive Care    TOP

The following steps can help ease pain:

  • Wear 100% cotton underwear.
  • Do not douche.
  • Use only mild soaps for bathing. Pat the area dry after bathing.
  • Use lubrication when having sex.
  • Apply cold packs to the area.
  • Rinse the area after urination. Pat it dry.

Other Treatments    TOP

Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:

  • Injections
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Surgery

Prevention    TOP

Vulvodynia can't be prevented.


The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
National Vulvodynia Association


Canadian Women's Health Network
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada


ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 93: Diagnosis and management of vulvar skin disorders. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;111:5):1243-1253. Reaffirmed 2013.
Vulvodynia. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
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Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed July 26, 2018.
Vulvodynia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated September 18, 2018. Accessed July 26, 2018.
Vulvodynia. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 31, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2018.
What is vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 26, 2018.
4/7/2014 EBSCO DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. Reed BD, Legocki LJ, et al. Factors associated with vulvodynia incidence. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;123(2.1):225-231.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kathleen A. Barry, MD
Last Updated: 7/26/2018

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