Medical term meaning “painful vulva”. Vulvodynia is a general term for various syndromes, including various infections and skin disorders.

The term primarily refers to two conditions: Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome: (VVS) and Vulvodynia of neurologic origin also known as essential vulvodynia, pudendal neuralgia or dysthetic vulvodynia.

VVS is a inflamation of the vestible (vaginal opening). Its symptoms include:

  • redness
  • pain with intercourse or insertion of tampons
  • stinging pain while urinating

Neurological Vulvodynia is probably caused by compression of the pudendal nerve, one of the main nerves that relays sensation to and from the genitals. Patients feel constant itching and tingling in the vulva. There is some debate about whether there really is a strong difference from VVS as VVS can develop into Neurological Vulvodynia later in life.

Signs of Vulvodynia:

  • burning or stinging sensation during intercourse or tampon insertion
  • pain is felt when the hymen and inner vaginal lips are touched
  • possible visible redness and swelling
  • sensitivity to touch – to the point that some women cannot wear underwear

Women from adolescence to post menopause can get vulvodynia. It is estimated that about 100,000-150,000 women in the U.S. suffer from vulvodynia. Generally it is more common in Caucasian women, but it is unclear how much that has to do with access to treatment vs. actual prevalence.

For the most part the causes of vulvodynia are unknown. Sometimes a specific infection can be found and treated, but generally treatment is symptomatic.

For more information check out: www.vulvodynia.com,
http://www.obgyn.net/CPP/articles/Cracchiolo_0499.htm

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