Vulvodynia is a condition associated with pain in the opening of the vagina. This includes tenderness and profound burning. Vulvar vestibulitis is a related condition marked by redness and inflammation in the vaginal opening.
The cause of these conditions is not understood. Increased sensitivity of the nerves on the skin’s surface may contribute.
Women of all ages experience vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis. Those who have interstitial cystitis, endometriosis and high-tone pelvic-floor muscle dysfunction appear susceptible, but it is unclear whether these diseases trigger vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis or vice versa. Menopause, stress and changes in detergent, soaps or other hygiene products also seem to trigger vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis.
Patients also might feel like they are experiencing recurrent bladder infections, with symptoms such as burning during urination, frequent urination and a strong urge to urinate. However, if they have vulvodynia or vulvar vestibulitis, a lab test will show no infection-causing bacteria in their urine.
They also may develop other pain conditions, such as pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis and fibromyalgia.
Because patients with vulvodynia or vulvar vestibulitis experience many different pain conditions, they sometimes see multiple doctors for treatment. Our doctors have the training to identify these various conditions and offer a spectrum of treatment options.
Vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis are mainly diagnosed through a review of your family medical history and a physical exam. The exam includes the doctor touching different parts of the vulva with a cotton swab to identify pain triggers. Vulvar vestibulitis is diagnosed when a patient has a positive touch test and redness at the opening of the vagina.