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Vulvodynia: Condition Information

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What is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is a term used to describe chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva refers to the external female genitalia, including the labia ("lips" or folds of skin at the opening of the vagina), the clitoris, and the vaginal opening. Vulvodynia is usually described as burning, stinging, irritation, or rawness.

Sometimes, vulvodynia is described with more specific terms.

  • Generalized vulvodynia is pain or discomfort that can be felt in the entire vulvar area.
  • Localized vulvodynia is felt in only one place on the vulva.
  • Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, vestibulodynia, or simply vulvar vestibulitis is vulvodynia that occurs in the vestibular region of the vulva, or the entry point to the vagina. Sometimes the term provoked vestibulodynia is used instead of vulvar vestibulitis syndrome.1"Provoked" means that the pain is triggered by pressure on the vestibule-such as with sex, using a tampon, having a gynecological exam, or even wearing tight-fitting pants.2

  1. National Vulvodynia Association. (2013). Vulvodynia: An Under-recognized Pain Disorder Affecting 1 in 4 Women and Adolescent Girls—Integrating Current Knowledge into Clinical Practice External Web Site Policy (PDF - 411 KB) [top]
  2. National Vulvodynia Association. (2012). What is vulvodynia? Retrieved March 30, 2012, from External Web Site Policy [top]

Last Reviewed: 04/22/2013
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