Skip Navigation
  Print Page

What causes vulvodynia?

Skip sharing on social media links
Share this:

Health care providers do not know what causes vulvodynia. It tends to be diagnosed when other causes of vulvar pain, such as infection or skin diseases, are ruled out. Researchers speculate that one or more of the following may cause or contribute to vulvodynia:1

  • Injury to or irritation of the nerves that transmit pain and other sensations from the vulva
  • Increased density of the nerve fibers in the vulvar vestibule
  • Elevated levels of inflammatory substances in the vulvar tissue
  • Abnormal response of vulvar cells to environmental factors
  • Altered hormone receptor expression in the vulvar tissue
  • Genetic factors such as susceptibility to chronic vestibular inflammation, susceptibility to chronic widespread pain, or inability to combat vulvovaginal infection
  • Localized hypersensitivity to Candida or other vulvovaginal organisms
  • Pelvic floor muscle weakness or spasm

  1. NICHD. (2011). Research plan on vulvodynia. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/Documents/Vulvodynia_Plan_Final2.pdf (PDF - 681 KB) [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 04/22/2013
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology