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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 Foundation. (2010). Vulvodynia: Integrating current knowledge into clinical practice (4th ed.). Retrieved March 30, 2012, from
    http://learnprovider.nva.org/terminology_classification.html External Web Site Policy [top]
  2. National Vulvodynia Foundation. (2012). What is vulvodynia? Retrieved March 30, 2012, from http://www.nva.org/whatisvulvodynia.html External Web Site Policy [top]

Last Updated Date: 06/28/2013
Last Reviewed Date: 04/22/2013
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