About Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia is a term used to describe chronic pain (lasting at least 3 months) of the vulva that does not have a clear cause, such as an infection or cancer.1 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.1
  • Provoked vulvodynia is pain triggered by an activity or contact with the area, such as having sex, using a tampon, having a gynecological exam, or even wearing tight-fitting pants. Alternatively, spontaneous vulvodynia occurs when the pain is not initiated by any known trigger.2
  • Provoked vestibulodynia is vulvodynia with provoked pain that occurs in the vestibular region of the vulva, or the entry point to the vagina. This condition has formerly been called vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, focal vulvitis, vestibulodynia, or vulvar vestibulitis.2



  1. National Vulvodynia Association. (2016). Vulvodynia: A common and under-recognized pain disorder in women and female adolescents - Integrating current knowledge into clinical practice. Retrieved May 27, 2016, from https://cme.dannemiller.com/articles/activity?id=570&f=1 external link
  2. National Vulvodynia Association. (2012). What is vulvodynia? Retrieved May 27, 2016, from http://www.nva.org/what-is-vulvodynia/ external link
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