Vulvodynia Research Activities and Advances

Vulvodynia is a common problem among women, and the pain associated with this disorder can cause not only great physical anguish but also emotional distress. In the absence of effective treatments that can be applied widely, it is important that researchers gain a greater understanding of the disease's causes, develop better treatments, and, if possible, learn how to prevent vulvodynia altogether.

The NICHD conducts and supports research in a variety of areas related to vulvodynia, from basic science to clinical research.

The NIH Research Plan on Vulvodynia (PDF - 747 KB), developed by NICHD in collaboration with other federal, private, and nonprofit agencies and researchers in the field, lays out an agenda for the rigorous scientific research needed to answer questions and fill in knowledge gaps about vulvodynia. The agenda builds on ongoing vulvodynia research and seeks to advance the field by enhancing capacity for conducting research related to vulvodynia. In addition, the plan aims to apprise the research community of scientific goals for vulvodynia research and to foster collaborations among agencies and organizations interested in the topic.

The Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch (GHDB) leads the Institute's research initiatives relative to vulvodynia. Research supported by these Branches includes the following initiatives:

NICHD's Division of Intramural Research also contributes to vulvodynia research through research conducted through several labs in the Program in Reproductive and Adult Endocrinology. These include studies on the underlying physiology, diagnosis, and treatment of reproductive disorders.

  • In 2016, NICHD reissued funding opportunity announcements that are designed to stimulate new research applications in the exploration of etiology, prevention, diagnosis, and therapeutics in the field of vulvodynia:
    • PA-16-102: Multidisciplinary Research in Vulvodynia (R01)
    • PA-16-101: Multidisciplinary Research in Vulvodynia (R03)
    • PA-16-100: Multidisciplinary Research in Vulvodynia (R21)
  • In 2011, NICHD and the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) sponsored a meeting, Vulvodynia: A Chronic Pain Condition—Setting a Research Agenda, to continue focused efforts to understand vulvodynia. More than 75 researchers and members of organizations and agencies interested in the condition took part. This meeting was a key part of the process for developing the NIH Research Plan on Vulvodynia .

NICHD participates in the NIH Pain Consortium, a multidisciplinary, trans-NIH effort to advance the agenda of pain research.

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