Vulvodynia is chronic vulvar discomfort or pain, especially that characterized by complaints of burning, stinging, irritation or rawness of the female genitalia. Burning sensations are the most common, but vulvodynia pain is highly individualized. The condition varies in persistence and location. Pain may be constant or intermittent, localized or diffuse. In many cases of vulvodynia, pain occurs spontaneously. Vulvar vestibulitis, a type of vulvodynia, refers to pain experienced only when pressure is applied to the vestibule, the area surrounding the entrance to the vagina. Dyspareunia is pain experienced on sexual intercourse.
Vulvodynia, as with most chronic pain conditions, has a profound impact on quality of life. It often affects ability to engage in sexual activity and can impair ability to work, engage in physical activity and participate in social life. These limitations can negatively affect self-image and may sometimes lead to depression.
The cause is unknown and may be the result of multiple factors, such as: nerve injury, hypersensitivity to candida, environmental irritants, high levels of oxalate crystals in the urine or spasm of muscles that support the pelvic organs. It is believed by some to be an autoimmune disease or concommitant with other autoimmune diseases.