Vulvodynia, also known as vulvar vestibulitis syndrome (VVS), is a vulvar disorder described as spontaneous or generalized pain in the vulvar region. It may or may not be associated with pain from intercourse, also known as dyspareunia. Two types of vulvodynia exist: localized and generalized.
Generalized vulvodynia, pain in the entire vulvar area, may be provoked or non-provoked and primary or secondary.
Localized vulvodynia in the vestibular region (the entry point into the vagina) is referred to as vulvar vestibulitis or vestibulodynia. Vestibulodynia is pain at the vulvar vestibule or opening of the vulva. It may be provoked (PVD), which demonstrates pain upon touch, especially during penetration or intercourse, or non-provoked, which is pain at the vestibule at all times that occurs without provocation. Some women have had pain since their first penetration (primary vulvar vestibulitis) while some develop pain after being pain free for a period of time (secondary vulvar vestibulitis).
The exact cause of vestibulodynia remains to be determined. It is not a sexually transmitted disease and not a precursor to cancer. However, some preliminary thoughts that link vulvodynia to these conditions include:
- Past recurrent or chronic yeast infection
- Allergies or hypersensitivity (for example to oxalates in urine)
- Autoimmune disorder that may be similar to lupus erythematosus
- Injury to vulva
- Neuropathy including increased number of nerve endings in the vulvar and vaginal area
- Linkage to lowered dose oral contraceptives
- Genetic inheritance of increased nerve fibers in the vulvar region, or predisposition to inflammation