Dr. Goldstein explains if all sexual pains a woman experiences are referred to as vulvodynia.
Vulvodynia is a broad term. There are more specific terms; there can be disorders of the vulva. The vulva is the anatomic location from say the thigh skin to the labia majora and including the outside of the labia minora; from the labia minora, or at least half of the inside part of the labia minora, to the hymen – that’s the vestibule, and from the hymen in is the vagina.
So there can be many different locations of sexual pain but if it can be localized to the vestibule for example, vestibulodynia would be a more important term. The importance of vulvodynia as a term as we are starting to understand the anatomy, the vulva is basically derived from skin; the vagina is derived from the Mullerian duct, but this third embryologic type, which is the tissue from the inside of the labia minora to the hymen is the vestibule. That’s actually derived from the urinary system and it’s a tissue that does not respond well to injury. It’s just a U-shaped piece of tissue that’s maybe a centimeter wide and it’s U-shaped and it causes huge pain and discomfort to women.
So the vestibule, which is embryologically from the urinary system, is actually the cause of many women’s vulvodynia.
About Dr. Irwin Goldstein, M.D.:
Dr. Irwin Goldstein is Director of San Diego Sexual Medicine at Alvarado Hospital, the Secretary of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, a former President of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America and a Clinical Professor of Surgery at University of California at San Diego.
Dr. Goldstein has been involved with sexual dysfunction research since the late 1970s. His specialties include penile microvascular bypass surgery, surgery for dyspareunia, physiologic investigation of sexual function in men and women, and diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in men and women.