Generalised vulvodynia

Author: Vanessa Ngan, staff writer, 2003. Updated by Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, September 2015.

What is generalised vulvodynia?

Generalised vulvodynia is one of the most common types of vulvodynia or vulval pain of unknown cause. It can occur in women of any age. In men, a similar disorder is known as male genital dysaesthesia. It was previously known as dysaesthetic vulvodynia.

Vulvodynia is defined by the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Diseases (ISSVD) as vulvar pain of at least 3 months duration, without clear identifiable cause, which may have potential associated factors.

Generalised vulvodynia describes widespread pain throughout the vulvar region where there is no physical explanation for it. Pain may be present in the labia, clitoris, vestibule, perineum, mon pubis, and inner thighs. Pain may be constant or unprovoked by touch or pressure to the vulva. However activities such as intercourse, bicycle riding, and horse riding may make symptoms worse.

What are the symptoms of generalised vulvodynia?

Patients with generalised vulvodynia may describe intermittent or continuous symptoms, including:

What causes generalised vulvodynia?

By definition, the cause of generalised vulvodynia is unknown. Current theories consider generalised vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome related to hypersensitive nerves. One or more of the following may have a role to play in the development of this condition.

Management of generalised vulvodynia

Women who suffer from generalised vulvodynia require a range of treatments to help overcome their cycle of endless pain. A combination of therapies should be used and may include:

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