The exact cause of vulvodynia is not known. It may be due to:

  • An injury from things like an infection or an allergy
  • A problem with how the body responds to pain
  • Emotional or mental stress

Risk Factors

Vulvodynia is more common in women who are 20 to 40 years of age.

Other things that may raise the risk are:



The main symptom is vulvar pain that lasts more than three months.

A woman may have:

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Soreness
  • Aching
  • Pain after pressure is applied to the vaginal opening
  • Pain with sex or inserting tampons


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. A pelvic exam may also be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Tests may be done to rule out other causes of the pain.



The goal of treatment is to ease pain. Options are:

Supportive care may include using:

  • Mild soaps
  • Cold packs
  • Lubricants during sex

Medicine may be given, such as:

  • Topical medicines that are put on the skin, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, or anesthetics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antiseizure medicine

Physical therapy may be needed to help strengthen and relax the pelvic muscles to ease pain.

Mental health counseling may also be needed to learn new ways to cope with pain.

Procedures may include:

  • Botulinum toxin injections
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Surgery to remove painful tissue


There are no current guidelines to prevent vulvodynia.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.