Objective: To define the demographic and clinical characteristics of women presenting with vulvodynia.
Study design: Vulvodynia patients seen by the author between September 1996 and June 1999 were included in the study. Patients completed a standardized questionnaire and were interviewed and clinically examined.
Results: Three hundred one patients completed the questionnaire. The average age was 38 years old, 72% reported postsecondary education, 54% were nulligravid, and 55% were married. Average duration of symptoms was 38 months. Patients reported dyspareunia (71%), vulvar burning (57%) and vulvar itching (46%). One-third reported problems with sexual response. The majority (64%) reported a "history" of yeast infections. Over 64% of the time all therapeutic interventions tried by patients made the vulvar symptoms no better or worse. Approximately 55% reported another chronic health condition. Positive physical findings were often limited to inflammation in the vestibule (25%) and pain on palpation of the posterior vestibule (69%). Patients reported that their vulvodynia limited their physical activities.
Conclusion: Physicians should approach management of vulvodynia using a chronic pain model that emphasizes multidisciplinary health care and "improvement" in health, rather than single interventions and cure of disease.