Vulvodynia: Definition, Prevalence, Impact, and Pathophysiological Factors

J Sex Med. 2016 Mar;13(3):291-304. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2015.12.021.


Introduction: Vulvodynia constitutes a highly prevalent form of chronic genital pain in women, and current information regarding its definition, prevalence, impact, and pathophysiologic factors involved is needed.

Aim: To update the scientific evidence published in 2010 from the Third International Consultation of Sexual Medicine pertaining to the definition, prevalence, impact, and pathophysiologic factors of women's sexual pain.

Methods: An expert committee, as part of the Fourth International Consultation of Sexual Medicine, comprised of researchers and clinicians from biological and social science disciplines, reviewed the scientific evidence on the definition, prevalence, impact, and pathophysiologic factors related to chronic genital pain.

Main outcome measures: A review of the definition, prevalence, impact, and pathophysiological factors involved in vulvodynia.

Results: Vulvodynia is a prevalent and highly impactful genital pain condition. Numerous factors have been implicated in its development and maintenance.

Conclusion: What is becoming increasingly apparent is that it likely represents the end point of different factors that can differ from patient to patient. Longitudinal research is needed to shed light on risk factors involved in the expression of vulvodynia, as well as in potential subgroups of affected patients, in order to develop an empirically supported treatment algorithm.

Keywords: Definition; Dyspareunia; Pathophysiologic Factors; Prevalence; Sexual Pain; Vestibulodynia; Vulvodynia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Psychometrics
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Vulvodynia / epidemiology
  • Vulvodynia / physiopathology*
  • Vulvodynia / psychology