What is clitorodynia (clitoral pain)?

Clitorodynia is a term for pain in the clitoris. The clitoris is a pleasure organ located in front of a woman’s vagina that contains thousands of nerve endings and can result in orgasm when stimulated. But some women may experience chronic pain in their clitoris during sexual stimulation and even during daily activities.

Not much is known about clitoral pain. It might be associated with provoked vestibulodynia (pain at the vestibule or entrance of the vagina), lichen sclerosis (a skin condition), or multiple sclerosis (a disease of the central nervous system).  It has also been linked to trauma, like surgery and vaginal childbirth. In some cases, women with clitorodynia have pain in other genital areas or in the pelvis or hips. In other cases, anatomical issues such as a tight prepuce (or covering) of the clitoris may cause pain. Sometimes, if something such as a hair or abnormal discharge is trapped under the prepuce, a woman may experience clitoral pain.

Women who suffer from clitorodynia describe their pain as tender or throbbing. Episodes may occur two to three times a week and may last for several hours. Certain activities, like prolonged sitting, wearing tight clothing, urinating, and cleaning the area, often make it worse. Daily activities like walking and exercise may become difficult and affect sexual activity as well. Many women with clitorodynia avoid masturbation, foreplay, and intercourse because of it.

Careful examination, evaluation, and treatment by a qualified health care professional can help women with pain. Sometimes, clitorodynia affects emotional wellbeing and relationships, so seeing a counselor or sex therapist can be helpful, too.


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