Vestibulodynia refers to pain in the entrance of the vagina, known as the vestibule. This is the area where the outside portion of a woman’s genitals (the vulva) meets the internal portion (the vagina). The vestibule contains glands that provide vaginal lubrication during sexual arousal.
For a woman with generalized vestibulodynia, the pain is constant.
A woman with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) has pain when the area is touched. This may occur when she inserts a tampon, has a pelvic exam with her gynecologist, or engages in sexual activity.
Pain intensity and type can vary from woman to woman. The area may be sore or tender when touched. There might be a sharp or burning pain. Some women are able to have intercourse. For others, the pain is too severe.
PVD can cause a great deal of distress. Women may feel anxious and depressed and lose interest in sex. Their relationships may suffer as a result.
Many issues may cause PVD, including hormonal changes, infections, and tight pelvic floor muscles. Some women have more nerve endings in their vestibule, making the area hypersensitive to touch. Stress responses and genetics may also play a role.
PVD is diagnosed with a “Q-tip test.” A doctor assesses pain by touching the vestibule with a cotton swab. He or she may also conduct a visual exam, analyze a vaginal discharge sample, or test the pelvic floor muscles.
PVD cannot be transmitted to a partner and cannot spread to other parts of the body.
Treatment for PVD varies depending on the cause.