Vulvodynia (vulval pain)

Last updated:

Reviewed by:

Dr Rhianna McClymont

, Lead GP at Livi

Medically reviewed

Vulvodynia, sometimes called vestibulitis, is a condition that causes persistent pain in the vulva. There isn’t usually a clear cause. In some cases, any kind of pressure or touch might be painful. There are a few different ways to treat vulvodynia and relieve the pain.

What is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia affects up to 12% of women of any age, but is most common in women between the ages of 15 and 30 who haven’t had a vaginal childbirth. The pain can impact relationships, lower libido, cause problems with mental health, and affect everyday life. There usually isn’t one simple cause of vulvodynia, and experts still don’t fully understand the condition. 

It’s not always easy to talk about pain and sensitivity around the vulva or vaginal opening. If you’re experiencing pain or a stinging sensation in the vulva, it’s important to speak to a doctor. Without the right care, it’s possible that the pain could worsen over time, but there are treatments that can help you find relief. 


Vulvodynia symptoms

Vulvodynia causes

Vulvodynia complications

You may experience other problems alongside vulvodynia, like painful periods, vaginismus (when the muscles around the vagina tighten), a painful bladder condition called interstitial cystitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Because of the effect that vulvodynia can have on your daily life, it can also lead to emotional problems like:

  • Sex and relationship difficulties

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Body image problems

  • It can be challenging to talk about the emotional effect the condition is having on you. But it’s a good idea to discuss these issues with a doctor if you can. They’re here to listen and will be able to offer help and support.

Diagnosis and treatment for vulvodynia

Lifestyle changes to help vulvodynia

When to speak to a doctor

Last updated:
Reviewed by:
Lead GP at Livi Dr Rhianna McClymont
Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi

Get expert tips from our doctors

Sign up to get the best of our health content delivered right to your inbox.