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What is Vulvar Vestibulitis?

Daniel Liden
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Vulvar vestibulitis is a condition that causes pain and redness in the vulvar vestibule, the area at the entrance to the vagina between the vulva and the vagina. In this condition, the skin and the mucous glands in the skin, known as the lesser vestibular glands, become irritated and inflamed. The condition falls under the category of Vulvodynia, or chronic pain of the vulva that is unexplained by infection or disease.

Many women suffer from vulvar vestibulitis, but the medical community has had little success in treating the ailment. It can occur in women in any age group, from early youth to late in life. Sexual activity seems to have little impact on whether or not one gets the condition; women who are sexually active and women who are not sexually active have reported suffering from the seemingly-causeless genital pain.

In some cases, vulvar vestibulitis seems to be triggered by contact with an object or by sexual intercourse. In other cases, the pain is constant and contact with any object does nothing to improve or worsen the condition. Vulvar vestibulitis often causes dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse. The contact from sexual intercourse causes further irritation and more pain around the vulva, often making intercourse extremely unpleasant for those suffering from the condition.

Pain and redness are the main symptoms of vulvar vestibulitis. Such pain often initially appears after pressure is placed on the vulva, as from tight clothes or from a bicycle seat. The pain typically takes the form of burning, irritation, stinging, or a raw sensation around the vestibular region. The condition is diagnosed after a physical examination and a test of vaginal discharge to rule out infection.

While no absolute cure for vulvar vestibulitis has been discovered, there are several things that those suffering from the condition can do to lessen the pain and discomfort. Wearing cotton underwear, avoiding vulvar irritants, cleaning the vagina, and using lubricants during intercourse can all decrease the constant level of pain. Some patients have had success with various ointments and topical creams that reduce the pain and inflammation. Physical therapy helps some to better handle the pain. Though it is a more drastic step, surgery to remove some of the inflamed tissue has had high levels of success.

Physical health isn't the only concern. People suffering from chronic pain disorders often experience tremendous frustration and depression because they can not experience life at a normal comfort level. This is especially true in the case of vulvar vestibulitis. The inflammation is not only painful, it can strongly affect sexuality as well.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Daniel Liden
By Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden, a talented writer with a passion for cutting-edge topics and data analysis, brings a unique perspective to his work. With a diverse academic background, he crafts compelling content on complex subjects, showcasing his ability to effectively communicate intricate ideas. He is skilled at understanding and connecting with target audiences, making him a valuable contributor.
Discussion Comments
By anon1003180 — On May 15, 2020

On what part of your vagina do you put the Vaseline? The outside of the vagina or the inside? I have been diagnosed with vulvar vestibulitis too and I'm in chronic pain. And what type of Vaseline? Thank you very much.

By anon142828 — On Jan 14, 2011

I have recently been diagnosed with vulvar vestibulitis after months of believing I had cystitis, taking antibiotics and even having surgery for cystitis to no effect. Because I am in the early stages of pregnancy I cannot take the recommended medications to treat the V.V. condition at this point in time. However, I have found, applying vaseline after a shower each morning has provided 99 percent relief. I feel normal again.

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden, a talented writer with a passion for cutting-edge topics and data analysis, brings a unique perspective to...
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