Sexuality is an intrinsic part of our human existence. It is a significant element in each individual’s health and wellbeing. Although a complex phenomenon, sexuality must be seen in the context of a person’s life – their attitudes, relationships, aspirations and socio-cultural values. It can be a source of self esteem, pleasure, love and belonging or a source of pain and despair.
Sexual health is one of the last frontiers of wellness to be studied and recognized within the health care system. The need to address sexual health matters, especially in relation to women’s sexuality, is highlighted by the prevalence of problems reported. One of the most common problems identified is that of urogenital pain and discomfort in the form of vulvodynia. It is a chronic pain syndrome with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 16 per cent.
Vulvodynia affects women of all races, ages, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds and has been identified as one of the most neglected issues in women’s sexual health.
The International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD) defines vulvodynia as unexplained chronic vulvar discomfort occurring in the absence of any evident pathology. Titles such as vulvar vestibulitis, vestibulodynia and vaginismus, are common medical terms that refer to conditions that share one common symptom, that of sexual intercourse pain. Patients commonly describe the pain as burning, rawness or stabbing. The severity of pain symptoms can vary in duration and intensity. It interferes with sexual intimacy, and compromises the individual’s quality of life. The disorder undermines self-esteem, impacts on relationships, and engenders significant psychological distress. Various causes have been theorized and many treatments proposed, but there is no consensus on its classification and management, yet the practical implications of a proper understanding of the disorder are important.
This site has been developed in the hope that it will provide information and encouragement to those affected by this complex condition and provide insight for those involved in the management of the disorder. You are invited to browse through any of the resources provided. The content in these pages will discuss some of the frequently asked questions, consider definitions of terms, explain the classification of vulvodynia, list relevant articles and share numerous case studies of patients written by women who have undergone treatment for vulvodynia.