Chronic vulvar pain related to irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and interstitial cystitis

Millions of women suffer from unexplained vulvar pain so severe it can make intercourse, exercise and even sitting unbearable.

New research now shows that women with this painful vaginal condition known as vulvodynia are two to three times more likely to also have one or more other chronic pain conditions, including , (musculoskeletal pain) and interstitial ().

These increasingly prevalent chronic pain conditions are known to be underdiagnosed – and the new data sheds more light on how they may also be related, according the University of Michigan Health System study that was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

"Millions of people in the U.S. have chronic pain. This report stresses the need to further study relationships between these types of disorders to help understand common patterns and shared features," says lead author Barbara D. Reed, M.D., M.S.P.H., professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School.

"Chronic pain conditions like these can seriously hamper quality of life and it's imperative that we understand the commonality among them. Results we see in any studies related to one of the conditions, such as regarding etiology, physiology, or treatment, may be relevant to any of others."

Other studies show that are much more prevalent than previously estimated, and there has been growing interest in understanding the patterns of co-occurrence, Reed says.

"Women who have these disorders often see physicians but are not given a diagnosis or are given an erroneous diagnosis and continue to suffer without being treated properly," Reed says. "Until their symptoms have a name, it can be really discouraging because patients begin thinking it's all in their head.

" is starting to get a lot more attention, with more research being done on all of these disorders, as well as combinations of these disorders. I think the identification and treatment of these conditions will continue to improve."

Authors used data from the six-month follow-up survey of the Michigan Woman to Woman study, a population-based cohort of 2,500 adult women in southeast Michigan. An original study found that more than 25 percent of surveyed women in the metro Detroit area have experienced ongoing vulvar pain at some point in their lives but only 2 percent ever sought treatment for their pain.

More information: "Relationship Between Vulvodynia and Chronic Comorbid Pain Conditions:" doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31825957cf

Related Stories

Study Pinpoints Links of Depression with Chronic Pain

date Jun 17, 2009

It is well known that chronic pain and clinical depression go together, but a study in The Journal of Pain, published by the American Pain Society, shows that the connection between pain and depression is strongest in mid ...

Recommended for you

Outpatient uterine polypectomy more cost-effective

date 3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For women with abnormal uterine bleeding and hysteroscopically diagnosed endometrial polyps, outpatient treatment is more cost-effective than inpatient treatment, according to research published ...

Self-hypnosis training doesn't cut epidural use

date May 26, 2015

(HealthDay)—Self-hypnosis training does not reduce women's epidural use during childbirth, according to a study published online May 11 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

ACOG urges expedited partner therapy for some STIs

date May 25, 2015

(HealthDay)—For patients with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, whose partners are unable or unwilling to seek care, expedited partner therapy can be used to prevent ...

German woman, 65, gives birth to quadruplets

date May 23, 2015

A 65-year-old teacher from Berlin has given birth to quadruplets after a pregnancy that was widely criticized by medical professionals because of her age, RTL television said Saturday.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.