Chronic vulvar pain a reality for more than 100,000 women in southeast Michigan

September 14, 2011 by Lauren McLeod, University of Michigan

For more than 100,000 area women, chronic vulvar pain (pain at the opening to the vagina) is so severe it makes intercourse, and sometimes sitting for long periods of time, painful, if not impossible.

A new study from the University of Michigan, which surveyed 2,269 in the metro Detroit area, found that more than 25 percent of women have experienced ongoing vulvar pain at some point in their lives. However, only two percent of women sought treatment for their pain.

For some, vulvar pain may be caused by activities like biking, tampon use, or , and for others it can be a persisting, spontaneous pain that can persist for up to 40 years.

Vulvodynia is characterized by a burning, irritation, or sharp pain near the opening of the . The location, constancy and severity of the pain vary among women. Some women say they feel a slight discomfort, while others claim to suffer from knife-like pain. Common treatments, including topical creams, are typically directed towards alleviating symptoms and usually only provide partial .

The study, available online ahead of print in the , found that aside from the 9.2 percent of women who reported that they were currently experiencing pain consistent with vulvodynia, an additional 17.9 percent of women reported they have experienced symptoms of vulvodynia in the past.

That factors to over 318,000 women in southeast Michigan alone.

"What this means for area women is that vulvar pain is common, it has a name, and it can be addressed with their physicians," says Barbara D. Reed, M.D., M.S.P.H, a professor of at the U-M Medical School and lead author of the study.

What researchers have found concerning is that of the two percent of women who sought treatment for their pain, five percent received a diagnosis of vulvodynia. Many women were misdiagnosed with either yeast infections or estrogen deficiency and the subsequent treatment plans they were recommended did little to alleviate their pain, suggesting these may not be causing their symptoms.

The primary goal of the study was to gain insight on the demographics of women with vulvar pain suggesting vulvodynia. Based on survey responses, researchers were able to determine the ethnicities and ages of those women with vulvar discomfort, as well as the intensity of the they experienced.

"With this knowledge, we better understand how common this disorder is, and who is likely to be affected. Knowing this should make it easier for medical providers to expect to see women with this problem, and will therefore make the diagnosis earlier so that treatment can proceed," Reed says.

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1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2011
Could this be something environmental or genetic? Or could it be an unknown pathogen?

Or are these numbers statistically reasonable compared to other types of localized chronic pain?

I have heard of this before on one of those weird mystery diagnosis shows, or something anyway. There was this married couple where it got so bad for the woman that they couldn't have sex at all any more. Not just the sex either, but like everything she did hurt. I felt sorry for her.

I wonder why there are so many documented illnesses lately that seem to have very little historical precedent?

Are people getting "new" illnesses for some reason?

Are these women's parents or siblings abusing them when they were children, and they are afraid to admit it?

What is causing this?


1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2011
I have "pins and needles" from time to time all over my face, scalp, hands, feet and body. I think it's related to high blood pressure or diabetes, but I can't afford medical help right now.

It really is like a knife or a bunch of needles when it happens, so it made me think of it when I saw the description here for these poor women.

Maybe there is some sort of connection?

Heavy Metal poisoning or some other pollutant?
Asbestos? Can that cause mutation in children?
genetics/epigenetics from mutagens in the father or mother's environment?

No idea, just saying.

It seems this stuff is becoming more and more common, and see also the article there which shows how much diabetes is now. I don't think food alone is causing that. The American and European diets haven't changed THAT much in the past generation or two.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2011
For some reason, I can't get the nagging feeling that the Manhattan project is somehow related to the frequency of these "new" illnesses, especially the year 1944. There were a LOT of people exposed directly and indirectly to radiation during the early years of the atomic age, and we still have a lot of radioactive waste in ground water and even in the air from the bombs and early reactors.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2011
This is God's ongoing punishment for the Original Sin committed by Eve.

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