Vulvodynia

Wesselmann and colleagues (5,80) classify vulvodynia as a "dynia," a group of well described but poorly understood chronic pain syndromes. Vulvodynia is defined as noncyclic, chronic vulvar discomfort extending to the urethral and rectal areas, characterized by the patient's complaint of burning, stinging, irritation, or rawness (81). Light touch of the vulvar area often exacerbates the ongoing pain. A recent epidemiological study estimated that vulvodynia affects 6-7% of women in the general population, with a higher prevalence in women over the age of 30 (8). The onset of vulvodynia is usually acute, without a precipitating event. When such an event is recalled, it is often linked to episodes of local treatments, such as vulvar cream application or laser surgery (80). Little is known about the etiology of vulvodynia. McKay (82) proposed that the pain results from altered cutaneous perception, such as in neuropathic pain syndromes.

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