Assessment of vulvodynia symptoms in a sample of US women: A prevalence survey with a nested case control study

Journal: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2007 Feb;196(2):128.e1-128.e6.

Authors and affiliations: Arnold LD, Bachmann GA, Rosen R, Rhoads GG. Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey; Women's Health Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

PMID: 17306651

Objective: Vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome of unknown origin with scant data on frequency. This study assessed the prevalence of vulvodynia symptoms in a sample of U.S. women and compared health characteristics of symptomatic and asymptomatic women.

Study design: A phone survey contacted 2,127 US households to identify 100 symptomatic women, who were matched on age and time zone to 325 asymptomatic controls. Odds ratios (ORs) and logistic regression were used to model associations between pain, medical conditions, and health care utilization variables.


  • Current vulvar pain of at least 6 months duration was reported by 3.8% of respondents, with a 9.9% lifetime prevalence.
  • Forty-five percent of women with pain reported an adverse effect on their sexual life and 27 percent an adverse effect on their lifestyle.
  • Cases more frequently reported repeated urinary tract infections (OR, 6.15; 95% CI, 3.51-10.77) and yeast infections (OR, 4.24; 95% CI, 2.47-7.28).
  • Associations existed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (OR, 2.78; 95% CI, 1.33-6.19), Fibromyalgia (OR, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.06-4.36), depression (OR, 2.99; 95% CI, 1.87-4.80), and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (OR, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.07-3.23).

Conclusion: Lifetime chronic vulvar pain was less prevalent in this national sample of women than previous data suggest and was correlated with several comorbid chronic medical conditions and substantial reduction in self-reported quality of life.

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