Demographics

A woman can develop vulvodynia at any time in her life, but studies report that the majority of afflicted women are of reproductive age. Sixty-five percent of Friedrich's patients (24) were between the ages of 20 and 40, and Harlow and Stewart's studies (16) indicate that cumulative incidence is greatest before age 25.

Historically, almost all women who sought care for unexplained vulvar pain were reported to be Caucasian (24,37,38). A case-control study by Dalton et al. (38) found that vulvodynia patients were more likely to be Caucasian relative to those without vulvodynia. It is thought that this heterogeneity is a function of the populations studied and not truly representative of those affected by the condition; population-based studies would address this concern. The initial work of Harlow et al. (17) in Boston failed to find racial disparities for chronic genital discomfort, but later study of Harlow and Stewart (16) suggests that vulvodynia is equally prevalent in Caucasians and African Americans, with Hispanics 80% as likely to experience symptoms.

To better understand vulvodynia in the African American community, Reed's web-based survey oversampled African American women. Consistent with the later findings of Harlow and Stewart (16), Reed et al. failed to identify Caucasian and African American racial disparities in the prevalence of vestibular pain and dyspareunia. Again, the low response rate obtained by Reed et al. justifies additional national studies to further examine and describe the ethno-racial composition of vulvodynia.

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