Introduction

Vulvodynia is a multifactorial chronic pain condition (1) that may affect up to 28% of women at some time during their lifetime (2). Prevalence figures for premenopausal women are as high as 12%. Characterized by symptoms of vulvar burning and pain (3), vulvodynia is an idiopathic condition that is not well understood. Historically, much of what was known about vulvodynia originated from case reports and studies conducted in clinical populations, resulting in controversy regarding its classification, diagnosis, and management. In the late 1990s, increased research funding, especially that awarded by the National Institutes of Health, provided support for structured scientific and clinical protocols designed to study the pathophysiology, treatment, and epidemiology of this condition. As more data emerge, it is beginning to appear that vulvodynia is not a highly localized pain disorder confined to the vulva; rather, vulvodynia may be indicative of a more generalized sensory abnormality in affected women.

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