Vulva pain gold coast gynaecology
Back to blog
  • Gynaecology
  • 10.05.24

What causes vulva pain?

It’s time to talk about something that doesn’t get much airtime: vulva pain. It’s a condition that is more common than you might think, affecting many women across Australia. 

If vulva pain lasts more than a couple of months, it’s called vulvodynia. Vulva pain can affect you both physically and emotionally and interfere with your everyday life.  Let’s break the silence and explore what vulva pain is, the causes, the symptoms and the treatment options. 

What is vulva pain? 

Vulva pain is discomfort or pain in the vulva, including the external genitalia – the labia, clitoris and vaginal opening and can affect women of all ages. The level of pain can vary and be consistent or inconsistent. Vulva pain can affect women in different ways, from just mild irritation to debilitating pain. 

Some common symptoms of vulva pain include burning or stinging, soreness, itching, pain during sexual activity and discomfort in the vulva region.  

Types of vulva pain

There are four types of vulva pain:

Generalised vulvodynia: This can occur spontaneously and can last for months or years. 

Localised vulvodynia: The pain occurs in a certain area of the vulva, for example, the lips of the vagina. The pain can come and go. 

Cyclic vulvitis: This type of vulva pain fluctuates with a woman’s menstrual cycle, generally getting worse before menstruation. 

Vestibulodynia: This pain is centralised around the opening, or vestibule, of the vagina. 

What causes vulva pain? 

Unfortunately, vulva pain is still not fully understood. However, vulva pain can be linked to specific conditions such as: 


Yeast infections, bacterial infections, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause vulva pain. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial in addressing these issues.

Hormonal changes

Fluctuations in hormonal levels, such as those occurring during menopause or pregnancy, can contribute to vulva pain.

Allergies and irritants

Allergic reactions to certain fabrics, laundry detergents, soaps, or other personal care products can lead to vulva discomfort.

Musculoskeletal issues

Conditions affecting the muscles and joints in the pelvic region may contribute to vulva pain. Pelvic floor dysfunction is one example.

Neurological factors 

Nerve-related disorders, such as pudendal neuralgia, can result in chronic vulva pain. 

Physical or sexual trauma

The vulva’s nerve endings can be damaged during childbirth, sexual abuse or sex without enough lubrication. Other activities like bike riding or horseback riding can also damage nerve endings and tissue.

How to diagnose vulval pain

During an examination, your Grace Private GP or gynaecologist will ask about your medical and sexual history. They will ask if you have received treatment for vaginal infections, if your pain intensifies during sexual activity, and if you are dealing with vaginal dryness. 

A pelvic exam may be performed to detect signs of inflammation or infection. Your GP or gynaecologist may also take a tissue sample for bacterial or yeast infection testing. Using a cotton swab, they will gently probe the vaginal area to determine whether your pain is widespread or localised to a specific spot.

Treatment for vulva pain

The treatment of vulva pain will depend on the cause. Your GP or gynaecologist may recommend:

Treatment plans: Pain medication, physical therapy, counselling, or lifestyle changes. For infections, antifungal or antibiotic medications may be prescribed. 

Pain management techniques: Learning to manage and cope with chronic pain is a crucial aspect of treatment. Techniques such as pelvic floor physical therapy, relaxation exercises, and cognitive-behavioural therapy can be beneficial.

Lifestyle changes: Avoiding irritants, using hypoallergenic products, and maintaining good hygiene can help alleviate symptoms.

Support with vulva pain at Grace Private

Dealing with vulva pain can be challenging and have a significant impact on your life. Talking about your issues and seeking professional help is essential so you can receive an accurate diagnosis and start an appropriate treatment plan. If you’re experiencing vulva pain, visiting a specialist, such as a gynaecologist at Grace Private, can provide the expertise needed for comprehensive care. Ask your GP for a referral today.  

  • Categories:
  • Gynaecology