Espère's 'brief' guide to Vulvodynia


What is Vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is the term used to describe women who experience the sensation of vulval burning and soreness in the absence of any obvious skin condition or infection, usually as a consequence of irritation or hypersensitivity of the nerve fibres in the vulval skin. The sensation of burning and soreness of the vulva can be continuous (unprovoked vulvodynia) or on light touch to the vestibule (entrance to the vagina) e.g. from sexual intercourse or tampon use (provoked vulvodynia or vestibulodynia). Many women have symptoms which overlap between both conditions.


The main symptom of persistent pain in and around the vulva and vagina can vary from mild discomfort to a severe constant pain which can prevent sitting down comfortably and have a detrimental effect on day-to-day functioning – sleeping, working and sexual intercourse. Itching is not usually a feature of the condition.

The pain may be:

  • burning, stinging, throbbing or sore
  • triggered by touch, such as during sex or when inserting a tampon
  • constantly in the background
  • worse when sitting down


It is likely that a number of factors cause vestibulodynia, but often no identifiable cause can be found. Some women have a sudden onset of symptoms following a specific event; commonly a severe attack of thrush followed by topical anti-thrush treatment, or after giving birth. For a minority of women with vulvodynia, back problems such as slipped discs can cause spinal nerve compression and cause referred pain to the vulval area.

 Can you pass Vulvodynia on?

Vulvodynia is not a sexually transmitted infection and cannot be passed on to a partner. It is not a form of vaginismus (involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles), though vaginismus can develop as a response to pain. It is a medically-recognised physical condition and does not have a psychological cause. The symptoms of vulvodynia are often mistaken for thrush and repeated use of topical anti-thrush treatments can make the condition worse.

 What can cause flare-ups?

Vulvodynia can be provoked or unprovoked. In provoked vulvodynia the vestibule (vaginal opening) is the most frequently affected site of provoked vulvodynia. The pain is provoked by sexual or non sexual touch on the vestibule, such as: sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), inserting tampons, tight clothing or cycling. With unprovoked vulvodynia pain is not triggered by external factors.


Treatment is usually a combination of a number of options including, strong steroid ointments, emollients , local anaesthetic creams, psychosexual counselling, pelvic floor physiotherapy and rarely surgery.

 How DermaSilk can help?

DermaSilk can help all women stay healthy, but is particularly useful in managing some of the common health conditions that can severely disrupt women’s lives, often causing physical (and emotional) upset, irritation and pain. The range is proven in clinical trials to significantly reduce the symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus and Recurrent Candidosis (Thrush) and to reduce the frequency of candida recurrences.

DermaSilk may also be of benefit in the management of Vulvodynia and Bacterial Vaginosis, the menopause and other women’s health issues.

A recent clinical study, observing women with vulval discomfort as a result of skin conditions, infections or non-specific vulval pain, showed that at least two-thirds experienced an improvement in social activities, sleeping and sexual relationships through wearing DermaSilk over a four-week period. All participants in the study commented that our briefs had helped their condition. Compared to baseline, the scores for pain, burning and irritation were reduced by an average of 75%, 63% and 65% respectively over the four week period.

For further support, visit:

Pelvic Pain Support Network

The Vulval Pain Society

and sign up to our newsletter to stay updated