How is Vulvodynia Diagnosed

How is Vulvodynia Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of vulvodynia is based primarily upon a women’s history and a clinical exam of the vulva. (See “What to Expect From Your Health Care Provider“). No special investigations and or tests are usually needed. In fact many times, tests such as vaginal swabs are usually normal.

Women who present with complaints of irritation, rawness or discomfort involving the vulva or vagina are often misdiagnosed as having a vaginal yeast “infection”. Physicians and patients rely on vague symptoms and physical signs to diagnose infections of the vagina. However, most physicians and patients cannot accurately tell just by looking whether or not a woman actually has a yeast infection! Subsequently, women with long standing vulvar complaints are often treated over and over again for an “infection” with antifungal and antibacterial medications. These medications do not work and may make the symptoms in fact worse.

Women should be aware that there are many different diseases that can cause vulvar symptoms such as itching, burning and or pain. (See the table below for some common causes of vulvar itch.) Women with chronic symptoms who are referred to clinics specializing in vulvovaginal diseases are usually found to have skin conditions or vulvodynia rather than an infection.

Common Causes of Vulvar Itch

Skin Conditions Infections Pre-Cancer and/or Cancer
  • Vaginal Candidiasis
  • Vaginal Trichomoniasis
  • Vaginal Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Tinea cruri
  • Vulvar Scabies
  • Vulvar Intra-Epithelial Neoplasia or Squamous Cell Carcinoma in situ
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Paget’s disease
  • Melanoma
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia