The pain of vulvodynia can occur unprovoked or it can be triggered by direct contact. It can be constant or intermittent, mild or excruciating, and it can last for 6 months or longer. Childbirth, physical trauma, past surgery, scarring, and certain neurological conditions are known to activate vulvodynia.
The actual cause has eluded researchers but a genetic, hormonal, muscular, or neurological component that causes nerves to become overstimulated, overabundant, or entangled has been proposed. Some researchers have suggested that whatever is at work with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome is at work here, causing intense and frequent firing of nerve signals.
Although it is not caused by infection or sexually transmitted diseases, people with vulvodynia may have a reaction that heightens the response to irritants like infections that produce an overload of immune chemicals to affect nerve function.
Watch as Dr. Jennifer Ashton and Dr. Oz discuss the other causes of vulvodynia in this video.