June 18th, 2018

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Vulvar Dysesthesia (Vulvodynia): A Follow-up Study
Authors:  Barbara D. Reed, M.D., M.S.P.H., Hope K. Haefner, M.D., and Lauren Cantor
  OBJECTIVE: To assess long-term outcome in women treated for vulvar dysesthesia (vulvodynia).

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey via mailed questionnaires of women with vulvar dysesthesia treated at the University of Michigan. Questionnaires addressed symptom characteristics and their predictors, pregnancy response and treatments used. Analysis included t tests, nonparametric tests and multivariate analyses to assess associations between the degree of improvement (in the amount of pain experienced) since diagnosis and potential predictors of that outcome.

RESULTS: Of 234 questionnaires mailed, 104 were completed. Based on a 7-point pain scale (0-6, with 6 indicating excruciating pain), the level of pain at the time of the survey (1.61.3) was significantly lower than that at the time of diagnosis (4.51.5) (P<.0001). Of the 104 women, 56.8% reported >50% improvement in their pain since diagnosis, and the pain had worsened in 1.9%. Greater improvement was noted with higher pain levels at baseline and with a shorter time since onset. The majority of women who had been pregnant since developing vulvar pain reported improvement (30%) or no change (40%) in symptoms during and after pregnancy. Treatments (nonrandom) rated as most effective included antidepressants (used for pain control) and anticonvulsant medications, biofeedback and counseling.

CONCLUSION: Most women with vulvar dysesthesia reported markedly less pain at follow-up, although few reported a "cure." Pregnancy was not associated with worsening of vulvar symptoms for most women. Controlled clinical trials will be needed to elucidate treatments that are most effective. (J Reprod Med 2003; 48:409-416)
Keywords:  dysesthesia, vulvar diseases, vulva
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