Entrance Pain: Vestibulitis (Vulvar Vestibulodynia)
Vaginal penetration pain, or vaginal entrance pain. Pain in this region when "provoked" (trying to insert any object into the vagina) is most commonly due to a condition popularly known as vestibulitis. Vestibulitis is thought to be caused by highly sensitized nerve endings being contributed to by other pelvic pain triggers. This condition is frequently misdiagnosed as vaginal infections.
But let's back up. What do we call the vaginal opening anyway? If I had known more terms in my own research for answers, I may have gotten a bit farther a bit sooner.
Vocab Lesson 1: What is the vaginal opening? The vaginal opening is known as the vestibule. The vestibule contains large amounts of pain receptors.
Vocab Lesson 2: So then where is the vagina? The vagina is actually muscular tubing inside the female reproductive system that runs from the external genitalia to the cervix.
Vocab Lesson 3: If that's the vagina then what do we call the external genitalia? The entirety of the female external genitalia (including the vestibule) is called the vulva.
Vocab Lesson 4: So if I have pain at the vaginal opening... ahem.. I mean the vestibule... then what is that called? Pain in the vestibule is called Vulvar Vestibulodynia or Vulvar Vestibulitis (or you might hear it called just vestibulitis).
Vocab Lesson 5: What if my pain occurs in other areas "down there" or seems to be spontaneous instead of provoked? Chronic pain anywhere in the region of the vulva (as far back as the rectal opening and as far forward as the clitoris) is known as vulvodynia. Vulvodynia has two categories.
1: Vulvar Vestibulodynia (see Lesson 4) and
2: Generalized Vulvodynia
Generalized Vulvodynia is unprovoked pain. It is relatively constant and often described as burning or sore. It can occur in just one specific area or in multiple areas around the vulva. It is less common and more difficult to successfully treat. Pain emanating from the pudenal nerve may be a significant contributor to this condition in some cases (pudendal neuralgia).
So that's the vocab lesson for now in vaginal penetration pain, or vaginal entrance pain. Want to understand more pelvic and genital pain related vocab? Go to the Glossary.
Stephanie Yeager: Passionate about spreading the word of hope and healing for those like her, influencing a paradigm shift in the medical community toward greater understanding of chronic pelvic pain disorders, and prevention initiatives that may protect young women before onset can occur.