What Is Vulvodynia? Why Do I Have Pain “Down There?”


What is causing my pain "down there?"


According to the most recent science, what are the causes of vulvodynia?

Women may feel pain only once in awhile or all of the time, lasting anywhere from months to years. Exercise, like bicycling or horseback riding, sexual intercourse, tampon insertion, tightly fitted pants or prolonged sitting may aggravate pain from vulvodynia. While the cause of vulvodynia is still undergoing research, there are ways to help reduce the frequency and intensity of the pain.

To help reduce irritation, ease pressure, and relieve pain from vulvodynia:

Avoid Potential Irritants:

  • Use dermatologically approved detergent; avoid softener on undies
  • Wear 100% cotton underwear, tampons, and menstrual pads
  • Avoid perfumed soaps, tampons, menstrual pads, contraceptive creams or spermicides
  • Wear loose fitting skirts and pants, avoiding pantyhose
  • Keep the vulva clean and dry; avoid prolonged sitting in a wet swimsuit or damp gym clothes

Ease Pressure:

  • Use a water-soluble lubricant during sex
  • Avoid activities that put direct pressure on the vulva, such as bicycling and horseback riding
  • During prolonged sitting, sit on a foam rubber donut

Relieve Pain:

  • Soak in lukewarm or cool sitz baths
  • After intercourse, apply a frozen gel pack wrapped in a towel
  • Apply topical heat through a heating pad

Please remember that your healthcare provider may be able to offer you additional suggestions in helping to ease your pain and discomfort associated with vulvodynia.


  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia/home/ovc-20341988
  2. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Vulvodynia
  3. https://www.nva.org/what-is-vulvodynia/

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only.

The continued availability of external resources is outside of the NWHN’s control. If the link you are looking for is broken, contact us at nwhn@nwhn.org to request more current citation information.