Karen L. Musolf, M.D., assistant professor, is the director of the Vulvodynia Clinic, the only one of its kind in the midwest.
Vulvodynia is a pain syndrome of women that is commonly misdiagnosed by physicians, including many gynecologists and family physicians experienced in women's health issues.
Vulvodynia has been shown to be associated with other chronic pain conditions, sometimes referred to as co-conditions. These conditions are thought to have similar causes, as they have been noted to be associated with similar abnormalities in peripheral pain processing, similar abnormalities on functional MRI scanning and similar responses to systemic medication treatments. A partial list of co-conditions includes: fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, migraine headaches, and chronic pelvic pain.
Recent evidence suggests 3-16 percent of women have had prolonged symptoms suggesting this diagnosis, and approximately half of these have ongoing pain. The diagnosis can be made in the office by taking a careful history, ruling out an infectious or dermatologic abnormality clinically or with laboratory confirmation, and, in the vast majority, observing pain to light touch in response to Dacron swab ("Q-tip") pressure at the introitus and/or hymenal remnants.