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J Reprod Med. 2014 Mar-Apr;59(3-4):134-8.

Assessing severity of pain in women with focal provoked vulvodynia: are von Frey filaments suitable devices?



To determine whether von Frey filaments are effective in the standardized assessment of the severity of focal provoked vulvodynia (FPV) syndrome.


The data of 30 women with FPV attending monthly at our vulvovaginal disease clinic, for a collective total of 141 visits over 6 months, were analyzed. At each visit sensitivity tests at the vulvar vestibule were performed at the 5 and 7 o'clock area, totaling 282 measurements. A questionnaire, blinded to the examining physician, and a visual analogue score (VAS) of pain ranging from 1 (no pain) to 10 (maximal pain) was obtained of the discomfort felt when attempting sexual intercourse.


The VAS, the investigator assessment of redness, and the 1 to 10 score result of the cotton swab touch test at 5 and 7 o'clock were superior diagnostic tools for assessing the severity of the pain when compared to the use of von Frey filaments.


Although elegant because of the promise of objective, semiquantitative measurements, von Frey filaments are less suitable devices to assess severity of disease and response to treatment than are cotton swab 1 to 10 pain scores and clinical parameters like subjective pain (VAS) and objective focal redness.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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