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Harefuah. 2006 Mar;145(3):215-8, 244.

[Vulvar pain syndrome (vulvodynia)--dilemmas in terminology].

[Article in Hebrew]

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Western Galilee Hospitalm, Nahariya, The Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Haifa.



In recent years there has been increasing awareness of chronic vulvar pain, both in the medical and lay communities. The etiology of vulvar pain is largely unknown. Furthermore, there is no worldwide consensus regarding the terminology and classification of this condition, which makes it difficult to compare the results of different treatments. In 2003, following more than three decades of uncertainty, the terminology and classification of vulvar pain was re-established.


To review the development of nomenclature for vulvar pain and the increasing understanding of its pathophysiology.


A literature review was conducted of articles related to the nomenclature of vulvar pain and vulvar diseases, and a summary of the world congresses of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD) from 1976 until 2003.


In 1976, members of the ISSVD recognized vulvar pain as a unique entity, and called it burning vulva syndrome. In 1985, the ISSVD renamed this disorder "Vulvodynia" and classified it into two clinically distinctive subsets: dysesthetic vulvodynia and vestibulitis. However, recent studies failed to confirm an inflammatory pathogenesis, and the term vestibulitis was replaced by the term vestibulodynia at the 1999 ISSVD congress. In 2003, the ISSVD reviewed the terminology and used the term vulvodynia, which is further classified as either generalized or localized, and by the presence or absence of stimulus for pain.


The re-establishment of the ISSVD terminology and classification in 2003 will help physicians and researchers improve the understanding of chronic idiopathic vulvar pain, and develop effective treatments.

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