Vulvodynia, sexuality and couple relationship: a literature review
Susana Patrícia Lima Oliveira, Daniela Filipa Lima Oliveira, Marta Andrea Ferreira Fernandes, Cláudia Margarida Nascimento Marques, SuzanaCristina Perdigão dos Santos Lucas
Objectives: Through this essay, the author intends to carry out a literature review on the topic “vulvodynia, sexuality and couple relationship”, as it is a contemporary subject that is still much discussed by the scientific society due to its uncertain etiopathogenesis and treatment in general of limited effectiveness. Methods: Bibliographical research on MEDLINE - PubMed publications was made and scientific articles on the keywords “vulvodynia”, “sexuality” and “couples therapy” were gathered and analysed. The bibliographic references of the selected review articles were also reviewed. Results: Vulvodynia is a complex, chronic, and idiopathic medical condition that negatively affects all aspects of women´s well-being as well as their partner´s. Despite female social stigma and difficulties in clinical diagnosis due to the absence of physical signs during a medical examination or non-existing tracking exams or validation, it is estimated that 8% of the population suffers from this disease. This kind of diagnosis is usually based on the exclusion of other causes, supported on a minimum three-month vulvar pain report, and sustained on a positive cotton swab test. Although scientific research is constantly evolving, knowledge about the pathophysiology is currently still scarce. Regarding therapeutics, besides the significant inventory of possible solutions, there isn’t a universal cure and results tend to be insufficient. Conclusions: It stands mandatory to educate a wide range of health care professionals, from primary care to gynaecology, pain medicine, mental and sexual health specialists. It is also essential that this pathology is precociously diagnosed and treated in an efficient multidisciplinary way.