What is Vulvodynia?

Natural Vulvodynia Treatment in Los Angeles

Vulvodynia, simply put, is chronic vulvar pain without an identifiable cause. The location, constancy and severity of the pain vary among sufferers. Some women experience pain in only one area of the vulva, while others experience pain in multiple areas. The most commonly reported symptom is burning, but women’s descriptions of the pain vary.  According to the fact sheet from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Vulvodynia is pain that lasts three months or longer.” (FAQ127, 2017).  It is said that vulvodynia affects up to 15% of women and researchers don’t know why.

How is it treated?

The current treatment for this condition is multifaceted.  According to UCLA’s Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, “No one therapy has been proven successful and up to 50% of women, even after treatment of vulvodynia, continue to experience pain that interferes with general functioning and can prevent sexual intercourse (About CNSR, n.d.).  The treatments range from biofeedback, pelvic floor therapy to hormonal creams and topical pain creams.  There is even a surgery where they remove the vestibule called a vestibulectomy.

Acupuncture can help Vulvodynia

There is emerging evidence that acupuncture can provide relief from this condition. At Natural Healing & Acupuncture, we have treated this condition with good success.  

Why not try acupuncture?  Here are a few studies to read. They are preliminary and small studies but show promise.

For help with pain caused by vulvodynia, please call our offices at 310-473-7474 to set up an appointment. Serving Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and all of L.A. County.


In one pilot Scandinavian study in 2001, when a small number of women had acupuncture one-two times per week for 10 times they reported less pain and better quality of life.  Measurements were all significantly higher after both the last acupuncture treatment and three months later, compared to before the treatment was started. (Danielsson, 2001).

    According to a 2014 review study in Chinese medicine, American guidelines for treatment of vulvodynia do not support usage of acupuncture whereas the British guidelines supports usage of acupuncture.  The researchers concluded that “there is insufficient data to argue for the efficacy of acupuncture for treatment of unprovoked vulvodynia, and no data on the efficacy of acupuncture for treatment of provoked vulvodynia.” They wrote that there needs to be well-designed and performed trials of acupuncture for treatment of vulvodynia (Nwanodi,2014).

In a 2015 pilot study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine,researchers found that when patients received acupuncture two times per week for 5 weeks for a total of 10 sessions the reports of vulvar pain and dyspareunia were significantly reduced (Schlaeger,2015).

In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the researchers broke vulvodynia into two different TCM patterns; one heat and one cold and found that there might be a difference in how the women in the study experienced pain but further studies with a larger number of people need to be done (Schlaeger,2017).

Right now the National Institute of Health (NIH) has a study on acupuncture and vulvodynia  by NIH McLean Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, PLC because  16% of women are impacted. This study will compare two groups of acupuncture treatments with the standard of care of physical therapy, pain medications, and nerve blocking. (Fan, 2018)

If you are looking for alternatives for treating vulvodynia, give acupuncture and Chinese medicine a try.  


  1.  About CNSR – UCLA Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience.(n.d.).  Retrieved from http://uclacns.org/about-cnsr/
  2. Danielsson, I., Sjöberg, I., & Östman, C. (2001). Acupuncture for the treatment of vulvar vestibulitis: A pilot study. Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica,80(5), 437-441. doi:10.1080/j.1600-0412.2001.080005437.x
  3.  Fan AY, Alemi SF, Zhu YH, Rahimi S, Wei H, Tian H, He D, Gong C, Yang G, He C, Ouyang H. ( 2018), Effectiveness of two different acupuncture strategies in patients with vulvodynia: Study protocol for a pilot pragmatic controlled trial. Journal of  Integrative Medicine  2018. pii: S2095-4964(18)30103-1. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2018.10.004. [Epub ahead of print]
  4. FAQ127( 2017),  American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq127.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20181026T1753255104
  5.  Nwanodi, O. B., & Tidman, M. M. (2014). Vulvodynia Treated with Acupuncture or Electromyographic Biofeedback. Chinese Medicine,05(02), 61-70. doi:10.4236/cm.2014.52007
  6.  Schlaeger, J. M., Xu, N., Mejta, C. L., Park, C. G., & Wilkie, D. J. (2015). Acupuncture for the Treatment of Vulvodynia: A Randomized Wait-List Controlled Pilot Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine,12(4), 1019-1027. doi:10.1111/jsm.12830
  7.  Schlaeger JM, Cai HY, Nenggui X, Steffens AD, Lin W, Wilkie DJ( 2017). Do Vulvodynia TCM Patterns Differ by Pain Types? Beginning Evidence Supporting the Concept.TheJournal of  Alternative Complementary  Medicine, 23(5):380-384. doi: 10.1089/acm.2015.0353.