International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 11, pp 1871–1878 | Cite as

The association of vulvar pain and urological urgency and frequency: findings from a community-based case–control study

  • Ying Sun
  • Bernard L. HarlowEmail author
Original Article


Introduction and hypothesis

Vulvodynia is chronic debilitating burning vulvar pain or pain on contact. Although women who suffer from vulvodynia are more likely than others to experience co-morbid interstitial cystitis (IC) and urinary tract infections (UTIs), few studies have explored whether women with vulvodynia experience adverse urinary symptoms (lower urinary tract symptoms [LUTS]) in the absence of urological pain.


Two hundred and eleven participants with and 226 participants without clinically confirmed vulvodynia completed the Pelvic Pain and Urgency/Frequency (PUF) questionnaire and were scored using all questions, and then a subset of questions relating only to their current frequency and bother of urination during day and night, and the frequency, severity and bother of urgency after voiding. Total, symptom, and bother scores were compared in women with and without vulvodynia, and regression models estimated adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the various LUTS symptoms.


As expected, 40% of women with vulvodynia met the criteria for IC (PUF > 12) compared with 2% without vulvodynia. After excluding questions related to bladder or vulvovaginal pain, women with vulvodynia, compared with those without, were skewed toward higher PUF scores, including being 2.4 times more likely to report usually or always bothered by night-time voiding (95% CI 1.22–4.74), and 18 times more likely to report moderate/severe urgency after urination (95% CI 5.48–64.12).


Women with vulvodynia are substantially more likely to report voiding dysfunction and symptoms of urgency than women with no history of vulvar pain. These findings are independent of comorbid interstitial cystitis or history of UTIs.


Vulvodynia Lower urinary tract symptoms Risk factors Retrospective study 



The authors wish to thank Dr. Elizabeth Lukacz from the University of California San Diego and Dr. Tamara Bavendam from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for their peer review and advice on this article. No fee for this service was incurred. This research was supported by NIH-NICHD-R01 HD058608.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© The International Urogynecological Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyBoston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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