Primary and secondary vulvar vestibulitis syndrome: Systemic pain perception and psychophysical characteristics

Michal Granot, Michael Friedman, David Yarnitsky, Ada Tamir, Etan Z. Zimmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Women with primary and secondary vulvar vestibulitis syndrome (VVS) report similar vulvar pain symptoms; however, it is not clear whether these subsets have similar pain and psychophysical characteristics. This study evaluated systemic pain perception, cardiovascular measures, and anxiety level in women with primary and secondary VVS. Study design Eighty-nine women were enrolled in the study: 44 had primary vulvar vestibulitis, 45 had secondary vulvar vestibulitis. Their anxiety level was first assessed. Then, heat pain stimuli were applied to the forearm, and pain threshold and pain scores for suprathreshold phasic (44°C-48°C) and tonic (46°C) stimuli were assessed by visual analog scale. Finally, blood pressure was recorded using a volume clamp method before, during, and after a tonic stimulus of 1 minute at 46°C. Results Women with primary vulvar vestibulitis had higher visual analog scale scores for pain perception at 46°C to 48°C, a higher level of trait anxiety 43.3 ± 1.5 versus 37.8 ± 1.5 (P=.010), an increased incidence of dysmenorrhea (χ 2 8.9, P=.003), and lower resting blood pressure: systolic (108.6 ± 2.1 vs 118.9 ± 2.0 mm Hg) (P>.001) and diastolic (59.3 ± 1.6 vs 64.2 ± 1.5 mm Hg) (P=.038). Logistic regression revealed that dysmenorrhea and lower systolic blood pressure are associated with primary VVS. Conclusion Women with primary and secondary VVS differ in their systemic pain perception and psychophysical characteristics. The impact of these findings on treatment modalities should be further evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-142
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Anxiety
  • Blood pressure
  • Heat pain
  • Quantitative sensory tests
  • Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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