The National Institutes of Health has launched a campaign to raise awareness of vulvodynia (chronic vulva pain), a little understood and even less discussed aspect of women’s health. According to an NIH press release:
The NIH Office of Research on Women Health (ORWH) hopes by combining forces with partners such as advocacy groups, health care practitioners, research organizations, and federal and non-federal entities, there will be increased awareness and understanding of this important medical condition for women.
While greater awareness of the condition, for which there is no known cause and no definitive treatment, is likely needed among both women and their healthcare providers, the campaign appears to be awareness-only, with no major research funding component. A search of the CRISP database of federally funded research reveals only about 9 distinct awarded grants on the topic in the past ten years.
I also cringed a bit to find the campaign materials introducing vulvodynia as “also referred to as ‘the pain down there’ or ‘feminine pain,’ before providing a real definition of the condition. If we’re going to begin to openly discuss this issue, we’re going to have to move beyond “down there” language.
Some resources on the topic:
- Vulvodynia and Women’s Health Toolkit
- National Vulvodynia Association