The incidence of vulvodynia in American women has been reported to be between 8.3% and 16%. However, there is no consistently effective standardized treatment for vulvodynia.
To determine the feasibility and potential effects of using a standardized acupuncture protocol for the treatment of women with vulvodynia.
Main Outcome Measures
The primary outcome was vulvar pain, and sexual function was the secondary outcome. Pain was assessed by the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire, and function was measured by the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI).
Thirty-six women with vulvodynia met inclusion criteria. The women were randomly assigned either to the acupuncture group or to the wait-list control group. The 18 subjects assigned to the acupuncture group received acupuncture two times per week for 5 weeks for a total of 10 sessions.
Reports of vulvar pain and dyspareunia were significantly reduced, whereas changes in the aggregate FSFI scores suggest significant improvement in sexual functioning in those receiving acupuncture vs. those who did not. Acupuncture did not significantly increase sexual desire, sexual arousal, lubrication, ability to orgasm or sexual satisfaction in women with vulvodynia.
This was the first randomized controlled pilot study to examine the use of acupuncture for the treatment of vulvodynia. The acupuncture protocol was feasible and in this small sample appeared to reduce vulvar pain and dyspareunia with an increase in overall sexual function for women with vulvodynia. This study should be replicated in a larger double-blinded randomized controlled trial.
Authors: Schlaeger JM, Xu N, Mejta CL, Park CG, and Wilkie DJ. Acupuncture for the treatment of vulvodynia: A randomized wait-list controlled pilot study. J Sex Med 2015;12:1019–1027.