The aim of the study was to describe a debilitating postmenopausal condition of continuous burning genital pain that remitted with prolonged estrogen focused on the vulvar vestibule.
Postmenopausal patients with constant genital pain seen by the author in a specialty vulvar health clinic comprised an institutional review board-approved descriptive case series. Examinations to localize pain used 4% lidocaine topical solution. Each patient received estradiol nightly as vestibule crème or constantly by transdermal route and was followed by serial examinations and follow-up telephone contact. Statistical tests included Student t test, Fisher exact test, and Pearson correlation coefficient.
Between 2008 and 2016, 16 women presented with constant genital pain that was partly or fully extinguishable with topical vestibular lidocaine, and their pain slowly responded to prolonged vestibule-directed estradiol therapy. The mean age was 66.8 years (± 11.2). The mean pain score was 5 (range = 2-10 on a 0-10 scale). Seven (44%) characterized their pain as debilitating, and 13 (81%) had accompanying urinary symptoms. In 9 patients (56%), ovaries had been removed before natural menopause at ages 27-50 years (mean = 39), followed by minimal or no estrogen therapy. Prolonged estrogen therapy eliminated constant pain in 69% and mitigated it in 31%.
Information about this severe but remediable condition that is associated with lack of estrogen may guide specialists who are treating complex vulvar pain. The patients’ clinical histories and therapeutic courses invite a review of estrogen receptor physiology related to urogenital pain conditions.