Vulvar vestibulitis: Physical or psychosexual problem?

Jacob Bornstein, Doron Zarfati, Zeev Goldik, Haim Abramovici

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine whether vestibulitis has a physical or a psychosexual etiology. Data Sources: MEDLINE was searched to retrieve publications dating from January 1981 through June 1998 that evaluated the outcomes of surgical treatment and the psychosexual theory of the origin of vestibulitis. Integration: Articles were analyzed for methods of subject selection and surgery, surgical outcome, and length of follow-up. Results: A significant decrease in symptoms (complete responses + partial responses) was reported by 89% of 646 women who had perineoplasty for vulvar vestibulitis. Complete resolution of dyspareunia with surgical treatment was reported in 72% of 512 women whose cases were reviewed in studies in which complete responses and partial responses were evaluated separately. Women with vestibulitis did not differ from the normal population with respect to marital satisfaction, psychologic distress, or psychopathology. A suggestion that childhood sexual abuse caused vestibulitis has not been confirmed. The findings of somatization and shyness might be explained as results rather than causes of vulvar vestibulitis. Conclusion: We do not agree that vestibulitis is a psychosexual problem and one that should not be treated surgically. A high rate of success can be achieved with proper surgical treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)876-880
Number of pages5
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes


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