OBJECTIVE - To assess the effectiveness of nightly application of 5% lidocaine ointment for treatment of vulvar vestibulitis.
METHODS - Over 17 months, we assessed women presenting to our pain clinic for evaluation of introital pain; 61 women met the criteria for vulvar vestibulitis and participated in a treatment trial. We measured daily pain and intercourse-related pain using a 100-mm visual analog scale. We compared ability to have intercourse and pain ratings before and after treatment, and investigated whether prior treatment or gynecologic comorbidities predicted response to treatment.
RESULTS - After a mean of 7 weeks of nightly treatment, 76% of women reported ability to have intercourse, compared with 36% before treatment (P =.002). Intercourse-related pain score was 39.11 (95% confidence interval [CI] 30.39, 47.83) points lower after treatment (P <.001), with a decrease of 10.37 (95% CI 3.53, 17.21) points in daily pain score (P =.004). We found no association between response to prior episodic use of lidocaine and response to nightly therapy with lidocaine ointment. Few patient characteristics predicted response to treatment; however, women with interstitial cystitis and other vulvar conditions were least likely to benefit.
CONCLUSION - Long-term, nightly application of 5% lidocaine ointment shows promise as a treatment for management of vulvar vestibulitis; a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial is warranted.