The Relapsing - Remitting Subset (in Vulvodynia)


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Remission of vulvodynia symptoms is common with approximately half of remitters experiencing a relapse within 6-30 months.

Health Rising's survey indicated that a substantial subset of people with ME/CFS get ill then get much better and then get ill again. This study indicates that similar subset occurs in vulvodynia. People who were in more pain and/or were diagnosed with fibromyalgia were more likely to relapse after having a remission.

God knows how these things happen but the fact that a similar pattern appears to exist in vulvodynia- a disease that is sometimes comorbid with ME/CFS - is interesting...

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2016 Jan 11. [Epub ahead of print]Remission, Relapse, and Persistence of Vulvodynia: A Longitudinal Population-Based Study.
Reed BD1, Harlow SD2, Plegue MA1, Sen A1,3.
Author information



Vulvodynia has been considered to be a chronic disorder. We sought to estimate the probability of and risk factors for remission, relapse, and persistence among women screening positive for vulvodynia.

Survey-based assessment in a longitudinal population-based study of women (the Woman to Woman Health Study) who screened positive for vulvodynia and completed at least four follow-up surveys. Outcome measures included remission without relapse, relapse (after remission), and persistence of a positive vulvodynia screen. Multinomial regression was used to assess factors associated with outcomes.

Of 441 women screening positive for vulvodynia during the study, 239 completed 4 additional surveys. Of these, 23 (9.6%) had consistently positive vulvodynia screens, 121 (50.6%) remitted without relapse, and 95 (39.7%) relapsed following remission.

Overall, factors associated with both relapse and persistence (compared with remission alone) included increased severity of pain ever (p < 0.001) or after intercourse (p = 0.03), longer duration of symptoms (p ≤ 0.001), and screening positive for fibromyalgia (p < 0.001).

Factors associated with persistence (but not relapse) included more severe symptoms with intercourse (p = 0.001) and pain with oral sex (p = 0.003) or partner touch (p = 0.04). Factors associated with relapse (but not persistence) included having provoked pain (p = 0.001) or screening positive for interstitial cystitis (p = 0.05) at first positive vulvodynia screen. Demographic characteristics, age at pain onset, and whether vulvodynia was primary or secondary did not predict outcome.

Remission of vulvodynia symptoms is common with approximately half of remitters experiencing a relapse within 6-30 months. Persistence without remission is the exception rather than the rule. Pain history and comorbid conditions were associated with the more severe outcomes of relapse and/or persistence compared with those who remitted only. These findings provide further support that vulvodynia is heterogeneous and often occurs in an episodic pattern.


Well-Known Member
Yes, it's a common pattern in many chronic illness eg in friends with MS & Rheumatoid Arthritis too.

To improve or stabilise your condition needs a lot of discipline and favourable circumstances pacing yourself over a long period. On the other hand the relapses are all too easy to trigger and happen in a short period. :/

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