What is Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia was first reported in the medical literature in the late 1800’s.  Since then, many different definitions and terminologies have been used to describe chronic vulvar pain.

In 2015, a multi-society consensus classification defined vulvodynia as vulvar pain of at least three months duration, without clear identifiable cause, which may have potential associated factors.

This consensus definition is the currently accepted definition used in both clinical and research settings: 

🔗Consensus Terminology and Classification of Vulvyodnia.

Therefore, vulvodynia is a diagnosis of exclusion. Nonetheless, it is important to note that individuals may have both a specific disorder (such as lichen sclerosus) in addition to vulvodynia.  

Classification of Vulvar Pain

The classification system is based on a description of the pain.  It is important to know that these are not distinct clinical diagnoses. An individual’s symptoms may fluctuate over time and the descriptors may change.


Localized (e.g., vestibulodynia, clitorodynia) or generalized and mixed (localized and generalized). Most people have pain at only one vulvar site. If the pain is in the vestibule, (the tissue surrounding the vaginal opening) the diagnosis is vestibulodynia.


Provoked (e.g,. insertional, contact) or spontaneous or mixed (provoked and spontaneous).


Primary onset (e.g., pain/discomfort since first vulvar/vaginal awareness) or secondary onset (new onset of pain/discomfort after a period of pain-free penetration).

TEMPORAL PATTERN (intermittent, persistent, constant, immediate, delayed):  

Intermittent - the pain is not present everytime.  For instance, it may worsen during times of stress and improve during vacation

Constant – the pain is present each time

Immediate – pain is felt with as soon as the  trigger occurs, for example, pain is felt with fingers touching the vestibule

Delayed – the pain is felt or worsens after the trigger, for example pain is worse after sexual insertion. Some patients may not feel pain with the initial Q-tip test, but the pain occurs when it is repeated

What is Vulvodynia

What is Micro-Abrasive Blasting?

Micro-Abrasive Blasting is a precision machining technology developed to deburr, clean, texture, and surface treat a variety of materials. It utilizes a compressed air mixed with an abrasive media which is composed of micron-sized particles with sharp edges for cutting or impinging on the work surface. The mixture is propelled through a tiny nozzle (typically with an orifice of between 5 and 30 thousandths) resulting in a high velocity stream. The nozzle can be held by hand using a handpiece or fixtured for an automatic process. The operation is typically start-stop controlled by a footswitch but for larger capacity machines can be set for continuous operation. Micro-Abrasive Blasting is particularly useful to remove material on difficult-to-reach surfaces.

What is the narrowest cut that can be made?

Using a rectangular nozzle having orifice dimensions of .003″ x .060″, at a nozzle tip distance of approximately 1/32″, cuts can be made approximately .005″ wide.

What is required for the system?

In general, a compressed air supply or dry shop air which can be filtered for moisture and oil using Norgren filters supplied by Airbrasive. The compressed air must be 50 to 110 psig. Also necessary for the system depending on the process being performed would be a work chamber to contain the spent abrasive particles and a dust collector. With the exception of the model 6500 Micro-Blasting Unit which is an all-pneumatic device, you will also require a power supply.

Can other abrasives be used?

In general, no. Standard commercial grades of abrasive powders are not suitable for use with these machines since they are not classified close enough to have proper flow or cutting characteristics. Use of commercial grades can cause frequent clogging of the equipment. Furthermore, they may contain free silica or other ingredients that may be harmful to health.

Can the Airbrasive Powder be reused?

No. The spent Airbrasive Powder loses its cutting points and edges and would be very inefficient if re-used. More important, the recovered Airbrasive? Powder may be contaminated which would clog the small orifices within the unit and nozzles. The Airbrasive? Powder should never be re-used.

What is the capacity of the powder holding chamber?

In the Model K Micro-Blasting unit, the powder chamber can hold about 1.5 lbs. of powder. By comparison, the Model HME unit can hold up to 20 lbs. of powder. Refer to the Machine Selection Chart for other models.

How long will a single powder charge last?

This depends on the richness of the Airbrasive mixture which is adjustable through the powder flow controls. For example, at an average flow rate of 5 grams per minute, powder in the Model K units chamber would last approximately 1 hour in continuous operation. In the Model H unit, powder would last approximately 4 hours.

What parts in the system are most subject to wear?

The nozzle tip and pinch tube used in the pinch valve for start-stop operation. Replacement of either of these parts is a simple and quick operation.

What is Airbrasive Jet Machining?

Airbrasive Jet Machining is an effective way to cut, abrade, deburr, deflash, etch, drill, and restore a variety of materials. The Airbrasive Jet Machine is a pneumatic device powdered by forced air. Applications are made possible as the forced air joins with a very fine powder in the attached pressure chamber and a powerful abrasive mixture is produced. The abrasive mixture is then sent through the hand piece and nozzle creating a precise abrasive stream.

Is the Airbrasive Jet Machine easy to use?

The Airbrasive Jet Machine is very easy to use. The hand piece and nozzle have been designed to give the user flexibility and control. As a result, the Airbrasive Jet Machine can be used to create precise cuts or intricate patterns on various metals, glass or plastic, whether on the surface of the object or in the hard-to-reach places that other tools are not flexible enough to reach.

Is the Airbrasive Jet Machine versatile?

The Airbrasive Jet Machine is a versatile tool useful for any creative or automated work environment. Metalworkers, sculptors, etchers, engravers, and dental lab technicians alike enjoy this machine’s boundless potential; a potential only limited by imagination.

How does Airbrasive Jet Machining work?

There are six key factors involved in the machining process. Each factor is a variable that can be altered by the user in order to produce the desired effect:

  1. Air pressure
  2. Powder flow rate
  3. Nozzle size
  4. Nozzle distance to surface
  5. Type of powder
  6. Angle of contact
What is Powder Flow Rate?

Powder flow rate is the amount of powder that leaves the nozzle in one minute equals the powder flow rate. The powder flow rate will be directly related to your chosen air pressure. A higher powder flow rate will result in more precise cuts to your work surface.

Are there different nozzle sizes?

The opening at the tip of the nozzle can be varied depending on the type of work you wish to do. The opening can either be round or rectangular, large or small. A rounded tip will provide the user with the greatest control when doing detailed work. A rectangular shaped tip will allow the user to cover a greater surface area in a shorter period of time.

Does air pressure affect the strength of the abrasive mixture?

Air pressure will directly affect the strength of the abrasive mixture and ultimately, the machine’s ability to cut into various materials. The higher the air pressure, the more agitated the powder mixture will become, producing a stronger stream. Likewise, the lower the air pressure, the gentler the final abrasive mixture. Essentially, how you want to use your Airbrasive Jet Machine will determine the amount of air pressure you will need to use. Please note that for safety reasons, the Airbrasive Jet Machine should never be pressurized beyond 120psi.

I am finding traces of powder around the pinch valve. What is causing this?

It is most likely that you have a worn rubber pinch valve. Inspect and replace the valve. Should further powder be found around the pinch valve after replacement, please call Airbrasive Jet Technologies for assistance.

The powder spraying from my nozzle is losing definition.

Your nozzle is worn. Replace the nozzle.

My clamp will not close properly.

Your clamp is improperly seated. Open your clamp and reseat the chamber.

I have erratic or inconsistent powder flow even though I have continuous air flow from my nozzle.

There are four potential causes to this problem:

  1. Your powder chamber is nearly empty. Refill your chamber. (Note: It is normal to have some residual powder in your powder chamber when refill is required.)
  2. Your powder is contaminated. Discard the contaminated powder and refill your chamber with fresh powder.
  3. Your air supply filter is defective. Repair or replace your filter.
  4. Your powder is not compatible with the nozzle you are using.
I have no air flow at the nozzle even though the unit is “on”, the foot switch is activated, and the pressure indicator is showing that the machine is pressurized. What is wrong?

There are three potential causes to this problem.

  1. Your nozzle is clogged. Check your nozzle. Clean and replace if necessary.
  2. Your pinch valve is inoperative. Inspect the pinch valve and replace if necessary.
  3. Your hose is worn. Inspect your nozzle hose. Replace if necessary.
The powder flow control knob is hard to adjust.

Check to see that powder is not leaking into any mechanism. Disassemble and clean powder from parts. Check parts for wear and replace as required.

The door will not open when the unit is turned off and the indicator is RED.

Your powder chamber is not depressurized due to a clogged bleed filter. Disconnect your air supply hose. The unit will bleed through the pinch valve. The door can then be opened, and filter can be cleaned or replaced.

The door will not open when unit is turned off and the indicator is BLACK.

Your interlock cylinder is jammed in the lock position. Disconnect the air supply hose. Remove the control panel carefully. Check the interlock cylinder. Repair or replace if necessary.

With the power switch turned on the indicator light does not turn red.

There are four potential causes to this problem:

  1. Check your air supply. You may not have air coming into your machine.
  2. You have a defective indicator. It must be replaced. This part is under warranty for five years from the date of purchase by Airbrasive Jet Technologies.
  3. You have a defective on-off switch. It must be replaced. This part is under warranty for five years from the date of purchase by Airbrasive Jet Technologies.
  4. The hose leading to your indicator is disconnected or defective. Inspect and replace if necessary.
There are traces of powder at the air pinch valve.

A possible cause of this problem is a ruptured air pinch valve tube. Inspect and replace tube if necessary.

What is the narrowest cut that can be made?

There are two potential causes of this problem.

  1. Your powder switch is defective. Replace.
  2. You aren’t getting air pressure to the unit. Check your air supply.
The powder spray from the nozzle is not well defined. How do I adjust this?

You are operating with a worn nozzle. Replace the nozzle.

My vibrator is inoperative. What has caused this?

There are three potential causes of this problem.

  1. You have an open rectifier. Inspect and replace if necessary.
  2. You have an open rheostat. Inspect and replace if necessary.
  3. The magnetic coil of the vibrator is burnt out. Replace the vibrator assembly.
With the system power on/off switch in the “ON” position, the switch does not light up.

There are three potential causes of this problem.

  1. Your back panel fuse may be blown. Replace the fuse.
  2. Your on/off switch may be burned out. Replace the switch.
  3. You are not getting input power to your machine. Check the external input power.
I do not have airflow at the nozzle even though the unit is on, the foot switch is actuated, and the pressure gauge is showing pressure.

There are two potential causes of this problem.

  1. Your nozzle tip is clogged. Clean your nozzle tip.
  2. You may have an inoperative pinch valve solenoid. Check solenoid operation. Replace if necessary.
There isn’t any powder flowing from the mixing chamber even though air is flowing through the machine.

Check the orifice plate in the mixing chamber. It is most likely clogged. Remove, disassemble and clean. We also suggest that you inspect your powder supply for moisture contamination which can cause the powder to clump and clog.

I am finding traces of powder at the pinch valve.

It is likely that you have a ruptured pinch tube. Inspect and replace.

What is the narrowest cut that can be made?

There are two potential causes of this problem.

  1. Your nozzle tip is clogged. Clean your nozzle tip.
  2. You may have an inoperative pinch valve solenoid. Check solenoid operation. Replace if necessary.There are two potential causes of this problem.
  3. You may have a shorted foot switch. Check the foot switch and replace if necessary.
  4. You are losing air supply between the pinch solenoid regulator and the pinch valve solenoid. Remove the hose from the bottom of pinch valve and check for air flow. If there is no air flow, try to adjust the pinch solenoid regulator. If there is air flow, remove and check the pinch valve assembly.
The powder spraying from the nozzle is losing definition.

You have a worn nozzle tip. Inspect and replace the nozzle tip.

Key indicators from patients that vulvodynia should be considered by healthcare providers.

Patient reports pain with penile-vaginal intercourse or sexual insertion


Patient reports emotional distress and/or pain with speculum exam

(on vaginal insertion)

Patient reports discomfort with tight clothing or exercise

Patient reports difficulties with tampon insertion due to pain

Patient experiences recurrent symptoms of vaginitis but swabs are negative

Patients may present with more abstract symptoms such as relationship distress or conflict

Vulvodynia Facts

Click the dropdown menus below to expand the menus.

Many people do not mention “pain” to describe their symptoms

Common descriptions include:
  • Stinging
  • Burning
  • Stabbing
  • Rawness
  • Thobbing
  • Tearing
  • Tight
Vulvodynia is known to have a significant impact on mental and sexual health  

Common patient experiences include  
  • Shame
  • Low self-esteem
  • Isolation
  • Hopelessness
  • Beliefs of essential defectiveness of the self, the body, as a partner (romantic and/or sexual)
  • Feel stigmatized and dismissed by physicians and the health care system
  • Relationship conflict, breakdown, and loss; associated grief
  • Avoidance of sexual activity and intimacy all together
  • Engagement in painful sex to maintain relationships, sense of self, and duty to partner/family
Potential factors associated with vulvodynia


The etiology of vulvodynia is still not well understood. The addition of “potential associated factors” to the 2015 definition of vulvodynia is an important inclusion, emphasizing that vulvodynia is a complex chronic pain condition. It is important to recognize that each individual experiences unique factors contributing to their experience of pain. Identifying these unique factors is an important part of vulvodynia assessment. There is no “one size fits all” approach, here is an example of potentail factors associated with vulvodynia:

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal Factors (e.g., pharmacologically induced)
  • Inflammation
  • Musculoskeletal (e.g., pelvic muscle overactivity, myofascial, biomechanical
  • Neurologic mechanisms
  • Central (spine, brain)
  • Psychosocial factors (e.g., mood, interpersonal, coping, role, sexual function)
  • Structural defects (e.g., perineal descent)
  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome  
  • Temporomandibular disorder
Classification of Vulvar pain
key indicators
vulvodynia facts