The high costs of vulvodynia are personal-and public

April 19, 2012

In addition to the high personal costs to women who have vulvodynia, the disorder imposes a financial burden on the US economy.

The annual per-patient cost of vulvodynia is more than $17,700 in direct and indirect medical expenses and non-healthcare expenses.

In addition to the financial burden, patients experience impaired quality of life and vulvodynia-related comorbidities.

Vulvodynia has a price tag exceeding $17,700 per patient per year. With a prevalence of 3% to 7% in reproductive-age women in the United States, the condition imposes a national annual financial burden of $31 billion to $72 billion, according to a recent Tulane University study.

Published in Current Medical Research and Opinion (2012;28[4]:1-8], the study used answers to a Web-based survey from 302 women who supplied information on at least 1 month. Of those, 97 supplied 6 months’ data.

Total costs over 6 months were $8,862.40 per patient. Most (68.19%) of that total consisted of direct healthcare costs, including insurance payments, medical treatment, lab work, and out-of-pocket expenses; 6.25% represented direct non-healthcare costs, including transportation and parking expenses; and 25.56% consisted of indirect costs, including financial loss from missed work and the inability to perform household chores.

According to the survey, one-third of the women had generalized vulvodynia, 40% had vestibulodynia, and 28% had both. On average, the women had experienced symptoms for 7 years. Eighty-six percent experienced severe pain on contact to the genital area; 76% experienced burning for 3 months or more; 91% experienced ≥10 episodes of pain on contact, and 95% reported limitation in intercourse.

Frequently reported comorbidities included irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, temporomandibular disorders, interstitial cystitis, and endometriosis. The average Euro QOL 5 dimensions survey score for the women was 0.74±0.19 (mean±SD), which was lower than for kidney transplant recipients (0.87± 0.13) and individuals who have had an osteoporosis fracture (0.85±0.14).

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