A condition that makes it painful to have sex or use tampons is twice as likely to affect Hispanic women than white women, according to a new study.
Meanwhile, half as many black women as white women experience the condition, called vulvodynia.
The study, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, examined the prevalence of the condition, which causes vulvar pain, among 2,542 women in southeastern Michigan. Over a three-year period, researchers found that four out of 100 women who didn't experience any vulvodynia symptoms at the start of the study went on to develop new symptoms indicative of the condition.
"We had a good idea of what the prevalence of vulvodynia was but this data gives us a better understanding of how often new cases develop and the potential risk factors that may be involved," study researcher Dr. Barbara D. Reed, M.D., M.S.P.H., a professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a statement.
Researchers also found that younger age, depression, chronic pain disorders, pre-existing sleep problems and painful sex or vulvar pain were all associated with a great risk of developing vulvodynia.
The condition affects as many as one in 12 women at least once in her lifetime, according to a 2011 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. However, that same study showed that only 2 percent of women with vulvar pain actually seek relief for it. And those who sought medical attention for the pain were diagnosed with and treated for yeast infections or estrogen deficiency.