Centering Women of Color: Chronic Vulvovaginal Pain (CVVP) Communication


Background: Black and white women describe their chronic vulvar pain (CVVP) symptoms differently, indicating a patient–provider communication deficit. This may contribute to the diagnostic delay commonly reported by patients with CVVP and/or pelvic pain. Methods: A pilot study demonstrated CVVP terminology differences between women of color and white women. The present study (N = 488) includes a sample of predominantly cisgender women who identified their race/ethnicity as Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American/American Indian, and/or Asian. Participants reported how they describe their CVVP, their healthcare experiences, and characteristics of their diagnostic journey. Results: Descriptions of CVVP were not uniform. Instead, there was great variability in how women described their pain across racial/ethnic identities and pain contexts (e.g., sexual activity, menstrual product use, and pelvic exam). Some pain experiences and descriptors were associated with healthcare outcomes related to diagnostic delay. Conclusions: This study sheds light on the pain communication experiences of women of color with CVVP, an understudied population within the broader CVVP literature. By resisting white and non-white comparative methodologies, this study demonstrates the applicability of intersectionality principles to the study of CVVP and contributes to the existing literature regarding pain communication, race, and ethnicity.


© 2024 by the authors. cc-by


chronic vulvovaginal pain, ethnicity, intersectionality, pain communication, race, women’s health


Adams, O.R., Gesselman, A.N., & Bennett-Brown, M.. 2024. Centering Women of Color: Chronic Vulvovaginal Pain (CVVP) Communication. Social Sciences, 13(5).