A vulval colposcopy clinic was established in the sexually transmitted diseases (STD) clinic of St Mary's Hospital, London, to investigate patients with chronic symptoms (mean duration 3 1/2 years). Fifty patients with a mean age of 33 were studied for 12 months, and a specific diagnosis was established for many of them. Forty complained of pruritus vulvae, 33 of dyspareunia, and 30 of vulvodynia. One or more macroscopic abnormality was seen in 29 of the women, the most common being erythema, papules, plaques, and fissures. Colposcopic abnormalities, however, were identified in 45 of the women, the most common being acetowhite epithelium in a flat, papillary, or cobblestone pattern. Biopsy specimens were obtained from 33 of the patients, and all had abnormal histological features. Those of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection were the most common, and were found in 27 specimens; evidence of vulval intraepithelial neoplasia was seen in seven and that of dermatoses in 10. Further work is required, however, before concluding that HPV was necessarily responsible for the chronic symptoms.
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