Presenting Symptoms and Diagnosis of Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus in Premenopausal Women: A Cross-Sectional Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of lower genital tract disease




OBJECTIVES/PURPOSE: Presenting symptoms of vulvar lichen sclerosus (LS) specific to premenopausal women are not well reported in the literature and may differ from those in postmenopausal women. This study aimed to characterize the presentation of vulvar LS among premenopausal women. MATERIALS AND METHODS: An observational web-based study was conducted in premenopausal women with biopsy-confirmed vulvar LS between the ages of 18-50 years. Participants completed a 28-question survey evaluating characteristics of symptoms, timing of diagnosis, alternate diagnoses, and presence of concomitant autoimmune conditions. RESULTS: Of the 956 responses received, 503 met inclusion criteria of biopsy-confirmed LS and premenopausal status. Average age of symptom onset was 27 years, and average age of diagnosis was 32 years, with a 4-year delay in diagnosis. Symptoms most present were dyspareunia (68%) and tearing with intercourse or vaginal insertion (63%). Symptoms that affect the individual most were also dyspareunia (44%) and tearing with intercourse or vaginal insertion (39%). Symptoms that most frequently prompted patients to seek medical attention were dyspareunia (35%), pruritus (31%) and tearing with intercourse or vaginal insertion (26%). Most common skin changes included hypopigmentation (81%), vulvar fissures (72%), and labial resorption (60%), with fissures affecting the individual the most (48%). Sixty-six percent of the respondents initially received an alternative diagnosis, most commonly vulvovaginal yeast infection (49%). Hypothyroidism was the most common concurrent autoimmune condition (10%). CONCLUSIONS: Vulvar LS affects premenopausal women, commonly presenting with dyspareunia and tearing with intercourse. This condition should be considered and evaluated in premenopausal women presenting with vulvar symptoms and sexual pain.


Obstetrics and Gynecology