Vulvodynia – Overview, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment
What Is Vulvodynia?
- Generalized vulvodynia, in which the pain is felt throughout the vulva.
- Localized vulvodynia, in which the pain is confined to a specific area of the vulva.
How common is VulvodyniaVulvodynia is a relatively common condition, with estimates suggesting that it affects between 8% and 12% of women at some part in their lives.
Who Gets Vulvodynia?It can occur in women of all ages but is more common in women between 20 and 40. Risk factors for vulvodynia include a history of vulvar or vaginal infections, a history of sexual abuse or trauma, and certain genetic factors.
What Are the Options for Vulvodynia Treatments?
Vulvodynia treatment may include medications, physical therapy, nerve blocks, and psychological counseling. Sometimes, a combination of treatments may be necessary to manage the condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Vulvodynia?
- Burning pain: This is the most common symptom of vulvodynia and can be described as a burning, stinging, or aching sensation in the vulva.
- Sharp pain: Some women may experience sharp, stabbing pain in the vulva, particularly during sexual intercourse.
- Constant pain: Some women may experience continuous pain in the vulva. In contrast, others may experience pain only when certain activities or pressure is applied to the vulva.
- Sensitivity: The vulva may be overly sensitive to touch or pressure, making it uncomfortable to wear tight clothing or sit for long periods.
- Irritation: Some women may experience redness, itching, or burning in the vulva.
What Does Vulvodynia Feel Like?
What Causes Vulvodynia to Flare Up?
- Nerve damage: Damage to the nerves in the vulva can cause pain and sensitivity.
- Inflammation: Inflammation of the vulva or surrounding tissues may cause vulvodynia.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, like those that occur during menopause, may contribute to vulvodynia.
- Genetics: Some studies have suggested that vulvodynia may have a genetic component.
- Trauma: Trauma to the vulva, such as that caused by childbirth or surgery, may lead to vulvodynia.
- Infections: Certain infections, such as yeast infections and urinary tract infections, may lead to vulvodynia.
- Stress: Stress may contribute to vulvodynia, as it can cause muscle tension and trigger pain in the vulva.
How Is Vulvodynia Diagnosed?
- Physical examination: The healthcare provider will conduct tests to examine the vulva for signs of inflammation, redness, or other abnormalities. They may also perform a pelvic exam to check for any other abnormalities contributing to the pain.
- Medical history: The healthcare provider will ask about the patient’s medical record, including any previous vaginal or vulvar infections, surgeries, or other medical conditions that may be related to vulvodynia, to formulate a vulvodynia medical procedure.
- Pain mapping: The healthcare provider may use a device called a vulvodynia pain mapping wand to identify the specific areas of pain.
- Other tests: Additional tests, such as a urinalysis, may be performed to rule out other conditions causing the pain.
- Referral to a specialist: If the diagnosis is unclear, a healthcare provider may refer the patient to a gynecologist or a urologist who is experienced in treating vulvodynia.
What Are the Options for the Treatment of Vulvodynia?
- Surgery: Surgery may be considered a last resort for vulvodynia that does not respond to other treatments. Surgery can only be performed in specific cases and only by a vulvodynia specialist.
- Vulvodynia medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, may be used to manage pain. Topical creams, such as lidocaine, may be applied to the vulva to numb the area and reduce pain. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants may also be prescribed to manage chronic pain.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy, such as pelvic floor muscle therapy, may improve muscle tone and reduce pain.
- Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, may be used to manage stress and anxiety related to vulvodynia.
- Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding tight clothing, using unscented soap, avoiding harsh detergents, avoiding irritants, and performing vulvodynia exercises, may also help to manage symptoms of vulvodynia.
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How to Manage Vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia can be a difficult condition to manage. Still, there are several steps you can take to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Some tips for managing vulvodynia include:
- Maintaining good hygiene: Keep the area clean and dry. Avoid harsh soaps or detergents, and use a mild, unscented soap.
- Avoiding irritants: Avoid irritants such as harsh fabrics, tight clothing, and certain vaginal products, such as douches and powders.
- Managing pain: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, may help to manage pain. Topical creams, such as lidocaine, may also be applied to the vulva to numb the area and reduce pain.
- Practicing stress management techniques: Stress can worsen vulvodynia symptoms, so it’s important to find ways to manage stress, such as relaxation techniques, meditation, or yoga.
- Making healthy lifestyle choices: Eating a nutritious diet, regular exercise, trying vulvodynia home remedies, and natural supplements for vulvodynia, and getting enough sleep can also help manage vulvodynia symptoms.
- Communicating with your healthcare provider: It’s important to keep your healthcare provider informed about your symptoms and treatment progress and to work with them to find the most effective treatment plan and home remedies for vulvodynia.
It’s also important to remember that vulvodynia is a chronic condition, and management may require ongoing effort. It’s very important to be patient with yourself and to be prepared for setbacks during the vulvodynia cure.
It’s also much important to seek support from friends, family, and support groups like the national vulvodynia association to know others’ stories of “how I cured my vulvodynia”. Vulvodynia can be isolating and emotionally taxing, so it’s important to have a supportive network of people to turn to for encouragement and understanding.
When to See a Doctor?
- Persistent or recurring vulvar pain: This can include burning, stinging, irritation, or pain with intercourse.
- Pain or discomfort in the vulva, labia, clitoris, or perineum.
- Pain or discomfort unrelated to an infection or other medical condition.
- Pain which lasts for more than three months.
Why Ongo Care
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there activities I should avoid that may be making my symptoms worse?
Yes, certain activities or lifestyle factors may make vulvodynia symptoms worse. It’s important to be aware of these and make necessary changes to help manage your symptoms.
Some activities or lifestyle factors that may make vulvodynia symptoms worse include:
- Sitting for long periods
- Wearing tight or restrictive clothing
- Using harsh soaps or detergents
- Douching or using vaginal deodorants
- Using certain types of lubricants
- Sexual activity
What medications, procedures, or lifestyle changes would the doctor recommend for treatment?
Where Do I Find Expert Vulvodynia Specialists online?
What is the present quickest way to get rid of vulvodynia?
How can I make the most out of my online doctor consultation?
- Prepare a list of questions
- Gather information
- Be honest
- Make sure you have a good and strong internet connection and a quiet place for the consultation
- Follow your doctor’s instructions and ask for clarification if you are unsure
- Take notes