Vulvodynia: Signs Of Vaginal Pain That You Should Not Avoid
According to the Cleveland Clinic, around 200,000 women in the US are affected by vulvodynia. Of course, there may be even more women who have the telltale symptoms without knowing the diagnosis. Find out more about what exactly vulvodynia is and learn about the most common symptoms below.
Women with vulvodynia have chronic vulvar pain with no known cause.
Vulvodynia can be complicated. There's no known cause or catch-all cure. But the goal of vulvodynia treatment is simple: Make the pain stop.
Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
Possible causes of vulvodynia
It is not known what causes vulvodynia. There is no evidence that infections, such as sexually transmitted infections, cause it.
Researchers are trying to find the causes of vulvodynia. These may include:
Nerve injury or irritation
Abnormal response in vulvar cells to an infection or trauma
Genetic factors that make the vulva respond poorly to long-term (chronic) inflammation
Hypersensitivity to yeast infections
Allergies or irritation to chemicals or other substances
History of sexual abuse
Frequent antibiotic use
Types of Vulvodynia
There are two main subtypes of vulvodynia:
Generalized vulvodynia is pain in different areas of the vulva at different times. Vulvar pain may be constant or occur every once in a while. Touch or pressure may or may not prompt it. But this may make the pain worse.
Women with generalized vulvodynia, experience near-constant pain that may be exacerbated by sitting or having sex.
Localized vulvodynia is pain in one area of the vulva.
Often a burning sensation, this type of vulvar pain is usually provoked by touch or pressure, such as intercourse or prolonged sitting.
The National Vulvodynia Association explains that:
For women with localized vulvodynia, there are a number of things that may trigger pain, including sexual intercourse, wearing tight pants, sitting for long periods of time, tampon insertion, and gynecological exams.
Because it can be painful and frustrating and can keep you from wanting sex, vulvodynia can cause emotional problems. For example, fear of having sex can cause spasms in the muscles around your vagina (vaginismus). Other complications might include:
Altered body image
Decreased quality of life
Diagnosis Of Vulvodynia
The following tests and exam are likely to be done in order to diagnose Vulvodynia:
Cotton swab test
Treatment Of Vulvodynia:
Although it is incurable, self-care and treatments for Vulvodynia can help bring relief from symptoms.
Treatment may include:
Steroids, tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants may help lessen chronic pain. Moreover, Antihistamines may be used to reduce itching.
In this technique, electrical sensors are placed on certain parts of your body. They give information about your body's response to pain. For vulvodynia, biofeedback therapy focuses on helping you relax your pelvic muscles. When you anticipate pain, you may contract those muscles, which can actually cause you to have pain.
Avoid potential irritants
Use dermatologically-approved washing powder and do not use fabric softener on underwear.
Use unscented toilet paper that is soft and white.
Wear 100% white cotton underwear, sanitary pads and tampons.
Avoid getting shampoo in the vulval area. Avoid perfumed creams or soaps, sanitary pads or tampons, and contraceptive creams or spermicides.
Wear loose-fitting underwear and skirts and do not wear tights.
Keep the vulva clean and dry.