What is Vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia means painful vulva. The vulva is the external female genitals, including the clitoris and labia. It includes the mound of tissues over the pelvic bone that becomes covered with hair at puberty.
Vulvodynia can last for days, months or years. It can be constant, intermittent, localized or widespread. Vulvodynia can vanish as suddenly as it started. It is not a life threatening condition.
Symptoms of Vulvodynia
- Pain during intercourse.
- Irritation of the perineum that feels like burning, stinging or rawness.
- Extreme tenderness of trigger points when touched.
- Redness and inflammation of the skin around the vaginal opening.
- Increased sensitivity of the skin to clothing and touch.
- Urinary urgency, frequency and painful urination.
Causes of Vulvodynia
- an injury or irritation of the nerves that innervate the vulva
- a localized hypersensitivity to yeast
- an allergic response to environmental irritants
- high levels of oxalate crystals in the urine
- spasms and irritation of the muscles that support the pelvic organs.
Treatment of Vulvodynia
- Discontinuation of all topical medications, soaps, douches, etc., that can worsen irritation
- Interferon injections
- Nerve blockades
- Topical cream
- Surgery for vulvar vestibulitis syndrome only
Self Care Of Vulvodynia
- Exercise and stay active. Regular exercise can help ease chronic pain, but stay away from exercises that put pressure directly on the vulva, such as bicycling.
- Cool compresses placed directly on your external genital area may help lessen pain and itching.
- Avoid tightfitting pantyhose and nylon underwear. Tight undergarments restrict airflow to your genital area, often leading to increased temperature and moisture that can cause irritation. Wear cotton underwear to increase ventilation and dryness.
- Avoid excessive hygiene. Washing or scrubbing the affected area harshly or too often can increase irritation.
- Try an antihistamine at bedtime. This may help reduce itching and help you rest better.
- Look for triggers and avoid them. The triggers that can make vulvar pain worse tend to be different for each woman.
- Avoid potentially irritating soaps, clothing dyes, creams and bath products.