Vulvodynia (vaginal pain) is a pain disorder in the area of the vaginal opening and vulva. Vulvodynia causes severe pain, stinging, and burning of the vulva for which there is no complete cure. The goal of vulvodynia treatment is to relieve symptoms and reduce vulvar pain.
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What Is Vulvodynia?
When a woman experiences pain in the vulvar region, the condition is described as vulvodynia. The condition affects the vulva, the external female genital organs including the labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening. Pain can affect either one particular area or can spread to multiple points, causing vaginal pain.
What Causes Vulvodynia?
The exact cause of the condition is still unknown, and researchers are working hard to try and identify the reason for vulvodynia pain. However, there have been suggestions that vulvodynia causes may be linked to genetics, immunology and even diet. Other possible causes of the condition may be:
- hormonal changes
- nerve injury and irritation
- hypersensitivity to yeast infections
- allergies to certain chemical substances
- abnormal response to infection or trauma by the vulvar cells
Even though the cause is unknown, this condition has been noted to occur in women of all ages from teenagers to the elderly. It is also a very common problem, affecting millions of women at any given time, but the absence of a known cause makes it harder to treat.
The main symptoms of vulvodynia are vulvar pain, although the pain can present itself in various ways. Some women can have pain on a single part of the vulva, while others will experience pain around the entire vulvar region. The pain can also have varying intensities from one woman to the other. The type of pain, too, can vary, with some women experiencing a sharp pain while others having a burning sensation.
Regardless of how vaginal pain presents itself, it can be a very clear sign of vulvodynia. In some cases, the pain can be constant, while in others it can be intermittent and experienced in intervals. Still, some may only experience pain when the vulvar region is touched or pressed, which makes certain activities painful such as sitting or riding a bike.
Just like hemorrhoids, vulvodynia is a somewhat sensitive condition and many women may be embarrassed to talk to their doctor about it. This is why some women experience pain for years without getting any medical help.
Types of Vulvodynia
Generalized vulvodynia – when the pain experienced affects various vulvar regions at different times. The pain may occur consistently or intermittently, and touch doesn’t seem to cause it but the pressure may exacerbate the pain
Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome – pain particularly at the entrance to the vagina. This type of vulvodynia is usually triggered by pressure such as during intercourse and is characterized by a burning sensation in the region
Diagnosis and Vulvodynia Treatment
The diagnosis for vulvodynia is primarily based on the description of the symptoms since there are to tests. Nevertheless, for a positive diagnosis to be drawn, the vulvodynia symptoms must be present for more than 3 months.
Unfortunately, there is also no treatment for vulvodynia, but various medications are available that help the affected women by relieving pain and making them more comfortable. Examples of such medication are local anesthetics like lidocaine and topical estrogen creams.
The most important solution is self-care which involves measures that avoid potential irritants such as chlorine in pools, shampoo, scented toilet paper and soaps, detergents for washing clothes and even foods that make the urine more irritating like chocolate and berries.
Our advanced pain management center has the best vulvodynia specialists in NYC. The Brooklyn pain management doctors and specialists at Pain Physicians NY offer a unique, individualized approach. We use the most effective pelvic pain management options utilizing the latest technologies available in the USA.