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Vulvodynia

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Introduction

The vulva is the outer part of the women’s genitalia. It includes the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, and perineum.

Pain in any of these parts of the vulva may indicate Vulvodynia.

Vulvodynia is a condition where a woman feels constant pain or discomfort in her vulva. The vulva contains thousands of nerve endings, and hypersensitivity in those nerves can cause this condition.

It is a common condition found in women irrespective of age or whether or not they are sexually active.

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What are the Types of Vulvodynia?

This condition can be of four types. They are:

  • Generalised vulvodynia: In this condition, the pain is felt in the entire vulva. It starts suddenly and may last for a few months.
  • Localised vulvodynia: In this condition, the pain is generally felt in a single part of the vulva. For example, the pain might be restricted to the clitoris or the labia majora and minora.
  • Cyclic vulvitis: In this type, the pain is felt right before or after the menstruation cycle. The pain may be generalised or localed, depending on your condition.
  • Vestibulodynia: In this type, the pain occurs in the vagina’s opening. It may worsen when pressure is applied or while having sex.

What are the symptoms of Vulvodynia?

  • ● You may feel a slight burning or itching in your vulva or inside your vagina
  • ● There may be redness and swelling in the outside of your vagina
  • ● You may see a watery discharge coming out of your vagina
  • ● Constant throbbing pain or soreness in the vagina
  • ● She might feel discomfort while urinating or have a frequent urge to urinate
  • ● Due to the swelling and itching, intercourse may feel painful
  • ● Difficulty in walking, running, or doing any normal exercises

What are the Causes of Vulvodynia?

The exact cause of vulvodynia is still unknown. Various factors can cause Vulvodynia. Some of them are:

  • Recurring vaginal infections: Recurring vaginal yeast or bacterial infections may cause the outside of your vagina to become more sensitive. This, in turn, may lead the vulva to become sore and cause throbbing pain.
  • Physical abuse or trauma: Any form of physical or sexual abuse may damage the nerves in your vulva. Also, activities like horse-riding may put a lot of pressure on the vulva and damage it.
  • Allergies: Allergies to soaps, detergents, latex, pads, or tampons may also irritate the vulva and irritate.
  • Chronic conditions: Chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, or fibromyalgia may also cause this condition.
  • Hormonal changes: An increase or decrease in estrogen levels may also contribute to this condition.

How is Vulvodynia diagnosed?

Before doing any tests, your doctor will take your medical and sexual history. He will also ask you to describe the place and the extent of your symptoms.

Later, the following tests will be performed:

  • Pelvic exam: The doctor will visually check the inside and outside of your genitals for any infections. He might also send a few cells from your vagina for an examination of any bacterial or yeast infections.
  • Cotton swab test: Your doctor will use a cotton swab to check your vagina for any localised

How is Vulvodynia Treated?

The doctor will treat your condition, based on its underlying cause. If there is no specific cause, your doctor will prescribe medications to manage your pain.

Some of the treatment options available for managing this condition are:

  • Medications: Medicines like antidepressants and anticonvulsants may help reduce pain. Anti-inflammatory ointments may be given to reduce the swelling and redness in your area. Antihistamines to help reduce severe itching in the vulva may also be given.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor may ask you to undergo physical therapy to release the tension in your pelvic muscles. The pelvic muscles support your uterus, and stress may cause the muscles to tighten and pain.
  • Psychotherapy: Many women undergoing stress report pain in their uterus and vagina. Your doctor might ask you to consider psychotherapy along with medications to relieve your pain.
  • Local anesthetics: Local anesthetics may be prescribed to provide temporary relief from the soreness in your vulva.
  • Biofeedback therapy: This is a specialized therapy where you learn how to relax your muscles. It also helps control your bodily responses to stress and other symptoms to reduce pain.
  • Surgery: In case of localized Vulvodynia, surgery may be performed to remove the affected area and surrounding tissue. If the Vulvodynia is localized at the entrance of the vagina, a vestibulectomy to remove the vestibule may be performed.

What is the Results of Vulvodynia Treatment?

 Vulvodynia can be caused due to a variety of factors and can set off at any age. However, with the appropriate treatment, you can reduce your pain and alleviate your symptoms

What are the Risks Associated with Vulvodynia Treatment?

Usually, surgery for treating vulvodynia does not cause any complications. However, in certain cases, the patient may experience the following:

  • ● Bleeding
  • ● Reduced vaginal lubrication
  • ● Development of Bartholin’s cyst
  • ● Change in the appearance of the vulva
  • ● Weakened anal muscles
  • ● Painful intercourse or sexual dysfunction

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FAQ's

How Long Does Vulvodynia Last?

Vulvodynia may occur suddenly and last for a few months or years.

What are the Preventive Measures for Vulvodynia?

To prevent Vulvodynia, take the following measures

  • ● Avoid wearing tight underwear
  • ● Avoid douching or taking hot water baths
  • ● Avoid using scented products
  • ● Wash the vagina regularly with warm water

What Foods to Avoid if I have Vulvodynia?

If you have Vulvodynia, avoid consuming the following food items:

  • ● Processed foods like bread, biscuits, pies, and other junk items
  • ● Foods containing high sugar
  • ● Foods that make urine acidic like cranberries and chocolate

Can Vulvodynia Interfere With Pregnancy?

No Vulvodynia will not interfere with your pregnancy. However, the pain might affect your sexual drive and make it difficult to get pregnant.

What are Some Home Remedies to Reduce Vulvar Pain?

Some of the Remedies to reduce Vulvar pain are:

  • ● Apply ice packs
  • ● Rinse with warm water
  • ● Take sitz bath for 15 mins
  • ● Use lubricants to avoid friction

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