Vulvodynia - Information and Treatment Options
Vulvodynia is a chronic condition characterized by recurring, long-lasting pain and discomfort of the vulva. The two most common types of vulvodynia involve pain or discomfort can be felt in the entire vulvar area or pain is felt only in the vestibule (the opening of the vagina). Often with both types of vulvodynia, the vulva looks normal even though a woman feels pain.
Vulvodynia pain can significantly affect a women's quality of life as well as her sex life. The fear of pain with intercourse may even lead to muscle spasms of the pelvic muscles (vaginismus).
The cause of vulvodynia is not known, although it may be a combination of factors, such as:
- Spasm of the muscles that support the pelvic organs
- Allergies to chemicals or substances
- Hormonal changes
- Damage to the nerves of the vulva
- Overuse of topical medications
- History of sexual abuse
There are many kinds of treatments that may help relieve the symptoms of vulvodynia. No one treatment works the same for everyone and often more than one treatment is needed. In addition, some treatments take a few months before any relief is noticed. It is important to be patient and maintain good communication with your doctor to help find the best treatment for you.
- Vulvar hygiene that involves gentle care of the vulva to help provide relief from pain.
- Medications including local anesthetics, steroids or specific types of antidepressants and anticonvulsants.
- Surgery may be an option those with severe localized pain who have not found relief through other treatments. A vestibulectomy, which is removal of the painful tissue of the vestibule, has been helpful for some women with localized vulvodynia. For these women, vestibulectomy can help relieve pain and improve sexual comfort.