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WHAT IS VULVODYNIA?
In the next few blogs we are going to talk about diagnoses that cause women pelvic pain. The first one is Vulvodynia.
What is Vulvodynia?
Simply stated, Vulvodynia is an ongoing pain around the opening of the vagina. It is usually unexplained and very uncomfortable. The pain impacts ability to sit for periods of time and sex.
Symptoms may be described as a ”burning” or “rawness” in the vaginal area. The pain may come and go or be constant. It may last for months or even years. The weird part is, it can just go away in the same way it suddenly came on.
One 35 y/o woman with Vulvodynia described it as being “like a knife jabbing me and the thought of having sex on top of that scared me to the core.”
Another woman described Vulvodynia pain as “I felt irritated down there like a throbbing or stinging even though it wasn’t even red.”
A third woman explained when having problems with Vulvodynia that “I first noticed it when inserting a tampon or wearing tighter fitting clothing, then it got to a point where I didn’t want to sit anymore because of the pain. At other times I would almost describe it as itchy.”
Please talk to your doctor if experiencing the problems above so he or she can rule out the more treatable causes for pain in the genital area such as yeast infections, bacterial infections. Precancerous skin conditions, herpes, menopause or diabetes.
Treatment for Vulvodynia:
❖ Avoid irritants such as dyes and perfumes in this area.
❖ Avoid tight fitting clothes that may irritate the area.
❖ Avoid abrasive activities such as biking and horseback riding.
❖ Topical and oral mediations.
❖ Physical therapy.
❖ Biofeedback and Cognitive behavioral therapy.
Medications used include local anesthetics and nerve pain medications. On occasion people suffering from Vulvodynia may also get nerve blocks.
Unfortunately, when Vulvodynia is not treated the pain and fear of having sex can lead to other problems affecting relationships such as sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction, altered body image and overall decreased quality of life.
The same 35 y/o woman above went on to day “My doctor put me on some medication and referred me to a wonderful pelvic floor physical therapist who was able to give a lot of good advice that got me through this problem, until one day it was gone.”
The take home message with Vulvodynia, is don’t let embarrassment or not wanting to discuss the problems you are experiencing, keep you from getting the help that is available.
For more information check out what the National Vulvodynia Association (yes, it is so prevalent that it has its own association!) at: nva.org.
Questions? Give me a call 816-607-3747 or message me. I’m always happy to chat.