Vulvodynia is a condition characterized by chronic pain or discomfort around the opening of the vagina (vulva) that lasts for at least three months, and there is no identifiable cause for the pain. The symptoms may include a burning or irritating sensation, making activities like sitting for long periods or having sex unbearable. The condition can persist for months to years.
There are two main types of vulvodynia, based on the location of the pain:
If you are experiencing vulvodynia, don’t allow the lack of visible signs or any embarrassment to prevent you from seeking help, as there are treatment options to alleviate discomfort. Consulting your doctor is essential, as they might be able to identify the cause of your vulvar pain through an examination.
Vulvodynia treatments primarily aim to alleviate symptoms, but no single treatment is universally effective for every case. Often, a combination of treatments proves to be the most successful approach. Finding the right treatments may require some time and patience, as it may take a while after starting a treatment to experience noticeable relief.
Pain in the vaginal area is the most common symptom of vulvodynia. When the pain begins, stops, or becomes the most intense varies for every person. The pain could be constant or intermittent. The pain may be felt across the vulvar area, or it may be confined to a particular area.
The pain in the vulva might be mild to severe. It could feel like:
Vulvodynia is a condition characterized by constant or occasional pain in the vulvar area, which can be provoked by touch. The pain may be generalized throughout the entire vulva or localized to a specific area, such as the vaginal opening. Sometimes, the vulvar tissue might appear slightly inflamed or swollen, but often it looks normal. Another similar condition called vestibulodynia causes pain only when pressure is applied to the area surrounding the entrance of the vagina. Although vulvodynia is relatively common, many women tend not to discuss it with their healthcare providers.
If you experience genital pain, it’s essential to discuss it with your doctor or seek a referral to a gynecologist. Your doctor should evaluate your symptoms to rule out other easily treatable causes of vulvar pain, such as yeast or bacterial infections, herpes, precancerous skin conditions, genitourinary syndrome of menopause, or medical problems like diabetes. Avoid using over–the–counter treatments for yeast infections without proper medical assessment. Once your doctor has examined your symptoms, they can suggest appropriate treatments or strategies to manage the pain effectively.
Vulvodynia has no known cause. However, there are several potential causes, such as:
People with vulvodynia are frequently diagnosed with other common pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, bladder pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
Vulvodynia can occur at any age. However, majority of the diagnosis are among women between the ages of 20 and 60.
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