An inexplicable pain around your vagina could be a sign of vulvodynia. It can be very distressing and could halt your active life. Whether you are suffering from vulvodynia or have someone close to you that is showing symptoms of it, it is important to educate yourself about this condition.
A recent study has revealed that one out of four women experiences vulvar pain at some point in their life. Vulvodynia can affect a women’s life to a great extent, since it can impair her ability to have sex, be physically active, socialise or even work.
Vulvodynia is a very common condition that affects women from the ages of 20 to 60, but it is more common in younger women. It is a type of chronic pain that affects a woman’s vulva, which comprises of the outer genitals of a woman, and includes the clitoris, labia and vaginal opening. The pain can be of two types; one type is continuous and unprovoked while the other type is provoked by a light touch. The latter is also known as vestibulodynia, and can be caused by sexual intercourse or tampon use.
The symptoms of vulvodynia include:
• A burning sensation or rawness felt in the vulva.
• A stinging pain in the vulva.
• Aching, soreness or throbbing in and around the vulva.
• Itching around the area.
• Pain in different areas such as the inner thighs, anus, upper legs and urethra.
• Pain while excreting.
Vulvodynia generally has inexplicable causes, but the potential causes include:
• Irritation of the nerves in the vulvar area or a trapped nerve in the spine.
• A sudden rise in the number of nerve endings in the vestibule.
• Excessive production of chemicals by the cells in the vulva, which leads to inflammation.
• Prolonged reactions to certain infections.
• Changes in responses to hormones.
• Weakening of the muscles of the pelvic floor.
• Scarring of the vulva due to a previous surgery.
Local anesthetics like lidocaine, tricyclic anti depressants, anti convulsants, nerve blockers, interferon injections, topical estrogen creams and different therapies or surgeries are a few of the treatments advised by doctors in order to treat vulvodynia.
Vulvodynia can be relieved with self-care and prevented by following these tips:
• Maintain vaginal hygiene by keeping your vulva clean and dry.
• Avoid using hair dryers on the vulvar area.
• Avoid using fabric softeners on panties. Use detergents that are tested and certified by dermatologists.
• Avoid lacy or synthetic underwear and dry net, silky sanitary napkins. Choose cotton panties, menstrual pads and tampons.
• Avoid scented toilet papers and opt for white and soft ones instead.
• Avoid artificial and perfumed vaginal creams, washes, soaps, perfumes and shampoos.
• Avoid wearing pantyhose, and wear loose and comfortable pants or trousers instead.
• Make sure you rinse your vulva regularly with cold water, especially after sexual intercourse and urination.
• Avoid eating foods that irritate the urethra, such as beans, chocolates, nuts and greens.
• Use soft, cotton bed sheets for sleeping.
• Avoid activities that exert direct pressure on your vulva, such as horse riding and bicycling.
You can ease your vulvar pain by following the steps:
• Wrap ice or a frozen gel pack in a hand towel and apply it to the vulvar area after sexual intercourse.
• Try soaking in a sitz bath filled with cool or lukewarm water.
• Try applying topical heat with a heating pad.
• Use lubricants for easy and painless intercourse.