Vulvodynia, also known as vestibulodynia, affects about 15 percent women during their young and middle age years. It is not infectious and, with proper treatment and care, can be easily suppressed.
What Is Vulvodynia?
The nerve endings around your vulva (the entrance to your vagina) and the urethra may become super-sensitive and painful to touch, leading to pain and discomfort. This results in vulvodynia, where you experience a persistent discomfort or pain in those areas. The pain may come and go, or it could be a permanent discomfort.
What Are The Symptoms?
You may experience the following symptoms along with the pain.
- Irritation or raw feeling in the area
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Sitting, walking, sex and exercising can make the pain and symptoms worse
What Are The Causes?
Till date, the exact cause of vulvodynia is not known. However, there are a few possible causes that doctors feel may lead to it.
- Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Yeast infection
- Any infection that may have occurred from chemicals (using soap around the area, detergents used to clean undergarments or such)
- Rashes around your genitalia
- If you have had a laser treatment or surgery on your external genitals
- Injury or spasms in your pelvic area
- Cancerous condition around the cervix
- Stress is also thought to aggravate the condition
How Is It Diagnosed?
Your doctor will refer a pelvic exam and other tests to determine the presence of bacteria and yeast. You may further be referred to a colposcopy (in which your genital area will be examined using a special magnifying glass), or a biopsy (in which your genital area will be numbed and a small piece of tissue will be tested using a microscope). Additionally, your doctor may perform a cotton swab test, which will help spot the exact areas of pain and its severity. In case of vulvodynia, a cotton ball will feel as sharp and painful on your skin as the scraping of a knife.
Depending on the severity of your condition, vulvodynia can be treated within days or even a few months. The anti-depressant drug amitriptyline is most effective in lessening the symptoms and discomfort associated with vulvodynia. Some other anti-depressants and anti-convulsants can also be used to decrease the pain and discomfort, along with the use of anesthetic gels that your doctor will suggest.
Vulvodynia can be easily prevented by following some simple practices.
- Wear cotton undergarments and avoid tight clothes around your genitalia
- Avoid the use of scented toilet paper, perfumed soaps or creams in your genital area
- Take frequent breaks between sitting
- Do not wash the genital area too frequently and stay away from douching
Vulvodynia is a preventable and treatable condition, which is why it is important to speak to your doctor the moment you experience any pain or discomfort. Schedule an appointment and get a checkup done to prevent the condition from worsening.
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