The external genital area of woman is defined as the vulva. It is composed of fatty tissue that forms the labia and clitoris. Some women will experience what is called Vulvodynia, which means pain in the vulva. This pain can be described as a raw feeling with burning, stinging and itching. Simple daily activities such as walking or sitting can exacerbate the pain. Experts believe that vulvodynia is largely under diagnosed. This is partly due to the fact that there are no visible signs of vulvodynia. In most cases, the vulva will appear completely normal.
Doctors think that injury to the nerves surrounding the vulvar region, past vaginal infections, allergies or muscle spasms can be contributing factors to vulvodynia. However, the exact cause of vulvodynia is not known.
There is no medical tests to diagnose vulvodynia. The diagnosis must be made based upon symptoms. The symptoms of vulvodynia are:
Burning of the vaginal area.
Soreness of the vaginal area.
Itching of the vaginal area.
Stinging of the vaginal area.
The vaginal area feels raw.
Throbbing in the vaginal area.
The pain that is experienced may be constant or intermittent and can last for months or sometimes even years. If you start experiencing pain in your genital area, see your doctor. Discuss your symptoms with him and have him rule out any other cause of vaginal pain such as, yeast infections, skin infections or other medical problems.
If the diagnosis of vulvodynia is mad, then treatment options can be discussed with your doctor. There is no known cure for vulvodynia so treatment must focus on relieving the symptoms. Every woman is different so what works for one woman may not work for another. Sometimes a combination of treatment is needed for relief. Treatments for vulvodynia include:
Medications. Tricyclic anti depressants such as amitriptyline can help with chronic pain. Anticonvulsants such as Tegretol and Neurontin may help with pain also. Antihistamines can reduce itching.
Biofeedback therapy. This teaches you how to enter a relaxed state in order to relieve pain. Some women have had success in learning how to relax their pelvic muscles and obtain pain relief.
Local anesthetics. Using a topical medication such as Lidocaine can numb the area and provide temporary relief.
Topical creams. Creams that contain estrogen or cortisone bring relief for some women,however these are not good to use on a long term basis.
Sitz bath. Sitting in a warm saline bath may help you feel better but be careful, it also has the potential to aggravate your discomfort.
It is important that you look for triggers that cause flare ups of vulvodynia. Certain types of soaps, clothing dyes, bath product or toilet tissue can all be culprits. Avoid tight fitting pantyhose and nylon underwear. Stay out of hot tubs and remove wet bathing suits or workout clothes as soon as possible. Avoid excessive washing of the affected area. A cool compress placed directly on your genital area may provide relief from the pain and itching. Consult your doctor to select the best possible key to overcome your symptoms of vulvodynia.