Vulvodynia refers to the pain in the vulva, the external genital organ that surrounds the opening to the vagina.
The pain usually occurs in the form of burning, itching, stinging, irritating or roughness feeling.
Vulvodynia can occur at any time and may last for several months or years. The pain that is associated with the condition may be chronic or may occur occasionally when the external genital organ (vulva) is touched.
Vulvodynia is the most common disorder in women. It is estimated that approximately fifteen million women, of any age, undergo vulvar pain or vulvodynia at any point throughout their lives. It is even more common in women having sensitive skin.
Vulvodynia is of two types: generalized and localized. Generalized vulvodynia refers to the pain that occurs in the entire vulvar area and localized vulvodynia refers to the pain that occurs only in the opening to the vagina.
Although the vulvodynia is not a critical disorder, it can lead to discomfort that interferes your routine activities. The chronic vulvar pain can result in mental health problems: depression, poor self-image and low self-esteem.
Remember that the vulva appears very normal even if you experience the pain. However, with this condition, you may also experience vulvar pain while walking, sitting, exercising or during sexual intercourse. The painful sexual intercourse is known as dyspareunia.
The exact cause of the vulvodynia is unknown. It is misbelieved that the condition is related to cancer or sexual transmitted diseases. Remember that this is not a sexual transmitted disease.
However, the possible causes of the condition may include frequent infections, genetic factors, regular use of antibiotics, chemical reactions on the genital organs, rashes on the genital area, past surgeries on the genital organs, sexual abuse, damage of the vulvar nerves and hormonal changes.
The vulvar pain differs from woman to woman. The pain usually differs in the severity. For some, the pain may occur around the urethra, back passage inner thighs and legs.
For evaluating the condition, your doctor may perform pelvic examination and other tests to detect the presence of bacteria or infection (if any) that cause the condition.
A swab test may also be performed where the areas of the vulva and vestibule are touched with a cotton swab in order to identify the location and severity of the pain.
The doctor may also recommend biopsy or colposcopy if there is any skin changes in the genital area.
Doctor starts treating vulvodynia once the condition is evaluated with the test results. However, vulvodynia treatment depends on the symptoms and causes of the condition, age, medical history and your overall health condition.
There are different treatment methods that can help ease the vulvodynia symptoms. A single treatment method doesn’t work effectively all the time for every one.
Sometimes vaginal creams, lotions and gels can help treat the infections that cause the condition and antidepressant medication such as amitriptyline is most effective in relieving nerve pain and irritation.
Interferon injections, stress management counseling, laser therapy or surgery may be recommended if the vulvodynia in serious condition.