Out of all other body parts in a female body, the vagina is one of the most sensitive parts. Sometimes, an unbearable pain starts occurring in its opening. This pain is basically termed as vulvodynia. This article is about the complete details of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of vulvodynia. Moreover, this disease causes extreme irritation in the body. A woman with this problem might faces difficulties when she comes across periods. Similarly, a woman is unable to perform sexual intercourse due to this pain-causing disease.
This problem is not technically life-threatening, however, the woman suffering from this faces difficulty in performing other routine tasks. Sometimes, continuous pain and itching cause depression in some women as well. As it occurs in the vagina, so most of the woman feel shy while discussing this due to social stigma. However, lack of awareness and proper communication can lead to severe problems and eliminate your chances of getting relief. In some cases, this pain may become long-lasting. While in others, it may come and go. Usually, it occurs in almost 16-20% of women once in their lifetime. So, let’s see what are the major causes that result in vulvodynia.
Causes of Vulvodynia
Causes of vulvodynia are not well known. The doctors only get ideas from the possible risk factors of the disease. Most identified causes of vulvodynia are as follows:
- Sometimes, any injury at the opening of the vagina can cause this disease.
- A woman may get different infections in her vagina. Sometimes, an infection that occurred in the past, can result in the development of vulvodynia in the future.
- Some people have very sensitive skin and their bodies easily become allergic due to this. Vulvodynia may also occur in such kind of women.
- Natural changes in hormones are also one of the major causes of vulvodynia.
- In some women, the lower area of the pelvis is weak which increases the chances of getting this disease.
- As we inherit some things from our parents, so a problem in the genes may also cause this disease. Because poor genes of the vagina quickly get an infection.
- Some people do sex in a very abusive manner, which may result in this problem as well.
- Every medicine has some side effects. Similarly, antibiotics also have some side effects. Sometimes, excessive use of antibiotics also causes vulvodynia.
Symptoms of Vulvodynia
Symptoms of vulvodynia occur immediately. They may be constant or go away depending upon the situation. Besides that, the symptoms of vulvodynia get worse with physical exercises, such as running or cycling. Even sexual activity can make its symptoms worse. The symptoms of vulvodynia include:
- One of the major symptoms of vulvodynia is the pain in the vaginal opening. It depends upon the severity of the situation whether this pain occurs in a particular area or others as well. Sometimes, this pain moves from the vagina towards the legs and thighs of the patient. Basically, this pain occurs due to the improper functioning of nerve fibers in the vaginal area.
- In some situations, it causes severe burning in the area of the vagina. Sometimes, this burning becomes unbearable for the patient.
- In this condition, the patient feels that electrical shocks are spreading through her vagina.
- The vagina of the patient becomes raw and sensitive.
- One of the major symptoms of vulvodynia is that a patient feels difficulty in sexual contact and coitus.
- There is an unusual itching in the vagina of the patient.
- Swelling in the area of vagina is also one of the major symptoms of vulvodynia. Actually, continuous pain and infection make that area swell and become inflamed.
Types of Vulvodynia
As we know that this problem occurs basically in the genital organs of the female. However, sometimes the pain may occur in some other areas too. On the basis of this finding, the vulvodynia is divided into two types. These types include:
In this type, the pain basically occurs in the different parts of the vagina. There is not any fixed time for this pain, in fact, it may occur at different or even irregular intervals. Sometimes a patient may also suffer from this pain continuously. However, in some situations, this pain comes and goes again and again. In this type, the pressure does not make the pain worse in most cases.
The pain occurs only at the specific area of the vagina in this type. The patient feels a strong sense of burning sensations in their vaginal area. If the pressure is applied, like sexual intercourse or harsh physical exercise, the pain may become unbearable.
Technically speaking, this problem does not cause any life-threatening complications. However, as it causes irritation and pain so the person starts getting some complications due to mood swings. Similarly, the patient feels difficulty in sex, so it affects the general life of the person as well. Following are the most common complications caused by vulvodynia:
- Due to persistent pain, the patient starts getting into the depression.
- In some cases, it causes anxiety in women.
- The women feel difficulty in sleeping. Due to which, she may also encounter accidents during the daytime due to lack of proper sleep.
- The sexual life of the patient destroys.
- After some time, the body shape of the women also starts changing.
- The quality of life becomes zero in this situation.
When to see a doctor
Most of the women feel shy about discussing this problem with their doctors. Although this is a very common condition, the social stigma attached to sexual problems makes it difficult to seek help. It is best to consult a doctor immediately in case of any abnormalities in your private parts. You can either consult a general physician or go to a professional sexologist or a gynaecologist for better treatment. The general physician will try to diagnose the problem and suggest appropriate treatment options. On the other hand, a gynaecologist can give you a detailed insight into the problem and help you avoid similar issues in the future.
Diagnosis of Vulvodynia
Diagnosis of vulvodynia plays a vital role in its treatment. Before the diagnosis of vulvodynia, the doctor mostly asks about the surgical history of the patient. After that, he/she might question the severity of the symptoms. When the doctor confirms the condition of the patient, then he/she moves towards the diagnosis of vulvodynia. The doctor mostly conducts the below test to diagnose the problem.
This test is very helpful in the diagnosis of vulvodynia. The doctor tries to see the external area of the vagina visually. He/she does this to find if there are any symptoms of infection in the vagina of the patient. If the doctor does not get any result, he/she takes the sample of the vaginal cells and tests them in the laboratory. In this way, the doctor gets to know whether there is any kind of infection in the vagina or not. The tests will help to diagnose the problem.
Treatment of Vulvodynia
Treatment of vulvodynia totally depends upon its symptoms as it is different for different women. Sometimes a single method may be beneficial while, on other times a combination of methods is needed for the treatment of vulvodynia. Its treatment may take some time to work just like any other medical condition. These are the most common methods used in the treatment of vulvodynia:
Sometimes, the doctor simply recommends different medicines for the treatment of vulvodynia. Theses medicines include different steroids or antihistamines.
Depending on the symptoms, the doctor recommends biofeedback therapy for the treatment of vulvodynia. Basically, it helps in relaxing the muscles of the pelvic region, thus, the patient gets relief from the pain.
As we know that a woman suffering from this pain cannot do sexual intercourse or intense physical labor. So, for this purpose, the doctor sometimes recommends the local anesthesia to get some relief temporarily. The local anesthesia used for this purpose is lidocaine ointment. It may cause insensitivity to your sexual partner for some time but will help you get the job done without any pain.
In some women, this pain is almost unbearable. In fact, they do not get relief from any medicine or local anesthetics. So, in this case, the doctor goes for the nerve block injections. These injections block the pain coming from the nerves, thus, relieving the patient from intense pain.
If the pain continues and the patient does not get relief, the only treatment left for vulvodynia is surgery. In this surgery, the doctor removes the infected tissues of the patient. As a result, the patient gets relief.
Prevention of Vulvodynia
You cannot totally avoid this problem. But all you can do is to take some measures, that reduces its risk. Try to wear underwear made of cotton. Similarly, the use of loose trouser also reduces the risk of this problem. The use of perfumes near the vagina also causes this problem. So, try to avoid the use of scents or unnecessary chemical products.
Vulvodynia is basically an unbearable pain in the vagina and there are not any defined causes of this problem. The treatment of vulvodynia depends upon its symptoms and one must go for its diagnosis before treatment. It is basically not a dangerous problem but it causes extreme irritation and pain in the body. We cannot avoid this problem, but all we can do is to take some preventive measures.