What is it?

The vulva consists of the external female sex organs. Many women experience pain and discomfort in the vulva at some point in their lives. When the pain is persistent for more than three months and has no apparent cause, it’s called vulvodynia.
The reason for vulvodynia is not fully known. The leading hypothesis is that an inciting event, such as infection or trauma, initiates a local inflammatory response. In susceptible women, the inflammatory response causes the proliferation of nerve fibers in the vestibular tissue and lowered pain thresholds.

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Signs & symptoms

Most women with vulvar pain report a burning, stinging, or throbbing discomfort in the vaginal area. Sometimes, the pain is constant. Other times, it’s only felt when there is pressure on the area, caused by: intercourse, inserting a tampon, prolonged sitting or bike riding, wearing tight pants.
The vulvar tissue often looks healthy and normal in women with vulvar pain.

Diagnosis

The condition is one of exclusion and other vulvovaginal problems should be ruled out. The diagnosis is based on the typical complaints, essentially normal physical findings, and the absence of other identifiable causes for your pain, such as infections.
Your physician will perform a pelvic exam to look for signs of inflammation or infection. They may also take sample to test for a bacterial or yeast infection. They may use a cotton swab to gently probe the vaginal area to help determine if your pain is generalized or located in only one spot. Patients often will describe the touch of a cotton ball as very painful.

Treatment

Treatment may include:
* lifestyle changes such as using cotton underwear, not using substances that may irritate the area, and using lubricant during sexual activity.
* Pelvic floor physical therapy
* psychological intervention
* medication – topical ointments or creams and other oral medications.
* Surgery – in rare cases

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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