If you’ve never heard of vulvodynia, you’re not alone. Most women can’t explain what the word “vulvodynia” means. But they may know how it feels, even if they don’t know what it’s called.
Vulvodynia is a condition that results in chronic pain in the area around the vulva, which is the area between your legs — also known as your outer genitals — that surrounds your vaginal opening.
Here at Virtuosa GYN in San Antonio, Texas, Susan Crockett, MD, and our all-female team of highly trained care providers believe it’s important for women to understand the causes and impact of health conditions such as vulvodynia.
With that in mind, we share some important information about this condition, including five common signs that you have it.
Your vulva includes several structures: your vaginal opening (vestibule), the folds of tissue that make up the outer lips of your vulva (labia majora), the folds of tissue that make up the inner lips of your vulva (labia minora), and your clitoris, the sensitive structure that responds to sexual stimulation.
When any part of your vulva experiences pain or other discomfort, we may diagnose vulvodynia.
The following indications are among the most common signs of vulvodynia:
Vulvodynia can cause pain in one or more parts of your vulva. The type of pain you experience may vary, ranging from sharp pain to dull pain, and it may be mild, moderate, or severe. Your pain may come and go or it may be fairly constant; it may occur in response to certain situations or appear with no obvious provocation.
Common pain triggers include inserting a tampon, having an internal exam, or vaginal penetration during sex.
Itching, burning, and stinging are among the discomforts that can occur with vulvodynia. They may happen on their own or in reaction to certain situations or triggers.
For women with vulvodynia, sitting for long periods of time can be quite uncomfortable. Pain may be worse when you wear tight pants or when you use a tampon or pad during your period.
Irritation, burning, itching, and other symptoms caused by vulvodynia can make it difficult to enjoy sexual intercourse.
The increased blood flow that occurs with sexual stimulation of your clitoris or orgasm can trigger pain or other discomforts in your clitoros or the surrounding tissue.
If you show signs of vulvodynia, we evaluate it by performing an examination and asking you questions about the type, frequency, and onset of your symptoms. We also ask you about your overall health, your medical history, your sexual history, and other related issues, such as whether you have allergies.
Vulvodynia can have a range of causes. These include allergies, infections, hormonal changes, nerve damage, and muscle spasms. In some cases, vulvodynia has no known cause.
Your treatment depends on what is causing your discomfort. For example, if we suspect that allergies are causing your symptoms, we may recommend allergy remedies such as avoiding allergens or switching soap or hygiene products.
If your condition has no known cause, we may recommend treatments, lifestyle changes, or self-help strategies that address your symptoms.
If you’re experiencing vulvar pain or any other gynecological discomforts, we’re here to help. We provide a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for women. Contact us today at our San Antonio, Texas, office to schedule an evaluation with one of our caring providers.