Vulvodynia & Vestibulitis
Vulvodynia and vestibulitis are medical terms used to describe generalized pain in the vulva (vulvodynia) or pain localized to the entrance of the vagina (vestibulitis). The pain from these disorders may be sharp, dull, but it is most often described as a ‘burning’ pain. The pain can be severe enough to prevent sexual contact. Sometimes it can even be brought on by light touch, clothing, or other contact that is not supposed to be painful.
No one knows exactly why women get vulvodynia or vestibulitis, but in some cases these painful conditions can be brought on by an infection, trauma or vaginal surgery.
Vulvodynia is a chronic pain condition which causes pain in the genital area. This includes pain on the inside, the outside (the vulva) or both areas of the vagina. The pain may be constant or intermittent. Pain occurs with sex or intercourse, tampon insertion, prolonged pressure such as sitting or even clothing just touching this area.
Women with vulvodynia commonly report vaginal pain with intercourse or tampon insertion. Activities such as sitting, walking, exercise or urination may also cause pain. The pain can be burning, sharp, itching, throbbing, soreness, aching or "rawness". The vulva (outside the vagina) may look normal or may look red or swollen.
Causes of Vulvodynia
Vulvodynia can occur after several years of a healthy sex life. It can also occur with first intercourse or first tampon insertion. Vulvodynia is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a cancer. There are several causes of vulvodynia. Vulvodynia is believed to result from one or more factors such as:
- Allergies to certain chemicals
- Genetic factors
- Hormonal changes such as with your period, use of birth control pills and menopause
- Infections such as yeast infections
- Irritation or damage to the nerves of the vulvar skin
- Muscle spasms of the pelvic muscles
- Overuse of some topical medications
Treatment for Vulvodynia
If you suffer from vulvodynia, treatments or a combination of treatments may include:
- Changing vaginal hygiene
- Injections of anesthetics, steroids or other medications
- Local creams containing hormones, steroids or anesthetics (numbing)
- Medications to help improve pain (such as antidepressants or neuroleptics)
- Pelvic physical therapy and muscle relaxants
- Surgery (though this is rarely needed)
Because vulvodynia is a chronic condition, it can be frustrating to treat. Talk with the specialists at Advanced & Minimally Invasive Gynecology. Explain your symptoms. Your physician will then perform a careful and extensive exam of the inside and outside of the vagina. Your doctor may take samples of vaginal discharge as well as use a cotton swab to touch different areas of you vaginal area. Your input along with the physical exam helps the doctor to determine the best treatment path. TOGETHER you both can find a treatment to reduce or end the pain.
The specialized providers at Advanced & Minimally Invasive Gynecology who are trained in evaluating and treating vulvodynia can help you make the right treatment choices.
If you think you have vulvodynia or vestibulitis, contact Dr. Frederick Hoover at Advanced & Minimally Invasive Gynecology by calling 407.303.2780 to schedule an appointment.