Vulvodynia: what it is, symptoms, treatments (medicine, ointment)

Vulvodynia is a medical condition that causes discomfort in the vulva region. This disease can cause symptoms such as pain and local burning, and affects about 16% of women.

There is no cure for this condition, but following treatment correctly can decrease or even eliminate symptoms. Check out more details below!

What is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is a condition characterized by severe pain and burning in the woman’s intimate region, which may be specific, occurring only in the clitoris, lips or vestibule (outside), or generalized (throughout the region).

The American School of Obstetrics and Gynecology defines vulvodynia as a pain in the vulva, which lasts 3 months or more, and which may appear suddenly or begin to manifest gradually.

Symptoms can occur spontaneously (for no apparent reason), during vaginal sex, with touches and stimuli (in the gynecological exam, for example) or even practicing physical exercises, such as riding a bicycle or horse.

The condition can cause severe pain and great limitations for women, but as it is not caused by infections, anatomical changes or trauma, the condition tends to be difficult to diagnose.

Researchers and doctors still find it difficult to give treatment parameters to vulvodynia, which varies for each patient.

Types of vulvodynia

Vulvodynia can be classified in 2 ways according to how it manifests itself or by the regions it affects.

Spontaneous or provoked

In the spontaneous type, the symptoms appear and persist for no apparent reason, whereas in the provoked type, the symptoms occur after touching, stimulating or movements that affect the vulva region, such as sex or physical exercises.

Generalized or localized

It is also possible to classify vulvodynia as generalized, in which the pain spreads throughout the outer region of the vagina, or localized, when it occurs at specific points, such as the clitoris or the labia.

Causes

The exact cause of vulvodynia is not yet known, but there is research that links it to psychological conditions, such as depression and anxiety , or also to childhood events, such as sexual abuse or chronic stress .

Therefore, emotional conditions can be closely related to symptoms and manifestations.

In addition, vulvodynia may be related to autoimmune diseases or nerve problems, which affect the correct processing of pain.

What is pointed out is that some factors are associated with the emergence of this condition, among which we can mention:

  • Pain or irritation of the nerves of the vulva;
  • Inflammation of the vulva;
  • Long-term reactions to certain infections (candidiasis, chlamydia, HPV);
  • Genetic factors;
  • Sensitivity to certain foods;
  • Dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles;
  • Conditions that affect muscles or bones near the vulva.

Symptoms

Pain is the most common symptoms, but can also occur:

  • Stitches in the outer region of the vagina;
  • External burning without organic cause;
  • Pain during sexual intercourse;
  • Pain to dry the pee;
  • Pain in the vulva region when wearing tighter clothing;
  • Burning sensation when using common or intimate soaps.

How the diagnosis is made

Vulvodynia is a condition that has a diagnosis of exclusion, that is, the gynecologist first rules out the most common causes. For this, your doctor may question the symptoms, your medical and sexual history, as well as possible allergies, infections or previous illnesses.

From there, the professional examines the vulva and vagina carefully, in order to find out which are the pain points and the intensity, which can be from mild to severe.

Is there a cure?

No. However, treatment can decrease or even eliminate symptoms, allowing the woman to lead a normal life.

What are the treatments?

The treatment for vulvodynia must be defined according to each situation, being able to combine different therapies.

Among the options, it is generally recommended to first use pain medications, in addition to changing some dietary practices, seeking psychological help and complementing the treatment with a specific physiotherapy.

It is very important to perform multidisciplinary treatment accompanied by the responsible gynecologist, after all, vulvodynia is a condition that affects the patient’s quality of life, which needs to be well attended to improve the situation.

Read more: Mindfulness apps support psychotherapy

Symptom reduction

In some cases, it is necessary for the patient to use medications or products to help relieve symptoms, as long as they are recommended by the doctor.

Among the options that can promote improvements in pain and irritation are analgesics, for pain and irritation, and tranquilizers, to control anxiety, for example.

Pelvic physiotherapy

This therapeutic modality aims to strengthen the female pelvic muscles (close to the hips), so that the woman can have greater control over contractions and relaxation, and can alleviate pain.

Through breathing techniques, massage of specific points and electrical stimulation, pelvic physiotherapy seeks to relax the muscles of the region and assist in returning to the woman’s sexual and daily activities.

Psychological monitoring

Vulvodynia pain can be associated with physical, sexual and emotional components. Therefore, psychological monitoring seeks to work on emotional aspects that may cause or trigger pain.

Food changes

The food retraining is a component for treating vulvodynia. It consists of reducing or eliminating foods that can aggravate the symptoms of this condition.

Among some of the options to be rethought are: foods with great allergenic potential (lactose, gluten ), caffeine, processed or processed foods, and acidic foods, such as lemon.

However, it is important to reinforce that each organism reacts in a different way, so it is recommended to look for a nutritionist to perform an ideal treatment for you.

Medicines

Vulvodynia treatments are used to relieve symptoms, as the condition cannot be cured. The indication of medications depends a lot on the patient’s condition and, therefore, medical monitoring is essential.

Among the options are:

Creams and ointments

Creams and ointments can be indicated to relieve burning and irritation in the outer region of the vagina.

Among the options is Lidocaine , which is an intravaginal topical anesthetic, which acts by decreasing local sensitivity. It has a long-lasting action, acting deeply on the mucous membranes.

Read more: What is the best type of ointment for discharge?

Antidepressants

Antidepressants with sedative properties can help to reduce the symptoms triggered by emotional conditions.

The use of these drugs is usually effective in treating chronic pain without clear causes, as they modify the way neurotransmitters in the brain transmit pain signals.

Among the options is Amitriptyline Hydrochloride .

Analgesics

Indicated for pain relief and sensitivity of the external region, in addition to reducing the sensations of stinging and discomfort, analgesics can be prescribed to ease the discomfort.

Among the options is Gabapentina .

Attention!

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Living together

Some tips can help patients cope better with vulvodynia:

Know your body

Knowing your own body is very important for patients who live with vulvodynia. Touching the intimate region, knowing what gives pleasure and discovering the sensitivity of the vaginal region can be essential for the woman to maintain a healthy sexual route.

As the condition can cause pain in sex, touching the body itself helps to understand which areas cause pain or not, avoiding the manifestation of symptoms and making sex comfortable.

Read more: What is masturbation: feminine, masculine, infantile, anal, is it sex?

Use lighter fabrics

Some fabrics, such as jeans, can cause pain due to friction with the vulva. Avoiding the use of these materials can help to reduce discomfort. In addition, lightweight fabrics prevent the intimate area from becoming stuffy and create discomfort.

Take care with the use of intimate soaps

It is common to find in the intimate soaps a substance called propylene glycol, which when in contact with the vagina can cause pain and burning. Therefore, a good alternative is to look for soaps that are neutral, free of this component.

Try to use latex-free condoms

The latex present in common condoms can aggravate the symptoms of vulvodynia. However, there are options without this component, which can be found in pharmacies or even on the internet. It is important to test and talk to your doctor to find out which option will be best for you!

Wear cotton panties

The recommended is always to use cotton panties, as they are the ones that cause less pain.

In addition, sleeping without panties is also a great option for those with vulvodynia. This is because, when we leave the pubic region free of synthetic and very tight fabrics, we decrease the chance of infections.

Look for other hair removal alternatives

Waxing can attack the vulva and cause even more pain and local discomfort.

Therefore, whoever opts for epilation, it is recommended to remove the hair with an electric razor or even with blades, depending on how your body will react to each of the alternatives.

Make sitz baths

Sitz baths with chamomile or pink flogo (medical recommendation indicated for pain, burning, itching and discharge) help to relieve pain and burning. However, it is important to make sure the hygiene of the basin to be used and not to use hot water.

Prefer coconut oil

Like intimate soaps, lubricants also contain the substance propylene glycol. Therefore, a good option is to use coconut oil instead of the lubricant.

The product, in addition to preventing the symptoms of vulvodynia, prevents candidiasis by having antifungal properties.

Prognosis

It is important to note that vulvodynia is not sexually transmitted and does not have a bad prognosis.

Although there is no cure, several treatments are available in order to minimize pain and irritation and, if done correctly, bring more comfort and quality of life to the patient.

Complications

The condition itself does not cause any dysfunction in the body, but it does have an impact on the routine, preventing sexual life from being maintained and even common activities. Vulvodynia can sometimes become frustrating for the patient, as treatment and diagnosis are difficult.

The disease is not only painful, it can end up being an emotional burden in the lives of many women in their intimate relationships. In addition, many of them do not seek medical help because they are embarrassed to talk about it and because of the stigma surrounding the disease.

It is very important to seek treatment with qualified professionals for this condition, after all quality of life and health are essential to achieve happiness.

How to prevent?

As the causes of vulvodynia are not well understood, forms of prevention must include basic health care, especially intimate and emotional care. Some tips include:

  • Avoid using irritating intimate products (such as soaps);
  • Keep gynecological appointments up to date;
  • Pay attention to lubrication during sex;
  • Avoid stress and anxiety;
  • Wear light clothing;
  • Have a healthy routine, with balanced meals and physical exercises.

So if you know someone who suffers from any of these symptoms, share this article to let others know what resources to look for to treat vulvodynia.

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