• Vulvodynia

    Definition

    Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva includes the:
    • Labia—labia majora and labia minora
    • Clitoris
    • Vaginal opening
    Female Genitalia
    si55550966 96472 1 vulva.jpeg
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    The causes of vulvodynia are not completely known, but may include:
    • Infection
    • Changes in the vulvar tissue
    • Abnormal nerve sensation

    Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chance of developing vulvodynia include:
    • Recurrent yeast infections
    • Frequent use of antibiotics
    • Irritation to the genitals by soaps or detergents
    • Genital rashes
    • Previous treatment or surgery to the external genitals
    • History of genital warts
    • Pelvic nerve irritation or muscle spasms
    • History of sexual abuse
    • History of sexual violence

    Symptoms

    Vulvodynia causes the following symptoms of the vulva:
    • Pain, which may come and go
    • Burning
    • Stinging
    • Irritation
    • Rawness

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It may include a pelvic exam. Tests may include:
      Your bodily tissues and fluids may need to be tested. This can be done with:
      • Tests to check for bacteria and/or yeast
      • Biopsy
    • The affected area may need to be examined closely. This can be done using a colposcope to magnify the area.

    Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include:

    Medications

    • Medicines to manage pain, such as topical anesthetics, estrogen creams, corticosteroid creams, and steroidal injection
    • Medicines to manage pain and irritation, such as tricyclic antidepressants
    • Other medicines

    Physical Therapy

    Therapy can help you strengthen and relax your pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in pelvic floor issues.

    Other Treatments

    Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:
    • Interferon injections
    • Laser treatments
    • Surgery

    Prevention

    The causes of vulvodynia are not clearly understood. There is no known way to prevent this condition.

    RESOURCES

    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org/For%5FPatients

    National Vulvodynia Association http://www.nva.org

    Women's Health.gov http://www.womenshealth.gov

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca

    Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org

    References

    What is vulvodynia? National Vulvodynia Association website. Available at: http://www.nva.org/whatIsVulvodynia.html Accessed March 13, 2013.

    Diagnosis and Management of Vulvar Skin Disorders . The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Practice Bulletin No. 93; 2008 (Reaffirmed 2010).

    Vulvodynia. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia.html . Updated August 2010. Accessed March 13, 2013.

    Vulvodynia. National Institute of Child Health & Human Development website. Available at: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/vulvodynia/Pages/default.aspx . Updated November 30, 2012. Accessed March 13, 2013.

    Revision Information

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