Vulvodynia - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Vulvodynia is a condition of the female reproductive system in which pain and discomfort occur outside the genital area known as the vulva. It occurs without any underlying cause and may last from days to months. The symptoms it causes are pain and itching around the genitals up to such an extent that sitting for a long time or having sex becomes an arduous task for you. If you have any signs and symptoms of vulvodynia, you should not ignore them due to embarrassment. Many treatments can help relieve symptoms. At times examination can help detect the underlying cause. Therefore, you should visit the healthcare provider soon for evaluation. 


Types 


There are two types of vulvodynia, either generalized or localized. It affects the outer genitals, which include the vaginal opening, clitoris, labia. 



Generalized vulvodynia;


It is a type of vulvodynia in which pain occurs in the vulva at different times and locations. It may be constant or may occur once in a while.


Localized vulvodynia;


In this kind of vulvodynia, pain occurs in one part of the vulva. Upon touch or pressure, it may cause a burning sensation. It may also hurt upon sitting for a long time and sex. 



Symptoms 


The characteristic symptom of vulvodynia is pain in the outer genital area. The other signs and symptoms of vulvodynia are;


  • Burning

  • Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)

  • Throbbing

  • Itching

  • Soreness

  • Stinging

  • Rawness



The pain around the vulva may be persistent or intermittent. It may aggravate when the sensitive area is touched. Also, it may be localized to one position or generalized. It may cause soreness and inflammation of the vulvar tissues. 


The symptoms of vulvodynia may occur;


  • All the time or just once in a while

  • During activities like sex or walking

  • While resting

  • While bicycling, inserting tampons, doing any physical activity, or even sitting


Causes


The exact cause of vulvodynia is unknown. According to experts, it may occur due to reasons like;


  • Inflammation

  • Injury to nerves in the area-neuropathic problems

  • Genetic factors

  • Hormonal factors

  • Musculoskeletal problems 


Risk factors 


The risk factors for vulvodynia can be;


  • Anxiety

  • History of abuse

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Depression


Other conditions that resemble the symptoms of vulvodynia are;


  • Painful bladder syndrome

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Temporomandibular disorder


Complications 


Vulvodynia is not a life-threatening condition, but it can affect you emotionally because it hinders your sexual life and physical activity. You may fear having sex due to vaginismus- spasm of vaginal muscles. It can also cause other complications like;


  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Relationship problems

  • Decreased quality of life

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Altered body image


Prevention 


To prevent vulvodynia, the following tips may help.


  • Wear pure cotton underwears

  • Do not use douches and deodorants on the vaginal region

  • Do not use scented toilet paper

  • Do not use fabric softener for panties

  • Use pure cotton pads and tampons

  • Avoid pools rich in chlorine and hot bathtubs


Conclusion 


Vulvodynia is a condition of the female reproductive system in which pain and discomfort occur outside the genital area known as the vulva. It occurs without any underlying cause and may last from days to months. The symptoms it causes are pain and itching around the genitals up to such an extent that sitting for a long time or having sex becomes an arduous task for you.


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