It is estimated that as many as 16% of women have experienced vulvodynia. Not only is the condition painful and frightening, it can affect your relationship too. So, what is vulvodynia and how can it be treated?
What is vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is characterized by a stinging, burning sensation in the vulvar area, which occurs primarily during intercourse. Vulvodynia can appear almost overnight without any apparent cause. In addition to the physical symptoms of the condition itself, many women feel embarrassed and can suffer from low self-esteem, depression and relationship breakdown, especially if the problem persists without resolution.
Frustratingly and worryingly, there’s usually no obvious reason for the condition to appear, meaning that it is often misdiagnosed. In some chronic sufferers, the discomfort is so great that it can prevent them from having intercourse, taking their usual form of exercise, and in extreme cases, even walking.
There is often no specific cause for this distressing disorder, although it is thought that it may be triggered by a traumatic event, such as surgery, childbirth, sexual violence or a serious vaginal infection.
What should you do if you are affected?
If you suffer from vaginal pain, your first course of action should be to seek the advice of a reputable OB/GYN in Orlando and ask for an evaluation for vulvodynia.
Your OB/GYN physician will carry out a pelvic examination in addition to taking cultures to test for bacterial and fungal infections.
Treatment for this condition can range from dietary changes, pelvic floor exercises, and biofeedback to clinical approaches, such as lidocaine ointment to numb the painful area and low doses of antidepressants. In severe cases, painkilling and anti-inflammatory injections may be given into the vulvar vestibule.
In postmenopausal women over 40 years of age, lower levels of estrogen can cause the vagina to become drier. The vaginal and urethral walls also become thinner, which can cause some of the symptoms of vulvodynia, including painful intercourse. You may find that using over-the-counter water-soluble lubricant may help in mild cases.
You should seek professional advice if you think you are suffering from vulvodynia because many other conditions can cause vaginal pain, most of which are very easily treated. It is also important that you talk to your partner so that he understands why you have lost interest in sex.