Vulvodynia Diagnosis and Treatment

Vulvodynia is the word for pain in the vulva. Vulvodynia or vulvar pain syndrome is a multifactoral clinical syndrome of vulvar pain, dysfunction, and psychological distress. Vulvodynia is actually a symptom, like stomach cramps, which may have many different causes. Vulvodynia is more common in white women. It’s rare in women of other races. It usually starts suddenly and may last for months to years. Although it isn’t life-threatening, the pain may make you cut back on some of your normal activities. Burning sensations are the most common, but the type and severity of symptoms are highly individualized. Pain may be constant or intermittent, localized or diffuse. The main vulvodynia symptom is pain in your genital area.

Vulvodynia is different from itching or vulvar pruritus. Vulvodynia actually precludes itching because the burning and pain cause an intolerance to scratching. Vulvodynia has been classified into three basic types. First is cyclical vulvitis, where symptoms come and go, often responds to anti-candida therapy given over a long period. Second is dysesthetic vulvodynia is characterized by constant pain, usually burning pain when touched lightly or spasmodic stabbing pains with extreme skin sensitivity and third is vulvar vestibulitis is defined as burning, stinging, irritation of the area on a chronic basis. The treatment depends on the cause of vulvodynia. Tricyclic antidepressants that can help lessen chronic pain include amitriptyline, desipramine and nortriptyline.

Lanolin or vitamin E oil or petroleum jelly or some other ointment (calendula) can be used to coat the vulvar. Wear only all-cotton underwear and loose clothing. Avoid wearing pantyhose. Symptomatic treatment includes sitz-baths, anesthetic gels (lidocaine), topical steroid creams , pain medications, or low doses of antidepressant (sometimes given with an antispasmodic) to deactivate the pain pathways. Wash new underwear before wearing. Always rinse underwear thoroughly after washing to remove soap residue. Don’t wear tight-fitting clothing or jeans. Don’t sit around in a wet swimsuit for a long time. More aggressive medical and surgical treatments may include laser surgery to burn off the painful tissue, or plastic surgery in an attempt to remove the source of the pain.

Vulvodynia Treatment and Prevention Tips

1. Try to avoid using soap in the genital area.

2. Wash new underwear before wearing.

3. Always rinse underwear thoroughly after washing to remove soap residue.

4. Wear only all-cotton underwear and loose clothing. Avoid wearing pantyhose.

5. Don’t wear tight-fitting clothing or jeans. Don’t sit around in a wet swimsuit for a long time.

6. Use only white, unbleached toilet tissue and 100% cotton sanitary products (tampons and pads).

7. Wash your genital area frequently with plain water to wash away any secretions that may cause irritation.

8. Lanolin or vitamin E oil or petroleum jelly or some other ointment (calendula) can be used to coat the vulvar.