Understanding Vulvodynia: Signs and Treatments

Understanding Vulvodynia: Signs and Treatments

There are many types of pelvic pain, and unfortunately, they can all reduce your quality of life. Vulvodynia is no exception. While it’s not an easy topic to discuss in company, an estimated 14 million women suffer from vulvodynia. 

Below, our team of providers explains what vulvodynia is, seven signs you have it, and how it’s treated.

What is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is a chronic pain condition that contributes to chronic vulva pain. Your vulva includes the opening of the vagina, the labia (both the labia majora and the labia minora), and the clitoris. Any pain in these areas could be related to vulvodynia. 

The cause of vulvodynia is unknown, but researchers suspect that injury to the nerves near the vulva, hormonal changes, or sensitive skin can all contribute to vulvodynia. As a chronic condition, vulvodynia lasts for at least 12 weeks, and can go on for years. This makes sexual intimacy painful and even sitting at your desk becomes unbearable.

Vulvodynia risk factors include anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Even if you receive treatment for vulvodynia, it’s important to also receive treatment for any underlying conditions that may increase your risk of vulvodynia. 

Seven signs you’re dealing with vulvodynia

The most common signs of vulvodynia include:

  1. Burning near the vulva
  2. Soreness
  3. Throbbing or stinging pain
  4. Swollen vulva
  5. Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
  6. Itching
  7. Raw feeling

Many of these symptoms can be signs of other conditions too. For example, another condition, called vestibulodynia, also causes vulva pain, but vestibulodynia only causes pain when pressure is applied. Before you embark on any treatment plan, it’s good to get an accurate diagnosis. Vulvodynia is diagnosed with a pelvic exam, a review of your symptoms, and sometimes a cotton swab test, which checks for localized areas of tenderness. It’s also important to rule out any other conditions that can contribute to these symptoms. For example, bacterial infections can also contribute to burning and itching sensations. 

Exploring treatment options for vulvodynia

Once vulvodynia is confirmed, it’s time to get started with your treatment plan. Thankfully, there are many treatments available to you. Depending on your specific needs, you might benefit from:

Here at the International Spine Pain & Performance Center, we also offer regenerative medicine for chronic pelvic pain. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP), for example, accelerates vulva tissue healing. PRP is a serum made from your blood, and it’s rich in growth factors, promotes vascular neogenesis (blood vessel growth), stimulates cell regeneration, and triggers your body’s healing mechanisms. More blood flow brings more oxygen and nutrients to the vulva to promote pain relief and healing. As a bonus, there are no synthetic ingredients required, so there’s less chance of a reaction.

Don’t wait until your vulvodynia gets worse. As chronic pain management specialists, we know that chronic pain can reduce your quality of life. Our compassionate team will answer your questions and help you get the relief you’ve been looking for. Book an appointment at any of our locations 一 Arlington, Virginia, or Washington D.C 一 and start exploring treatment options today. 

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