What Most Women Don't Know About Vulvodynia

What Most Women Don't Know About Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia is a type of pelvic pain; an estimated 16% of all women experience this at some point. Vulvodynia can be located in one specific area of your vulva (called localized vulvodynia) or widespread (generalized vulvodynia). In both cases, vulvodynia causes severe pain and burning, and it can make activities 一 whether sexual intercourse or simply sitting on a chair 一 painful.

Because it's not always easy to talk about pelvic pain, this condition tends to be shrouded in mystery. Below, our team of providers sheds light on how we can help at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia. 

What is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is a chronic condition that causes persistent pain, burning, and discomfort in the vulvar area. Your vulva includes external female genitalia, labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening. Symptoms 一 which include burning, stinging, rawness, aching, soreness, throbbing, and throbbing 一 can happen when you're resting, exercising, sitting, 

The cause of most vulvodynia is unknown, but risk factors include nerve damage, hormonal changes, certain genetic factors, and frequent antibiotic use. 

Four things more women don’t know about vulvodynia 

Because many of the symptoms of vulvodynia are easily mistaken for other conditions 一 itching can also be a sign of a yeast infection. For example, many women may try to self-treat their symptoms. This can lead to a delayed diagnosis.

In the spirit of spreading awareness, here are four facts about vulvodynia that most women don't know:

1. It can be connected to your mental health

One of the most damaging misconceptions is that vulvodynia is purely psychological. Your pain is not in your head! It's a physical condition with various potential causes, including anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. In other words, anxiety and depression can increase your risk of this real, physical, chronic pain condition, but it's not "just in your head."

If you're dealing with chronic pain and mental health conditions, you must also receive treatment for any underlying conditions. Chronic pain can make anxiety and depression worse, and the reverse is true. Anxiety and depression can make chronic pain worse. 

2. It’s not that rare

Although women don't talk about vulvodynia often, it's not rare. Vulvodynia is more common than many realize since it affects up to 16% of women at some point.

It may seem rare, however, because some women struggle to get a diagnosis. About 60% of women see an average of three doctors before getting an accurate diagnosis.

3. It can mirror symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 

With symptoms like burning and itching, some women fear that their symptoms indicate a sexually transmitted infection (STI). While it's essential to rule out infections, vulvodynia isn’t an STI.

4. It can be treated

Living with vulvodynia can be physically and emotionally challenging, but knowing you're alone is essential. Here at the International Spine Pain & Performance Center, we understand the toll that vulvodynia (and any other sources of pelvic pain) can take on your mind and body. That's why we offer regenerative medicine for vulvodynia. 

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a type of regenerative medicine, accelerates tissue healing and includes vulva tissue. Your PRP serum is made from your own blood and rich in growth factors. When administered to vulva tissues, it promotes vascular neogenesis (blood vessel growth), stimulates cell regeneration, and triggers your body's healing processes.

Other treatments may include :

In addition to regenerative medicine, our team offers physical therapy and nutritional counseling in our Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia, offices.

Get help for vulvodynia 

If you're struggling with chronic pelvic pain and suspect you have vulvodynia, don't hesitate to reach out and get the answers you need. Call the closest location or use our online scheduling form to request an appointment.

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