Definition

Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva includes the:

    
  • Labia majora and labia minora
  • Clitoris
  • Vaginal opening
  • Female Genitalia

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  • Causes

    The cause of vulvodynia is not known. Some possibilities include:

        
  • Injury or irritation of vulvar nerves
  • Inflammed tissue
  • Abnormal response to infection or trauma
  • Risk Factors

    Vulvodynia is more common in women who are younger. Other factors that increase your chance of developing vulvodynia include:

        
  • History of vulvodynia
  • Chronic pain or disorders associated with chronic pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Some mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Recurrent yeast infections
  • Frequent use of antibiotics
  • Irritation to the genitals by soaps or detergents
  • Genital rashes
  • Previous treatment or surgery to the external genitals
  • Pelvic nerve irritation or muscle spasms
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

        
  • Pain, which may come and go
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Irritation
  • Rawness
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It may include a pelvic exam. The affected area may need to be examined closely. This can be done using a colposcope to magnify the area.

    Your bodily tissues and fluids may need to be tested. This can be done with:

        
  • Tests to check for bacteria and/or yeast
  • Biopsy
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

    Medications

        
  • Topical medications that are applied to the skin, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, or anesthetics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Prescription pain relievers
  • Physical Therapy

    Therapy can help you strengthen and relax your pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in pelvic floor issues.

    Other Treatments

    Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:

        
  • Injections
  • Nerve stimulation or nerve blocks
  • Surgery
  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent vulvodynia.