Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort in the vulva. The vulva is often called the lips of the vagina. The vulva includes:
Labia (labia majora and labia minora) Clitoris Vaginal opening Female Genitalia
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.
The causes of vulvodynia are not completely known but may include:
Infection Changes in the vulvar tissue Perhaps abnormal nerve sensation
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors are thought to increase the risk of vulvodynia:
yeast infections Frequent use of antibiotics Irritation to the genitals by soaps or detergents Genital rashes Previous treatment or surgery to the external genitals
genital warts Pelvic nerve irritation or muscle spasms History of sexual abuse History of domestic violence
Symptoms of vulvodynia may include:
Pain of the vulva, which may come and go Burning of the vulva Stinging of the vulva Irritation of the vulva Rawness of the vulva
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include:
Pelvic exam Tests to check for bacteria and/or yeast Magnified exam, using a colposcope—visual examination of the vulva and vagina using a low-power microscope Biopsy
—removal of a sample of tissue for testing
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include:
To help manage pain:
Topical anesthetics (eg,
Estrogen creams Corticosteroid creams Injections of steroid into the skin—may be used
For pain and irritation relief:
Tricyclic antidepressant medications—research has shown a potential effect
Other medications that are sometimes tried include:
Therapy can help you strengthen and relax your pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. You will need to see a specialist in pelvic floor issues.
Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:
Interferon injections Laser treatments Surgery
The causes of vulvodynia are not well-understood. There is no known way to prevent.
Last reviewed January 2009 by
Ganson Purcell Jr., MD, FACOG, FACPE
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a
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