Many medical conditions can cause vulvar symptoms and it is important for you to report any abnormal feelings you are experiencing, especially when they are worrisome and causing difficulties. Some common vulvar symptoms include pain in the vulva, itchiness, and an abnormal sensation such as vulvar burning.
Vulvar pain is the most commonly reported symptom and has a variety of different characteristics. It can be sharp, stabbing, stinging, or even burning. Pain in the vulva may be constant or intermittent. It may also be characterized as generalized, where the pain is felt in the entire general area of the vulva or localized to a specific area of tissue. Women often use words like dull, sharp, throbbing, aching, raw, prickly, cramping, gnawing, sore, stretching, stabbing or paper cut-like when using adjectives to describe vulvar pain.
Pain can be divided into two types: acute and chronic. Acute vulvar pain may mean that an immediate injury has occurred and once the condition is addressed or treated, the pain is diminished. Acute pain may resolve in a short period of time. Chronic pain is more often characterized by a long-term experience.
Since pain is a personal experience, it may be helpful for you to draw a pain diagram to give to your health care professional so that he or she may better understand where you are experiencing discomfort. The National Vulvodynia Association recommends recording your pain with a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) on which pain is rated on a linear scale from 0 (no pain) to 10 (excruciating pain). A pain diary will be helpful and you should record the location, date, time, pain rating from 0-10, and aggravating or alleviating factors. Be sure to bring your records and medical pain record to your medical visits as your provider will use this information to better understand the severity of the symptoms.
Itchiness in the vulva is characterized by an irritation of the vulvar tissues and an intense desire to scratch the affected area. Scratching may, in fact, exacerbate the condition.