Some women become afflicted with pelvic pain accompanied by itching, burning, cannot sit without suffering, can’t think about sex pain in the vulvar area. The opening of your vagina, or the vulva can become afflicted with** vulvodynia** spontaneously and though you clearly feel all the symptoms - the physical exam may not be that impressive. So what typically happens? You don’t get help - the condition persists and you suffer.
Alot of women don’t report it because they will examine themselves - see nothing - and feel actually stupid going to the doctor. So be clear - this condition does exist and you can get help.
Symptoms of vulvodynia include:
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
The pain can be constant or intermittent and it can last for months, even years. It can also vanish spontaneously. A rule out diagnosis is vulvar vestibulitis which may cause pain when there is pressure applied to the surrounding area of your vagina (tight clothes, sitting for long times, etc.) In vulvodynia, your vaginal area can be swollen and inflamed or appear quite normal.
Some possible causes:
- Injury to the area
- Past vaginal infections (even just one)
- Allergies/localized sensitivity of the tissue
- Muscle spasms
- Changing estrogen levels (peri-menopause or menopause)
This is actually an under-reported but quite common condition. If you experience these symptoms, you need to be checked out so the doctor can first rule out: yeast infection, bacterial infection, skin conditions, even diabetes. If it is vulvodynia then consider:
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- antihistamines (to reduce the itching)
- Lidocaine ointment
- Topical estrogen
- Trigger point injections
- Certain types of physical therapy
And now a new study suggests that topical Gabapentin helped to reduce or alleviate pain in 50% of patients with the condition who participated in the study. Since many of the above treatments involve drugs with some side effects, a local treatment might be a viable and attractive option to women who have this condition.
Don’t suffer - talk to your doctor.
Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”