Disease: Vaginal Pain and Vulvodynia

    Vaginal pain and vulvodynia facts

    • Vulvodynia refers to pain in the area of the vulva and vaginal opening for which no cause can be identified.
    • Vulvodynia is not related to sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
    • The exact cause of vulvodynia is not known.
    • Symptoms include a burning, throbbing, or aching pain that can be localized to one area of the vulva or more widespread.
    • Vaginal itching may be associated with vulvodynia.
    • Vulvodynia can be treated with medications and/or self-care (home remedy) measures. No one treatment is effective for all women.
    • Local anesthetics, local estrogen creams, antidepressants, and anticonvulsive drugs are examples of medical treatments for vulvodynia.
    • Biofeedback, exercises, and nerve blocks may benefit other women.
    • Vulvodynia is not associated with cancer or serious medical conditions, but it can be a source of long-term physical and emotional discomfort.

    What are vaginal pain and vulvodynia?

    Vulvodynia refers to pain in the area of the vulva and vaginal opening. Vulvodynia is considered to be pain for which there is no known cause. It is different from pain that is located deep in the pelvis or internally in the vagina. This article focuses on pain in the vulvar region and at the opening (introitus) of the vagina.

    Vulvodynia can be chronic and can last for years in some women. The degree of severity varies among women. It often occurs in the absence of physical signs or visible abnormalities. It can be severe and can interfere with sexual activity and cause painful intercourse ( dyspareunia).

    What causes vaginal pain and/or vulvodynia?

    It is unclear why some women develop vulvodynia. It is not thought to be related to sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), although some women with vulvodynia have had multiple STDs. Some theories suggest that vulvodynia may be related to damage or irritation of nerves, abnormal responses to irritation or inflammation, allergic reactions, muscle spasms, a history of sexual abuse, or frequent use of antibiotics. Familial or genetic factors have also been suggested to play a role in vulvodynia. Unfortunately, the exact cause has not been determined and most women have no known contributing factors.

    What symptoms are characteristic of vaginal pain and vulvodynia?

    Symptoms of vulvodynia include pain that can be perceived as burning or stinging. The pain may also have an aching or throbbing nature. Sometimes, itching is associated with the pain.

    The pain may be constant or it may come and go. It can occur during certain activities including sex or exercise. It may also occur at rest. Some women report pain that is localized to one side or one area of the vulva, while others have more generalized and widespread pain.

    There are usually no physical signs or changes that accompany vulvodynia, but sometimes there is evidence of inflamed skin.

    What are risk factors for vaginal pain and vulvodynia?

    Since the cause is poorly understood, it is difficult to predict who is at risk for vulvodynia. It can affect women of all ages and races. It can begin as early as adolescence and can occur both before and after menopause.

    What diagnostic tests are used to evaluate vaginal pain and vulvodynia?

    There are no specific tests that confirm vulvodynia, and the diagnosis is made based upon the characteristic symptoms. However, since vulvar and vaginal infections (yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis) are sometimes associated with burning and itching, cultures or other diagnostic tests to rule out infections may be ordered.

    How are vaginal pain and vulvodynia treated?

    Vulvodynia can be managed both by medical treatments and self-care (home remedies). Not all treatments will be effective for every woman, and a woman may have to try different treatments to find the most effective option for her.

    Medications and other medical therapies for vaginal pain and vulvodynia

    Some of the medications that have been useful include:

    • Topical estrogen creams
    • Topical or local anesthetics
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications are sometimes useful in managing chronic pain)

    Other medical therapies for women with severe vulvodynia include injections of interferon or nerve blocks, in which medications are injected to reduce signaling from nerves in the affected area. Biofeedback training and pelvic floor exercises have been helpful for some women. Finally, surgical removal of affected tissue can be of benefit in women with vulvodynia due to vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, a particular type of vulvodynia that is located at the area of the hymenal ring.

    What causes vaginal pain and/or vulvodynia?

    It is unclear why some women develop vulvodynia. It is not thought to be related to sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), although some women with vulvodynia have had multiple STDs. Some theories suggest that vulvodynia may be related to damage or irritation of nerves, abnormal responses to irritation or inflammation, allergic reactions, muscle spasms, a history of sexual abuse, or frequent use of antibiotics. Familial or genetic factors have also been suggested to play a role in vulvodynia. Unfortunately, the exact cause has not been determined and most women have no known contributing factors.

    What symptoms are characteristic of vaginal pain and vulvodynia?

    Symptoms of vulvodynia include pain that can be perceived as burning or stinging. The pain may also have an aching or throbbing nature. Sometimes, itching is associated with the pain.

    The pain may be constant or it may come and go. It can occur during certain activities including sex or exercise. It may also occur at rest. Some women report pain that is localized to one side or one area of the vulva, while others have more generalized and widespread pain.

    There are usually no physical signs or changes that accompany vulvodynia, but sometimes there is evidence of inflamed skin.

    What are risk factors for vaginal pain and vulvodynia?

    Since the cause is poorly understood, it is difficult to predict who is at risk for vulvodynia. It can affect women of all ages and races. It can begin as early as adolescence and can occur both before and after menopause.

    What diagnostic tests are used to evaluate vaginal pain and vulvodynia?

    There are no specific tests that confirm vulvodynia, and the diagnosis is made based upon the characteristic symptoms. However, since vulvar and vaginal infections (yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis) are sometimes associated with burning and itching, cultures or other diagnostic tests to rule out infections may be ordered.

    How are vaginal pain and vulvodynia treated?

    Vulvodynia can be managed both by medical treatments and self-care (home remedies). Not all treatments will be effective for every woman, and a woman may have to try different treatments to find the most effective option for her.

    Medications and other medical therapies for vaginal pain and vulvodynia

    Some of the medications that have been useful include:

    • Topical estrogen creams
    • Topical or local anesthetics
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications are sometimes useful in managing chronic pain)

    Other medical therapies for women with severe vulvodynia include injections of interferon or nerve blocks, in which medications are injected to reduce signaling from nerves in the affected area. Biofeedback training and pelvic floor exercises have been helpful for some women. Finally, surgical removal of affected tissue can be of benefit in women with vulvodynia due to vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, a particular type of vulvodynia that is located at the area of the hymenal ring.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

    Vulvodynia can be managed both by medical treatments and self-care (home remedies). Not all treatments will be effective for every woman, and a woman may have to try different treatments to find the most effective option for her.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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