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What are the Different Vulvodynia Symptoms?

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  • Written By: P.S. Jones
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2016
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Vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome that affects the female sexual organs. It is a catchall disease, referring to any pain in the vulva that cannot be explained by infection or skin disease. Vulvodynia symptoms include any symptom that indicate discomfort or pain in the vulvar region. Vulvodynia symptoms include burning and stinging as well as irritation and rawness.

There are two major types of vulvodynia: Dysesthetic Vulvodynia and Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome. Dysesthetic Vulvodynia symptoms are a pain that diffuses throughout the vulvar region. This pain can affect the clitoris and the perineum, as well as the mons pubis and the inner thighs. This pain can be either constant or intermittent, but is dependent on any touching or pressure. This type of vulvodynia symptoms may also include inflamed tissue, but it is not always present.

Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome is characterized by pain whenever the vaginal opening is touched, or has pressure applied to it. Women who have Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome may experience intense pain during sexual intercourse, while using tampons, or while wearing tight clothing. Riding horses, bikes or motorcycles may also be painful for women who suffer from this type of vulvodynia. Their vaginal openings will most often be reddened or inflamed.

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The causes of vulvodynia are unknown. Some researchers think that the vulvodynia is caused by an injury, irritation, or damage to the vulvar nerves. It may also be caused by a heightened sensitivity to the yeast that occur naturally in the vulva, or an allergic response to other irritants. There is no evidence that vulvodynia is a sexually transmitted disease or the cause of an infection.

Since vulvodynia is a catchall condition, medical professionals diagnose it by ruling out other common conditions. The doctor will review the patient’s medical history and perform a complete vaginal and vulvar examination. The patient will be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, infection, and skin disorders. The patient may also undergo a biopsy of any suspicious looking skin, or a colposcopy, a procedure where the doctor obtains magnified images of the vaginal system.

Vulvodynia treatment varies with each patient, but without knowledge of the cause - very few patients are cured. Therefore, treatment is focused on relieving vulvodynia symptoms, as opposed to curing the condition. Pharmaceutical treatment options include antihistamines, local anesthetics, or anti-inflammatories. Interferon injections, antidepressants, and anti-convulsants can also be recommended to vulvodynia patients. Patients with Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome may even be treated with some surgical options.

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sunnySkys
Post 4

@JessicaLynn - Sex and the City was a great show, but I think they dropped the ball on this one. But then again, most shows wouldn't include a segment about "female problems" like vulvodynia.

Anyway, it sounds like there aren't a lot of treatments for vulvodynia. And it also sounds like doctors don't really know all that much about it. Sometimes I think the medical establishment doesn't take problems involving the female reproductive system very seriously, and this is definitely an example of that. I think if this were a male problem, there would already be a cure!

JessicaLynn
Post 3

Strangely enough, Sex and the City is the only reason I know what vulvodynia is. In one of the episodes one of the characters goes to see her gynecologist because she's having yeast symptoms.

However, she doesn't have a yeast infection. Her doctor diagnoses her with vulvodynia right then and there. Jokes with the other characters ensue about her vagina being "depressed."

It sounds like in real life, a vulvodynia diagnosis is a bit more complicated and time consuming. I'm sure it would take more than one doctors visit to get an actual diagnosis! I guess you can only expect so much from television, you know?

jennythelib
Post 2

@dfoster85 - I hadn't heard of the pelvic floor therapy. A cousin of mine that I'm really close to also battled symptoms of vulvodynia. Like your friend, she had to try a lot of different things. Estrogen cream was helpful for her and so was avoiding sex (she was able to have sex, and did, but it was always somewhat painful) for quite a while to give herself a chance to heal.

So little is really known about women's sexual response and sexual problems. I would encourage all women with these symptoms to not be embarrassed and to see as many doctors as it takes to get relief. Everyone women who pursues treatment raises awareness in the medical community and has the potential to increase knowledge about this mysterious condition.

dfoster85
Post 1

A dear friend of mine was able to achieve a lot of relief from her vulvodynia, but it was a long and difficult road and she had to be really persistent. A vulvodynia diagnosis doesn't really tell you anything you don't already know. Yep, your vagina hurts, and we don't really know why.

It started for her way back in high school and kept her from having a sexual relationship for a long, long time. Many times, she almost gave up on the idea of treatment and just accepted that she would be alone, but she knew that she really wanted children of her own and someone to share her life with.

She tried a lot of different

things. Antidepressants work for some women, but she didn't get relief from them. Pelvic floor therapy was what was most helpful for her - it was uncomfortable both physically and emotionally, but she was finally able to have a normal sexual relationship and is engaged right now.

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