Burning. Stinging. Stabbing sensations. These are just some of the ways women have described chronic pain in the vulva, a condition known as vulvodynia. For some women, every aspect of their lives is affected by this constant pain. For others, the pain is caused by pressure or contact, making sitting for long periods of time or sexual intimacy very painful.
The exact cause of vulvodynia is unknown, but experts say it’s not caused by an infection or a sexually transmitted disease. Some studies suggest that vulvodynia may be caused by:
- Injury or irritation to the nerves that control sensation in the vulva
- An abnormal response of vulvar cells to trauma or infection
- Genetic abnormalities that make vulvar cells react to inflammation
- Hypersensitivity to yeast (Candida)
- Spasms or weakness in the pelvic floor
Many women, unfortunately, may see multiple doctors before they are diagnosed correctly and are often treated for non-existent yeast infections that can actually make their pain worse.
If you or a loved one is experiencing chronic pain in the vulva, we urge you to reach out so we can do a thorough physical exam, including tests for certain bacterial and fungal infections as well as skin diseases. Together, we will go through your medical history and try to get to the cause of the pain—and treat it.
The most important message is this: Don’t let embarrassment cause you to suffer in silence. Talk to your healthcare provider and start the discussion that can lead to relief you need.
Source: National Vulvodynia Association nva.org