Vulvodynia is one of the most common vulval disorders and can affect women of any age. The condition can often affect women who are healthy in every other way and symptoms include unexplained and persistent pain in the skin surrounding the vagina (the vulva).
This condition is often a long-term problem and can cause distress and suffering. However, there are treatments that can help relieve these pains. Most people with vulvodynia experience continual pain in the vulval area, however, the vulva usually looks quite normal.
This type of condition may cause stinging, burning or sore feelings, or it may be a generalised background ache which becomes worse when seated. Some people find the pain is triggered when the area is touched, either during sex or when a tampon is inserted. The pain may just be limited to one area, such as the vagina opening. Other people find the pain becomes widespread and can affect the inner thighs and buttocks.
Some vulvodynia conditions are combined with conditions like vaginismus, which is an involuntary tightening of the muscles around the vaginal area. Other typical conditions that can accompany vulvodynia include interstitial cystitis, which is a bladder condition, irritable bowel syndrome or painful periods.
Some other typical conditions which can cause pain in the vulval area include:
– vaginal infections or persistent vaginal thrush
– sensitivity to products used around the vulva, like soaps or bubble bath
– decrease to levels of the hormone oestrogen which can cause dryness particularly for menopausal women
– herpes infection
These sorts of conditions can often cause reductions in sex drive and may also be linked to low mood or depression. Many people find it’s difficult to talk about such a sensitive condition and can start to feel quite isolated. It’s important to realise that vulval disorders don’t go away of their own accord. If you feel it would be difficult to speak with your GP about a condition of this nature, Dr Tania Adib is a specialist gynaecologist in the London area and expert in the diagnosis and treatment of vulval disorders and other conditions. Get in touch to find out more.