Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva includes the:
- Labia—labia majora and labia minora
- Vaginal opening
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The causes of vulvodynia are not completely known, but may include:
- Changes in the vulvar tissue
- Abnormal nerve sensation
Factors that increase your chance of developing vulvodynia include:
Vulvodynia causes the following symptoms of the vulva:
- Pain, which may come and go
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It may include a pelvic exam. Tests may include:
Your bodily tissues and fluids may need to be tested. This can be done with:
- Tests to check for bacteria and/or yeast
- The affected area may need to be examined closely. This can be done using a colposcope to magnify the area.
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include:
- Medicines to manage pain, such as topical anesthetics, estrogen creams, corticosteroid creams, and steroidal injection
- Medicines to manage pain and irritation, such as tricyclic antidepressants
- Other medicines
Therapy can help you strengthen and relax your pelvic muscles. This will ease muscle spasms. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in pelvic floor issues.
Suggested treatments for vulvodynia include:
- Interferon injections
- Laser treatments
The causes of vulvodynia are not clearly understood. There is no known way to prevent this condition.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.