Vulvar Pain – Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Clinic
What Is Vulvodynia (Vaginal Pain)?
Vulvodynia is persistent pain of the vulva, the area around the opening of the .
The vulva includes the opening of the vagina, the pubic mound, the inner and outer labia (vaginal lips), and the clitoris.
In people with vulvodynia, there's no identifiable cause for the pain, such as a cut or infection.
An estimated 9 to 18 percent of women between ages 18 and 64 experience vulvar pain at some point, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Vulvar pain can feel different for different people.
Symptoms of vulvodynia may include:
- Burning or stabbing pain
- Vaginal itching
- Soreness or rawness (feeling like something rough is rubbing on the area)
- Painful intercourse
- Throbbing pain
Some women have pain in a specific area of the vulva, such as the clitoris or the vaginal opening. Others experience pain all over the vulva.
The pain may be constant for some women, while others may feel pain only when something touches the area. Some women feel pain when washing the area or having sex.
No one treatment works for everyone with vulvodynia. If you're experiencing vulvar pain, talk to your doctor about what treatments might work best for you.
Treatment options include:
- Prescription skin ointments or hormone creams
- Medications, including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and pain relievers
- Injections of anesthetic (numbing) medications
- Physical therapy (exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles, or electrical stimulation)
- Complementary treatments (such as acupuncture and massage)
Surgery may be an option for people with some types of vaginal pain. During the surgery, your doctor will remove tissue from the painful area of the vulva.
Surgery isn't recommended for most people with vulvodynia.
There are a number of steps you can take at home to help ease vaginal or vulvar pain:
- Avoid tight-fitting underwear, pantyhose, and pants
- Wear 100-percent cotton underwear
- Don't douche
- Clean the vulva with water only (avoid vaginal wipes, deodorants, bubble baths, and scented soaps)
- Use lubrication during sex
- Apply cool packs to the vulvar area to reduce pain and itching
- Avoid exercises or activities that put pressure directly on the vulva, such as bicycling and horseback riding
- Take 5- to 10-minute sitz baths in warm water, followed by moisturizing the area
What Is Vulvar Vestibulitis?
Vulvar vestibulitis is persistent vaginal pain located in the vulvar vestibule. The vulvar vestibule is the area around the opening of the vagina.
Vulvar vestibulitis is sometimes referred to as localized vulvar pain syndrome. Usually there’s no obvious cause of the vaginal pain.
People with vulvar vestibulitis may have vaginal pain in the following situations:
- Vaginal intercourse
- Tampon insertion
- Prolonged sitting
- Wearing tight clothing
People with vulvar vestibulitis often describe the condition as a burning sensation in the area around the outside of the vagina.
Video: Vulvodynia: Current Trends in Treatment & New Research | #UCLAMDChat Webinars
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