Vulvodynia is the medical term for vulvar pain, which occurs in the vulva, or the external opening of the vagina. The pain can be localized to one area or in multiple areas of the vulva, and vulvodynia symptoms generally include a burning sensation.
There are two classifications of vulvodynia, called localized vulvodynia and generalized vulvodynia. Localized vulvodynia refers to cases where the pain is experienced only in one area of the vulva. Most women with localized vulvodynia have Provoked Vestibulodynia (PVD), pain that occurs as a result of pressure being applied to the vestibule, or the tissue of the vaginal opening. This pressure is generally linked to things like intercourse, use of a tampon, a female pelvic exam, and long periods of sitting. PVD has two classifications in itself: primary and secondary. Primary PVD refers to cases in which women have been suffering from vestibular pain since their very first sexual encounters. Secondary PVD refers to women who have previously had no pain related to intercourse. In less common cases of localized vulvodynia, pain is experienced in the clitoris. This type is called clitorodynia.
Generalized vulvodynia, or GV, refers to pain that occurs spontaneously and is fairly constant, though there can be pain-free periods of time. The symptoms related to GV are worsened by any activity that applies pressure to the vulva. For some women suffering GV, pain can occur either in a specific area or multiple areas of the vulva.
Vulvodynia is not actually caused by a sexually transmitted disease or an active infection; and while exact vulvodynia causes are unknown, the most common contributing factors for vulvodynia include:
- Injuries or irritation to the pain receptors that relay messages between the spinal chord and the vulva
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- A genetic predisposition to the development of chronic vestibular inflammation, chronic pain, or chronic infection
- Increased numbers of the pain receptors in the vulva
- Increased sensitivity of the pain receptors located in the vulva
- Abnormal responses of cells in the vulva to infection or trauma
Shutting Off the Pain
Because exact causes for the condition are unknown, vulvodynia treatment is usually a method of alleviating symptoms and providing relief from the pain. These treatment options include:
Be open about the pain you’re experiencing! Consult with the caring team of experts at Coyle Institute today!