When you aren’t sure what you have, it’s hard to know what questions to ask. If you’ve been experiencing vulvar pain and itching, you may make an appointment expecting to find out you have a yeast infection – only to hear you have something you have never heard of before: lichen sclerosus.
Lichen sclerosus is a skin disorder that causes the skin to become thin, white and wrinkled, causing itching and pain. Lichen sclerosus most often affects postmenopausal women, but there is no final consensus on the cause of lichen sclerosus.
What are the symptoms of lichen sclerosus?
Some women with lichen sclerosus feel dull, painful discomfort in the vulva. Sometimes, mild cases of lichen sclerosus cause no noticeable signs or symptoms.
The most common symptoms include:
- Vulvar itching
- Anal itching, fissures, bleeding, and pain
- Painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Discomfort or pain
- Smooth white spots on your skin
- Blotchy, wrinkled patches
- Skin that easily bruises and tears
- Cracks and fissures in vulvar, anal and perineal skin
- Bleeding, blistering or ulcerated lesions
Are you experiencing these symptoms? You should ask your doctor about lichen sclerosus.
Preparing for your appointment
Before your appointment create a list of information that your doctor may find helpful in making your diagnosis. If you are having a relatively symptom-free day on the day of your appointment, you may forget the severity and longevity of your suffering.
- Your symptoms
- How long you’ve been experiencing symptoms
- Other conditions with which you’ve been diagnosed
- Medical history
- Current prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements
- Questions to ask your doctor
What to ask your doctor about lichen sclerosus
Some basic questions to ask your doctor about possible lichen sclerosus include:
- What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What treatment approach do you recommend, if any?
- What kind of improvement can I expect with treatment?
- Will I need treatment for the rest of my life?
- What self-care steps can I follow to ease my symptoms?
- What can I do to help prevent a recurrence?
- How can I prevent the condition from worsening?
- What is my risk of vulvar cancer? What should I look for?
- What can I do about painful intercourse?
- How often do I need follow-up exams?
Questions your doctor will ask about your lichen sclerosus symptoms
- How severe is your pain or discomfort?
- Do you have pain during sexual intercourse?
- Do you have pain with urination or bowel movements?
- Have you noticed any tearing or bleeding?
- Have you had previous injuries or surgeries in the affected area?
- Have you attempted to treat this condition yourself?
- Have you had prescription treatments for this condition?
- What, if any, other medical conditions have you been diagnosed with?
How will your doctor diagnose lichen sclerosus?
Your doctor may also run tests to eliminate other possible causes for your symptoms, including:
- Lichen planus
- Low estrogen levels and hormonal imbalance
- Infections that can cause symptoms similar to lichen sclerosus
- Biopsy to check for cancer – Women with vulvar lichen sclerosus are at an increased risk of vulvar cancer
Ask about lichen sclerosus treatments
If you are diagnosed with lichen sclerosus, your doctor will recommend treatment to help reduce itching, clear up skin patches and discourage further scarring. Lichen sclerosus rarely gets better on its own.
Lichen sclerosus is one area where Coyle Institute is leading research and treatment using the new TULIP® procedure. The TULIP® is a procedure invented by Dr. Coyle and is a continuation of his original research on Lichen Sclerosus combined with the healing benefits of Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP. With just one TULIP® treatment, women can be relieved of all signs and symptoms of lichen sclerosus. Dr. Coyle has invented this single-treatment protocol to make treatment easier for every woman, but especially to make treatment more accessible to medical travel patients from around the world who can only make one trip to the U.S.
Schedule your appointment today and get on the path to healing.