You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or primary care provider. In some cases, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the female reproductive tract (gynecologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and to know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do to prepare for common diagnostic tests.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of your key medical information, including any other conditions for which you're being treated, and the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Make a list of questions to ask your doctor.
For vulvodynia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What could be causing my symptoms?
- What tests do you recommend?
- What types of treatments are most likely to improve my symptoms?
- Is this condition permanent or temporary?
- When might I expect to experience relief from my pain and discomfort?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
Jul. 15, 2011
- When did your symptoms start?
- How severe is your pain, and how long does it last?
- How would you describe your pain — sharp or dull, continuous or intermittent?
- Is your pain usually triggered by a specific event, such as intercourse or exercise?
- Do you feel pain during urination or a bowel movement?
- Does your menstrual cycle affect your pain?
- Does anything make your pain better or worse?
- Have you had pelvic surgery?
- Have you been pregnant or could you be pregnant now?
- Have you been treated for urinary tract or vaginal infections?
- Stewart EG. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of generalized vulvodynia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Stewart EG. Treatment of vulvar pain syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Self-help tips for vulvar skin care. National Vulvodynia Association. http://www.nva.org/Self_Help_Tips.html. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Vulvodynia. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp127.cfm. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Kingdon J. Vulvodynia: A comprehensive review. Nursing for Women's Health. 2009;13:48.
- Groysman V. Vulvodynia: New concepts and review of the literature. Dermatological Clinics. 2010;28:681.
- Danby CS, et al. Approach to the diagnosis and treatment of vulvar pain. Dermatologic Therapy. 2010;23:485.