The main vulvodynia symptom is pain in your genital area, which can be characterized by:
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
The pain you experience may be constant or occasional and can last for months or even years, but it can vanish as suddenly as it started. You may feel the pain in your entire vulvar area (generalized), or it may be localized to a certain area, such as the opening of your vagina (vestibule).
A similar condition, vestibulodynia, may cause pain only when pressure is applied to the area surrounding the entrance to your vagina.
Vulvar tissue may look minimally inflamed or swollen. More often, your vulva appears normal.
When to see a doctor
Although women often don't tell their doctors about the problem, vulvodynia is a fairly common condition.
If you experience pain in your genital area, discuss it with your doctor, or ask for a referral to a gynecologist. It's important to have your doctor rule out more easily treatable causes of vulvar pain, such as yeast or bacterial infections, other skin conditions, and medical problems such as diabetes. It's also important not to repeatedly use over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections without seeing your doctor. Once your doctor has evaluated your particular symptoms, he or she can recommend treatments or ways to help you manage your pain.
July 17, 2014
- Stewart EG. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of generalized vulvodynia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 11, 2014.
- Stewart EG. Treatment of vulvodynia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 11, 2014.
- Self-help tips for vulvar skin care. National Vulvodynia Association. http://www.nva.org/Self_Help_Tips.html. Accessed May 11, 2014.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecologic problems FAQ127. Vulvodynia. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq127.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140511T1425064797. Accessed May 11, 2014.
- Crum CP, et al. Diagnostic Gynecologic and Obstetric Pathology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 11, 2014.
- Labwohl MG, et al. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 11, 2014.
- Waldman SD. Atlas of Uncommon Pain Syndromes. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 11, 2014.
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