Vulvodynia treatments focus on relieving symptoms. No one treatment works for every woman, and you may find that a combination of treatments works best for you. It may take weeks or even months for treatment to improve your symptoms noticeably. Treatment options may include:
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- Medications. Steroids, tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants may help lessen chronic pain. Antihistamines may reduce itching.
- Biofeedback therapy. This therapy can help reduce pain by teaching you how to control how your body responds to the symptoms. The goal of biofeedback is to help you relax to decrease pain. To cope with vulvodynia, biofeedback can teach you to relax your pelvic muscles, which can contract in anticipation of pain and actually cause chronic pain.
- Local anesthetics. Medications, such as lidocaine ointment, can provide temporary symptom relief. Your doctor may recommend applying lidocaine 30 minutes before sexual intercourse to reduce your discomfort. If you use lidocaine ointment, your partner also may experience temporary numbness after sexual contact.
- Nerve blocks. Women who have long-standing pain that doesn't respond to other treatments may benefit from local injections of nerve blocks.
- Pelvic floor therapy. Many women with vulvodynia have tension in the muscles of the pelvic floor, which supports the uterus, bladder and bowel. Exercises to relax those muscles may help relieve vulvodynia pain.
- Surgery. In cases of localized vulvodynia or vestibulodynia, surgery to remove the affected skin and tissue (vestibulectomy) relieves pain in some women.
- 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.