Vulvodynia and Painful Sex

>> Thursday, January 23, 2014

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We have had a lot of questions lately about different causes of painful sex and what causes ongoing pain around the vagina and mons pubis area. This is a difficult condition to deal with and can be just as debilitating as endometriosis and chronic dysmenorrhea.

Vulvodynia is chronic pain in the area around the opening of your vagina for which there is no identifiable cause. The pain, burning or irritation associated with vulvodynia may make you so uncomfortable that sitting for long periods or having sex becomes unthinkable. The condition can go on for months or years, but it can vanish as suddenly as it started. Vulvodynia can have a huge impact on a woman's life. It can impair her ability to have sex, exercise, socialize or work.

The pain you experience may be constant or intermittent. 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, vulvar vestibulitis, may cause pain only when pressure is applied to the area surrounding the entrance to your vagina.

Many women with vulvodynia have a history of treatment for recurrent vaginitis or vaginal yeast infections. Some women with the condition have a history of sexual abuse. But most women with vulvodynia have no known contributing factors. Vulvodynia isn't sexually transmitted or a sign of cancer.

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.

So what causes it in the first place? Where does it come from and how does it start? Doctors and researchers have found an association in women that have had:
  • Previous nerve injury or irritation.
  • Abnormal response of vulvar cells to an infection or trauma
  • Genetic factors that make the vulva respond poorly to chronic inflammation
  • Hypersensitivity to yeast infections
  • Muscle spasms
  • Allergies or irritation to chemicals or other substances
  • Hormonal changes
  • History of sexual abuse
  • Frequent antibiotic use
Some of the most common symptoms of vulvodynia are:
  • Burning, stinging or rawness
  • Aching, soreness or throbbing
  • Painful intercourse (dysparunea)
  • Itching
There are some things you can do to help yourself get through flare ups, and some things you definitely want to avoid. I've listed a few here for you.
  • Always wear 100% cotton panties during the day and no panties at night
  • Avoid use of tight fitting clothing and pantyhose
  • Use unscented toilet paper that’s soft and white, or unscented baby wipes
  • Avoid getting shampoo on the vulvar area.
  • Avoid perfumed creams or soaps, pads or tampons, and contraceptive creams or spermicides
  • Avoid foods that make urine more irritating; this may include foods such as greens, beans, berries, chocolate or nuts
  • Cleanse with natural emollients like olive, grape seed, or almond oil and plain water
  • Avoid douching
  • Use natural lubricants during intercourse and avoid products with propylene glycol
  • Cleanse or dab the vulva with cold water after urinating
  • Apply ice or gel packs to area prior to or after having intercourse
  • Topical anesthetics that contain lidocaine or capsaicin applied 30 minutes prior to sex or any activity that could trigger vulvar pain will numb the affected area (avoid cortisone topical steroids); this can be used instead of ice.
  • Avoid activities that put direct pressure on the vulva; this includes bicycling and horseback riding
  • Use a donut pillow when sitting for long periods of time
  • Avoid hot tubs and pools that are chlorinated
  • Soak in lukewarm or cool baths
  • Topical heat applied with a heating pad can reduce pain for some women
  • Some antidepressant and anti-seizure medications are known to have pain-reducing qualities
  • Trigger-point injections of steroids or Botox
  • Patients who see a physical therapist who is experienced in treating women with vulvodynia can see marked improvement in symptoms after a series of sessions; the therapist works on stabilizing muscle tone to improve contraction strength and structure of pelvic floor muscles, which can be a potential trigger for pain
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Biofeedback, cognitive and behavioral therapies (CBT) and supportive talk psychotherapy can help patients develop self-regulation strategies to cope with the pain and psychosocial distress that can accompany Vulvodynia
  • And, as a last resort, surgical procedures (perineoplasty or vestibulectomy) remove tissue that is causing the pain
I hope this helps all of you who suffer with this. Don't forget, because WaterWorks is an FDA-cleared, all natural product that uses no chemicals, it is a wonderful way to ensure excellent feminine hygiene. WaterWorks uses plain water and can be used externally and internally for cleansing. You will love it and not want to travel without it.

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