What is vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is the ongoing pain and discomfort of the vulva. The cause is unknown, but it is not caused by infection, skin disease or cancer. It is likely that factors relating to the body's nerves, hormones or immune system are involved.
The pain may be limited to only specific areas of the vulva, or it may involve the entire vulvar area.
Women with this condition suffer a burning or stinging sensation at the entrance of the vagina. This may occur with light touch or pressure (or sex), or sometimes just strike out of nowhere.
Like Painful Bladder it probably represents the end-point of several different conditions. The nerve endings can become sensitised after something as ‘simple’ as a yeast (candida) infection.
Some women may be born with a tendency to develop pain in the area, while others develop it after starting a contraceptive. Others may get pain after herpes virus infection. It is commonly seen in association with bladder and muscle dysfunction.
Treatments vary but can include topical medications to reduce nerve impulses, Botox to associated muscles in spasm, physiotherapy and desensitisation to develop confidence and control, and advice about avoiding any irritants (such as perfumed soaps or body washes, waxing/shaving, synthetic underwear). This is a difficult condition to treat in some women.