Could You Have Vulvodynia?
You may or may not have heard of Vulvodynia, and you may have it and not know it. As with many female medical conditions, this is another one that is often misdiagnosed or, worse, remains a mystery to physicians who attempt to diagnose this painful and persistent problem but can’t. Many practitioners are unfamiliar with vulvodynia. Others may be dismissive of your complaints. Because you can’t see the pain, the symptoms are misdiagnosed as psychosomatic, as is the case with many other painful conditions that affect women.
There is hope and treatment for Vulvodynia and we can help at Optimal Hormone Health. But first, let’s look closely at the symptoms and possible causes of this condition. If any of these symptoms sound familiar and you have seen multiple providers to try and get relief, come see us for treatment that will help you get your life back.
What is Vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is chronic pain lasting at least three months of the vulva that does not have a clear cause, such as an infection or cancer. Vulvodynia can last months or years. The vulva covers the outer parts of the female reproductive system, including the labia majora and labia minora, the clitoris, and the opening of the vagina.
Doctors identify the types of vulvodynia based on where someone is feeling pain. Localized vulvodynia is felt in just one spot. For most sufferers, that’s the vestibule, but localized vulvodynia can occur anywhere in the vulvar region. The pain just has to stay in that one spot to fall under the localized definition.
On the other hand, generalized vulvodynia tends to be felt all over the vulvar region. It’s less common but no less serious for sufferers.
Diagnosis of Vulvodynia can be tricky and requires a ruling out of other conditions. The bottom line, a provider needs to take the time necessary to diagnose the condition correctly. Your practitioner may look for yeast, cancer, or STDS, all common vulva-related diseases that could cause pain in the area. Once those have been ruled out, giving up is not appropriate. Since so many health providers are unfamiliar with Vulvodynia, they may not consider that this is the disease causing your misery.
Symptoms and Complications of Vulvodynia
It is difficult to overstate the pain, discomfort, and shame of Vulvodynia. Common clinical complaints include:
Pain with vaginal intercourse, including tampon insertion, tight clothing, prolonged sitting, biking, or other sports.
Burning, soreness, stinging, rawness, throbbing, and itching
Pain might be constant or occasional. It might occur only when the sensitive area is touched. You might feel the pain in your entire vulvar area, or the pain might be localized to a specific location, such as the opening of your vagina.
Vulvar tissue might look slightly inflamed or swollen. More often, your vulva appears normal, possibly leading you to minimize symptoms.
Pain onset can be immediate or delayed and discomfort can persist or resolve on its own.
Most affected women are between 20 and 60 years of age, but symptoms can begin in childhood or adolescence. Additionally, the pain is sufficiently severe to limit sexual function, cause psychological distress, impair relationships, and adversely affect routine activities.
Because Vulvodynia can be so painful, it can keep you from wanting sex, which can cause emotional distress. Knowing something is terribly wrong but not having a reason or treatment can be devastating. Other complications might include:
Anxiety and depression
Altered body image
Relationship problems with your spouse or partner
Decreased quality of life when you can’t escape the pain and engage in everyday activities
Hope and Treatment for Vulvodynia
Treatment options for Vulvodynia might seem overwhelming and complicated. Possible suggestions include medications, hormone creams, pelvic floor exercises, surgery, nerve blocks, and lidocaine. But there are two proven treatments that we offer at Optimal Hormone Health that can make a significant difference.
Duo Shock Wave Treatment
At Optimal Hormone Health we recommend Duo Shock Wave treatment for Vulvodynia. But don’t take our word for it, a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study found a significant improvement in symptoms of Vulvodynia with electric shock wave treatment. Shock wave treatment is painless and quick with no side effects and results can last up to two years.
Hormonal imbalance is associated with Vulvodynia. The treatment? Hormone replacement. Topical estrogen cream can improve the health of vulvar tissue, mainly when the tissue is thin or dry because of a lack of estrogen. Testosterone replacement can also improve women’s sexual health and desire.
Diet is vital to well-being regardless of diagnosis or health condition. Some foods have been implicated in an increase in Vulvodynia pain. Specifically, dairy products, acidic foods, and sugar can exacerbate your situation.
Vulvodynia can cause Stress and relationship problems. Yoga, meditation, and massage can help reduce stress, which can exacerbate your condition. If Vulvodynia is causing relationship issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to a couples therapist. Talking openly about the emotional and sexual consequences of Vulvodynia can bring understanding and comfort.
Vulvodynia: Optimal Hormone Health can help
At Optimal Hormone Health, we improve your health through individualized, proven, and holistic treatment. You don’t have to suffer from Vulvodynia. Call us to discuss your options and get you back on the road to a pain free and robust sex life.