- Women's Health
Resources for Soothing Vulvodynia Pain
What is Vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is a chronic pain disorder of the vulva (external female genitalia). The pain can be constant or intermittent and women often describe the pain as sharp or dull. The pain can begin when a woman has intercourse for the first time (known as primary vulvodynia) or it can begin anytime after (known as secondary vulvodynia). Pain can be located around the opening of the vagina or in other areas of the genital region.
It's important to note that this condition is not:
- Caused by a disease
- Caused by masturbation or sexual intercourse
Symptoms of Vulvodynia
Symptoms of vulvodynia can vary greatly from woman to woman. They can be severe enough to disrupt day to day life or mild enough to only cause an occasional discomfort. Most of the time, the genital region appears normal, but some women do report inflammation and/or redness.
Most common symptoms include:
- Intermittent or constant pain that can be anywhere from mild to severe
- Burning sensation
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Pain and/or pressure from sitting or activities such as riding a bike
- Pain from inserting a tampon
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, treatment for vulvodynia can range from simple to quite complex.
- Lidocaine ointments for topical pain relief
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- Prescription pain relievers as well as antidepressants or anticonvulsants that have been proven to aid in pain relief
- Physical therapy can help strengthen pelvic floor muscles
- Biofeedback therapy
- In extreme cases, surgery that removes the affected tissue
It's important to seek a medical professional who understands vulvodynia and pelvic floor pain. There are gynecologists who specialize in pelvic floor pain and this is the doctor who was finally able to help me find relief.
Here are some home remedies that I have found very helpful in the years since my diagnosis with vulvodynia:
- Rinse off after each urination rather than only wiping with tissue to help keep the irritated skin clean and dry. When away from home, I pat dry rather than wipe since I'm unable to rinse.
- Apply vitamin E oil, coconut oil and/or Evening Primrose Oil after each trip to the restroom as this will help not only to protect the skin, but also speed in healing the damaged tissue. I keep a small bottle of oil in a plastic zip baggie in my purse for when I'm away from home.
- Follow a low oxalate diet because some studies have shown that oxalate crystals excreted through urine can damage the tender skin of the genital area. I have found this to be extremely helpful not only for my vulvodynia pain, but also for fibromyalgia pain.
- Use a natural lubricant during sex to avoid irritation from chemicals in traditional lubricants. Read the label carefully to be sure the lubricant is compatible with condoms.
- Apply an ice pack (be sure to wrap in a towel or have some barrier between the ice pack and your skin) to the area to help relieve burning and pain.
- Lean forward when urinating to help keep the urine off the skin.
- Use a donut pillow to help keep pressure off the vulvar area when sitting for extended periods of time.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing, especially pants that put pressure on the genital area such as jeans. Wear all cotton panties and go without panties when you can such as at night.
See below for products that I use and helpful links for more information.
Low Oxalate Information: http://lowoxalateinfo.com
The Vulvar Pain Foundation: http://thevpfoundation.org
Trying Low Oxalate Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TryingLowOxalates/ (This group is amazingly helpful and there is a related group page for members to share recipes.)
More wonderful information on a low oxalate diet: http://lowoxalate.info
Vitamin E Oil
Evening Primrose Oil
I am not a doctor, nurse or health professional. The information I am offering here is strictly from my own experiences with vulvodynia. Always speak to your medical professional before using home remedies or other forms of self treatment.