Having pain “down there” isn’t normal. But it’s also not totally unheard of either; in fact, up to 16% of women may suffer from a specific type of pain in their vaginal region called vulvodynia. Vulvodynia is a condition that causes pain in a woman’s vulva, the outside part of the female’s lady parts. Unfortunately, many women suffer silently with their vaginal pain. In this blog, our Las Vegas gynecology team has taken the time to shed some light on this sensitive subject.
The female anatomy is complex, and there’s a lot of moving parts to consider. Vaginal pain isn’t the same for all women, and it may not even be in the same region of the reproductive organs for every patient. Let’s cover where vaginal pain often occurs by categorizing the types.
Vulvodynia is a chronic, burning pain of the vulva that continues for more than a quarter of a year. Others have described it as stinging, rawness, or throbbing. It’s sometimes accompanied by swelling. The symptoms vary greatly from person to person, and there’s no clear cause. However, suspected culprits may include:
Painful sexual intercourse that interferes with sexual function is called dyspareunia. While it can affect both men and women, here, we’re only talking about vaginal pain during sex. This is usually described as a sharp, intense pain that is tied to sexual activity, whether it’s during, or soon before or after the act. Others describe it as dull or aching. This pain in women can be located either in the vagina or the urinary organs. It’s sometimes accompanied by other irritating symptoms like burning and itching. There is a long list of possible causes for this condition:
There’s a third type of vaginal pain that is called vaginismus. With vaginismus, the muscles inside the vagina spasm uncontrollably. It can interfere with sexual intercourse and cause severe pain, burning, and stinging, sometimes even making penetration impossible. The causes are often tracked back to physical trauma or emotional fears.
Sometimes, your pain won’t fit into any of the above categories. When that happens, it could mean that your vaginal discomfort is caused by something else. Current infections, genetics, hormonal changes, cancer, cysts, or polyps are all factors that increase your chances of experiencing vaginal pain. If you’re struggling to relieve your vaginal pain, our Las Vegas team of gynecologists at My Virtual Physician is here to help.
The first step to relieving your vaginal pain is to take detailed notes. Start a pain diary and write down your pain level throughout the day. You can use your pain diary to narrow down the pattern and cause of your vaginal pain. Take note of what helps versus what worsens your pain. Don’t forget to include the foods that you eat and the activities you participate in.
While you’re making your pain diary—you can try these tips to provide vaginal pain relief:
If documenting your vaginal pain and making small lifestyle changes listed above don’t work, don’t despair. There are still plenty of treatment options to cure, or at least manage, your vaginal pain.
Some women have found that biofeedback and physical therapy can help strengthen pelvic muscles, providing some vaginal pain relief caused by poor muscle tone.
If you need more immediate results, you might consider some medications that can bring vulvar pain relief, including topical anesthetics for numbing, hormonal creams, or even some antidepressants. Medications that treat vaginal dryness may also be helpful in treating dyspareunia. Some topical corticosteroid creams may also relieve vaginal pain. Talk with your doctor about what pain-relief method is right for you.
If physical therapy or medication is not for you, there is another option on the table. Believe it or not, sexual therapy is often an effective method to reduce vaginal pain, especially when it has a psychological component due to past trauma.
Nobody deserves to live in pain. If you’re suffering from any sort of vaginal pain, don’t keep it secret. Talk confidentially to our online board-certified OBGYNs to get help and relief. Schedule your appointment today.