Vulvodynia is a gynecological disease often characterized by itching, inflammation, or stinging sensation at the vulva around the opening of the vagina. Also known as vulvar dysesthesia, this chronic painful ailment is frequently faced by numerous women throughout the world. Although there is no single cure for this troublesome disease, doctors often employ different approaches to find the right treatment for vulvodynia by trial and error.
Symptoms of Vulvodynia
Patients of this disease mainly experience a constant or intermittent painful sensation at their vulvar region which could be unprovoked or might also occur under some physical provocation such as attempted vaginal penetration during sexual intercourse.
Unfortunately, many doctors fail to recognize the conditions of this disease and wrongly suggest the patients to see counselor for their psychological problem. Therefore a careful diagnosis is quite important for the detection of vulvodynia.
Diagnostic Tests for Vulvodynia
Doctors perform a number of tests to diagnose vulvodynia properly. Through a physical examination the vulvar area is carefully investigated to ensure that the patient did not get any sexually transmitted disease. A Q-tip test is performed afterwards in order to find the painful area.
Doctors often use different treatment options depending on the condition of the disease in the patient. Treatment for vulvodynia could be categorized on the basis of different types of medications:
1) Topical creams: Topical treatments are mainly used to diminish the associated symptoms.
These are not effective in removing the underlying causal factors of this disease. Usually three types of topical creams are prescribed:
- Anti-inflammatory cream: These creams are quite useful in assuaging the pain of the swollen and irritated vulva.
- Anesthetics: Patients having vulvar vestibulitis normally use this cream to numb the area immediately before sexual activities. These creams are also useful in relieving pain from vulva.
- Hormones: These topical creams contain female estrogen as the key component. Women having vulvodynia often use this cream to the external part of vagina in order to thicken the fragile tissue and enhance the flow of blood in that area. Patients might experience mild side effects like itchiness for the first 4 to 6 weeks of use.
2) Oral medications: Doctors usually prefer oral treatment for vulvodynia under three conditions:
- Pain due to the damage of nerve: Two types of medications are used to heal this condition: anticonvulsant and antidepressant drugs. Anticonvulsant drugs make your damaged nerves less sensitive to any stimulation which mitigates the associated pain. Tricyclic antidepressant drugs are used to restrict the signals from the damaged nerves to the brain. Although these drugs have a few side effects, however, these are found to be quite effective for women having vulvodynia.
- Preventing infection: It is believed that vulvodynia is often caused by viral infection due to human papilloma virus, bacterial proliferation, and yeast infection. By examining you condition doctors might prescribe specific oral treatment for vulvodynia. However, one has to be careful about the selection of the drug. For instance, some antibacterial drugs could worsen your yeast infection by destroying the friendly bacteria.
- Relief from pain: If doctors fail to detect the core reason of vulvodynia these drugs are used to get relief from pain. However these drugs are addictive in nature and should only be prescribed by an expert chronic pain specialist.
3) Physical treatment procedures: Two most effective physical therapies available for vulvodynia patients. These are as follows:
- Biofeedback techniques: This modern technique uses a biofeedback machine to rectify the unstable and strained muscles in the walls of the pelvis of vulvodynia patients. This in turn alleviates the symptoms like shooting or stabbing pain sensations.
- Acupuncture: Although many patients have achieved satisfactory result from acupuncture technique, nevertheless it is believed that this technique could only provide temporary relief from the pain of vulvodynia.
4) Surgical technique: This treatment for vulvodynia is considered as the last resort for getting rid of this life-disrupting disease. Surgical therapy mainly involves the complete elimination of major as well as minor vestibular glands.
Although some doctors prefer laser surgery for treating this syndrome, however, this surgical method is not effective enough and in 1997, National Institute of Health in the United States has recommended in a symposium that laser surgery should not be used for treating vulvodynia patients.
With a number of treatment options you could easily overcome vulvodynia syndrome. Let your doctor know every minute detail of the symptoms and other relevant problems you are facing due to this disease so that he/she might diagnose your case precisely.