Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Getting around vulvar pain

Published:Monday | September 3, 2018 | 12:00 AM

For women, one of the most sensitive areas of our body is the vagina. It is also one of the places that needs a lot of attention because, at times, in spite of our efforts, unexpected health complications may occur. Vulvodynia or vulva pain is one such condition that disrupts daily activities and pricks at one's state of mind.

Gynaecologist Dr Nastassia Tate explained that at least 16 per cent of women have reported this condition, which can last for a minimum of three months and a maximum of several years.

"Less than 10 per cent of these females will have recurrent symptoms. Also, there are a few common links for the condition that makes ladies vulnerable. Increased sensitivity, nerve damage, muscle spasms, hormonal changes and a history of sexual abuse are a few," the doctor told Flair.

The exact cause of this genital pain is unknown. However, there are ongoing research aimed at deciphering the factor or factors that make women susceptible to the painful malady.

 

SYMPTOMS

 

A burning sensation, raw odour, aching, throbbing, and itching of the vulva are the usual complaints that women with the illness have described. These can be felt when you're resting, exercising, during sexual intercourse, or at the insertion of a tampon.

Additionally, along with the emotional trauma that accompanies the pain, it becomes the major factor that predisposes ladies to psychological distress.

Depression and anxiety disorders, for instance, are a couple of the common mental-health disorders that have resulted from chronic vulva pain. A woman's sex life is at risk, too. She could become sexually dysfunctional if the pain gets overbearing.

At times, vulvodynia is mistaken for other illnesses. For example, trichomoniasis, an infection that causes vulva discomfort, itching and pain during sex, an allergic dermatitis (allergic eczema) and menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness and cramps in the vagina are a few misleading ailments that confuse many.

Getting relief from vulva pain also includes identifying irritants that could worsen the situation.

"If you are aware of the triggers, you'll know how to avoid them and ease your discomfort. Using dermatologically approved soaps, avoiding using fabric softener on your underwear, and aim for unscented toilet paper and topical agents is one of the best strategies to relieve yourself. Also, white cotton underwear, pads, and tampons should become your best friends," Dr Tate advised.

 

GETTING RID OF THE PAIN

 

There are several treatment options available to appease the soreness and discomfort of vulvodynia. However, it's not guaranteed that the first one you try is right for you. The fact is, you may have to experiment with a few or use a combination methods to obtain the best results.

As the doctor said, "Speak to your doctor immediately if you believe that you are experiencing these pains. You may be directed to use an anaesthetic cream or oestrogen to apply to the area. Painkillers and nerve blockers are other options, too. For your sexual gratification, behavioural and sex therapy can be used to reduced the effects, and over-the-counter lubricants can be used to help reduce the friction and discomfort."

rocheda.bartley@gleanerjm.com