| Caroline Knight
There is no denying that when vulvodynia strikes, it has takes a toll on your everyday life. Women with vulvodynia struggle with everything from sex to exercise, social activities and even doing their job. It can seriously impair your ability to enjoy your life, and you’ll no doubt be left wondering what can trigger vulvodynia and how you can manage the pain.
Unfortunately there is no definitive cause of vulvodynia, but there’s a lot of speculation about this. A lot of people ask whether vulvodynia is an autoimmune disease (it’s not, but it is often linked to them) and some researchers have concluded that it is most probably a neuropathic issue. Since women who have vulvodynia are sometimes genetically predisposed to chronic pain, this could be a factor. If there are females in your immediately family with chronic pain conditions, this ups the chances significantly.
This article will take a look at what can trigger vulvodynia, and what you can do when it strikes.
What can trigger vulvodynia?
There’s quite a list of things that can trigger vulvodynia. We’ve broken these down into categories.
- Nerve injury or irritation
- Vulvar cells reacting abnormally to trauma or infection
- Vulvar cells responding badly to chronic inflammation (due to genetics)
- Muscle spasms (in the pelvic floor area, as happens with the condition vaginismus)
- Changes in hormones
- Hypersensitivity to vaginal yeast infections
- Overuse of antibiotics (which can also cause yeast infections)
- Sexual abuse
- Pressure on the bowel and/or bladder (from fullness)
- Allergic reactions to chemicals
- Stress (which originates in the mind but takes up residence in your cells and tissues!)
There are plenty of substances out there that can trigger vulvodynia, including:
- Chemical or perfumed soaps, body washes, shampoos and moisturizers (go for plant-based oils and preservative-free emollients every time)
- Allopathic medications
- Vaginal douches
- Detergents and fabric softeners
- Scented toilet paper
- Bleached/chemically treated sanitary products
- Nylon or polyester underwear and pants
- Tight-fitting clothing
- Perfumed contraceptive creams and spermicides
- Chlorine in swimming pools
- Damp swimming costumes or gym clothes left on too long
- Dried sweat or urine on skin or underwear
Certain foods can trigger vulvodynia, and sometimes it’s simply because they make your urine more irritating to your skin. Here are some of the foods you might want to avoid if you have (or are prone to) vulvodynia:
- Goat dairy products
- Wheat gluten
While those food products can trigger vulvodynia, you can also lessen the chances of a vulvodynia flare-up and mitigate its effects by getting more magnesium, vitamin D3, vitamin B12, omega-3 and probiotics through supplements. Make sure you go for high-quality supplements from recommended sources, as not all supplements are equal!
Not getting enough fiber may also play a part in triggering vulvodynia because your bowel movements may not happen as often as they should, so be sure to get plenty of this into your diet too.
Although vulvodynia can sometimes feel like the end of the world when it has you in its grip, rest assured that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vulvodynia can go away on its own, and even when it doesn’t, there are many vulvodynia treatment options that can help a lot. For now, it is best to avoid the things that can trigger vulvodynia, and seek professional help if you can’t handle it alone.