What is Vulvodynia?
The external female genital area is called the vulva. Pain that affects this vulva area is very common. Vulvodynia is pain that lasts for 3 months or longer and is not caused by an infection, skin disorder, or other medical condition.
What does Vulvodynia feel like?
Vulvodynia most commonly is described as burning, stinging, irritation, and rawness. Aching, soreness, throbbing, and swelling also may be felt. The entire vulva may be painful or pain may be centered in a specific area. Symptoms of Vulvodynia may be constant or they may come and go. Symptoms can start and stop without warning, or they may occur only when the area is touched.
What are some of the possible causes of Vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is likely caused by many factors working together. Some of these factors include the following:
- Damage or irritation of the nerves of the vulva
- Inflammation of the vulva
- Long-term reactions to certain infections
- Certain genetic disorders
- Sensitivity to certain foods
- Dysfunction of the muscles of the pelvic floor
- Conditions that affect nearby muscles or bones
How is Vulvodynia evaluated?
If you have vulvar pain, your gynecologist or other health care professional will try to rule out the most common causes of vulvar pain first. You may be asked questions about your symptoms, sexual history, and medical and surgical history. You may be asked when symptoms occur, what treatments you have tried, and whether you have any allergies, chronic infections, or skin problems.
Your gynecologist also will examine the vulva and vagina carefully. A sample of discharge from the vagina may be taken. Your gynecologist may use a cotton swab to touch areas of the vulva. The goal is to find where the pain is and whether it is mild, moderate, or severe. You also may have a biopsy of the vulvar skin.
How is Vulvodynia treated?
Many kinds of treatment are available. No one method works all the time for everyone. It can take a few months before any relief is noticed. Sometimes more than one treatment may be needed. Keeping a pain diary can help you track your symptoms and how they respond to different therapies. In some cases, your gynecologist or other health care professional may refer you to a pain specialist.
What are some steps that I can take to help with my pain?
If you have vulvodynia, gentle care of the vulva is best. Avoid products and other items that may be irritating. The following may be helpful in relieving or reducing symptoms:
- Wear 100% cotton underwear.
- Do not wear underwear while sleeping.
- Avoid douching.
- Avoid irritants, such as perfumes, dyes, shampoos, detergents, and deodorants.
- Clean the vulva with water only.
- Switch to 100% cotton pads if regular pads are irritating.
- Use lubricants during sex, but avoid lubricants with flavor or cooling/warming sensation.
- Rinse and pat the vulva dry after urinating.
- After bathing, apply a thin layer of a preservative-free oil or petroleum jelly to hold in moisture and protect the skin.
- Use Magnetic Vaginal Dilators on a regular basis to relax muscles and prevent Vaginismus.
- Use cool gel packs on the vulva.
Can physical therapy help with Vulvodynia?
Physical therapy is another option for treating Vulvodynia. This type of therapy can relax tissues in the pelvic floor and release tension in muscles and joints. Vaginal Dilator Therapy is a form of pelvic floor physical therapy.
How do I use VuVa Vaginal Dilators?
Directions Before Using your VuVa™ Vaginal Dilators
- Wash dilators with a mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Let the dilators air dry. Vanicream Bar soap is a good option to clean dilators with.
To Get Started
- In a private and comfortable place, lay on your back and put both knees up with your feet on the bed (no wider than your hips) or lay on your side and pull your legs up with a pillow between your knees.
- Lubricate the smallest VuVa™ Vaginal Dilator and vagina canal opening generously with a lubricant your choice. IMPORTANT: Do not use petroleum jelly (e.g., Vaseline). Slippery Stuff is water based and does not cause irritation. Keep all the dilators within reach.
- Finding the right size VuVa™ Vaginal Dilator can be tricky. If you find that you can only tolerate the tip going inside when using the smallest dilator, that’s ok and is not uncommon. However, if that is the case, it may be best that you start with the exercises (See the instructions below). Please do not force the dilator inside.
- Using gentle pressure, insert the smaller round end of the smallest dilator into your vagina. Make sure that the dilator shaft is inserted as deeply as is comfortable for you. Do not insert entire dilator -- leave the larger, round, flat end outside of vaginal opening.
- If there’s no discomfort (you can put the little one inside, squeeze and let go around it on the inside like you’re holding back gas and pee and take it out without any pain or irritation – not even a little bit), you need to use the next size bigger.
- You’re looking for minimal pain when you put the dilator in the vagina (pain level not more than a 1-2/10, with 0/10 being no pain and 10/10 the worst pain ever) —the type that you might just describe as “annoying” or “uncomfortable.” Moderate pain (pain levels 4-6/10) is too much, and severe pain (pain levels 7-10) should be avoided.
- Once you’ve found the proper size, please use your dilator 5-20 minutes twice/day. When you can actively insert and remove the dilator as well as contract and relax around it with no discomfort, move up to the next size.
IMPORTANT - WOMEN: Do not walk around with dilator inserted. Do not use dilators during sexual intercourse. Do not sleep with dilator inserted.
- Wash the vaginal dilators after use with mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Let them air dry.
Use a VuVa™ Vaginal Dilator comparable to your partners size 20 minutes before intercourse to relax tight muscles and bring blood flow to the area. You have now created a relaxed environment for penetration.