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Vulvodynia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Signs and Symptoms of Vulvodynia

Symptoms of vulvodynia usually begin suddenly and can last anywhere from months to years.

These are the most common symptoms of vulvodynia:

  • Burning, stinging, or rawness
  • Aching, soreness, or throbbing
  • Itching

You may feel symptoms of vulvodynia:

  • All the time or just once in a while
  • During activities such as exercise, intercourse, or walking -- or even while at rest 
  • While bicycling, inserting tampons, or even sitting
  • In one specific area or throughout your entire vulva

A burning pain is the single most common symptom of vulvodynia. Some women describe it as a knife-like pain or like an acid poured on the skin.

Although the vulva usually appears normal, it may look a bit inflamed or swollen.

The Physical and Emotional Impact of Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia can have a huge impact on a woman's life. It can impair her ability to have sex, exercise, socialize, or work. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study showed that most women with vulvodynia feel ''out of control,'' unable to have sexual intercourse, and unable to fully enjoy life. If this is true for you, seek the support you need.

The Impact of Vulvodynia Symptoms

Vulvodynia symptoms are not life-threatening. Still, vulvar pain can greatly affect a woman's normal activities. For example, if symptoms are severe or make sex difficult, this might have an impact on her relationship. And this, in turn, may affect her self-image and make her feel depressed. Don’t hesitate to seek help. Many women find ways to control the vulvar pain. 

Unfortunately, many health care providers may not be familiar with vulvodynia.  Women suffering from this condition may need to search for health care providers who are knowledgeable about this condition. 

Treatment of Vulvodynia

Although there is no cure, self-care and treatments for vulvodynia can help bring relief. Women with vulvodynia need to identify what works best for them and they may need to try several remedies before finding a combination that provides relief. It is important for women to educate themselves about this condition. They should keep careful records of which treatments were helpful and which were not helpful.

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