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Vulvodynia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Treatment of Vulvodynia: Self-Care

Here are a few things women can do to help relieve symptoms of vulvodynia or keep them under control.

Avoid Potential Irritants

It may help to avoid things that could be irritating the vulva. These might include certain soaps, medications, or douches. Here are a few tips:

  • Use dermatologically approved detergent and don’t use fabric softener on panties.
  • Use unscented toilet paper that’s soft and white.
  • Wear 100% white cotton underwear, menstrual pads, and tampons.
  • Avoid getting shampoo on the vulvar area.
  • Avoid perfumed creams or soaps, pads or tampons, and contraceptive creams or spermicides.
  • Avoid hot tubs or pools with lots of chlorine.
  • Rinse the vulva with cool water after urination and intercourse.
  • Avoid foods that make urine more irritating. This may include foods such as greens, beans, berries, chocolate, or nuts.
  • Wear loose-fitting pants and skirts; don’t wear pantyhose.
  • Keep the vulva clean and dry.

Help Ease Pressure

Certain activities put pressure on the vulva. To ease the pressure:

  • Use a water-soluble lubricant during sex.
  • Avoid activities that put direct pressure on the vulva. This includes bicycling and horseback riding.
  • Sit on a foam rubber doughnut.

Relieve Pain

These steps may help relieve vulvar pain:

  • Soak in lukewarm or cool sitz baths.
  • After intercourse, apply ice or a frozen gel pack wrapped inside a hand towel. 
  • Alternatively, topical heat applied with a heating pad can reduce pain in some women with vulvodynia.
  • Try relaxation techniques.

Treatment of Vulvodynia: Medication, Therapies, and Surgery

There is no one treatment for vulvodynia that works for all women; you may need to try a combination of treatments for the best results. These are types of treatment for vulvodynia your doctor may suggest. Also, remember that chronic pain can affect you emotionally. Consider therapy or a support group.

Medications

  • Local anesthetics, such as lidocaine
  • Topical estrogen creams
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Nerve blocks
  • Interferon injections

Therapies

  • Physical therapy, which involves exercise to strengthen pelvic muscles and lessen muscle spasms
  • Biofeedback, which helps you learn to relax vaginal muscles to lessen pain
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