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Vulvodynia - Overview

How is it treated?

There are many treatments for vulvodynia, but what works for someone else may not help you. Work with your doctor to find what is best for you. Even though there is no cure, treatment can help you feel better and lead a full and active life.

Treatment may include:

  • Medicines. Some examples are antidepressants, seizure medicines, nerve blocks, and medicated creams. These can help make the tissues of the vulva less sensitive. And antihistamines can help relieve itching.
  • BiofeedbackBiofeedback. This treatment can help you learn how to control and relax your pelvic muscles. Tightness or spasms in these muscles can make vulvar pain worse.
  • Physical therapyPhysical therapy. Specific exercises can help you strengthen your pelvic muscles.
  • Estrogen creams. Putting this cream on your skin can help relieve pain.
  • Surgery. In rare cases, surgery is done to remove tissue that is very sensitive.

There are other things you can try to relieve your symptoms:

  • Always clean your vulva gently.
  • Avoid soaps and other products, such as vaginal sprays or douches, that irritate your skin.
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton clothes. Avoid nylon and other fabrics that hold moisture close to the skin. This may cause irritation and allow an infection to start.
  • Avoid hot baths, and don't use soaps or bath products to wash your vulva. Rinse with water only, and gently pat the area dry.
  • Relieve itching and pain with a cold water compress or cool baths. Don't scratch the area.
  • Try using a vaginal lubricant, such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly, to reduce irritation from having sex.
  • Stay active. But limit exercises that can irritate the vulva, such as bike riding or horseback riding.

How can you live better with vulvodynia?

When you have vulvodynia, you may find it hard to do your daily tasks. It may hurt to walk, exercise, or sit for long periods of time. And it may hurt to have sex. All of these things can affect your life, work, and relationships.

At times you may feel overwhelmed, tired, and angry. These feelings are normal. Most women who have vulvar pain feel this way at one time or another.

Even though living with vulvar pain can be stressful, the good news is that you can do some simple things to feel better.

  • See a counselor.Cognitive-behavioral therapy allows you to express your emotions and concerns and to learn new ways of coping with vulvar pain. Sex therapy can also help you and your partner find ways to be intimate that don't cause pain.
  • Keep a pain diary. You can track moods, thoughts, activities, and medicines that affect pain. Having a record of pain can help you and your doctor find the best ways to treat it.
  • Get support from other women. A support group, online forum, or chat group helps you share your concerns and hear how other people cope with the pain and challenges of living with vulvodynia.
  • Practice relaxation and breathing exercises.Meditation and guided imagery are two examples of how you can reduce stress and relax your mind and muscles.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 01, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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