What's the Treatment for Vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia can be complicated. There's no known cause or catch-all cure. But the goal of vulvodynia treatment is simple: Make the pain stop.

If you have this condition, prepare to experiment with a lot of different methods. Consider seeing a vulvovaginal specialist, dermatologist, or neurologist in addition to your gynecologist. They may recommend some or all of the following treatments:

Biofeedback Therapy

In this technique, electrical sensors are placed on certain parts of your body. They give information about your body's response to pain. For vulvodynia, biofeedback therapy focuses on helping you relax your pelvic muscles. When you anticipate pain, you may contract those muscles, which can actually cause you to have pain.

Medication

Over-the-counter meds offer short-term relief. Antihistamines offset itching. Local anesthetics, like lidocaine ointment, numb the pain.

You can also apply prescription hormone creams directly to your skin. These contain estrogen or testosterone.

Oral prescription medications that block pain for other conditions may reduce the symptoms of vulvodynia. These include antidepressants and anti-seizure medications.

Nerve Block

You have certain nerves that carry pain signals from your vulva, or vaginal area, to your spinal cord. During a nerve block, your doctor injects anesthetic into those nerves to stop the signal. This may provide short-term or long-term relief, especially if other treatments haven't worked.

Pelvic Floor Therapy

The muscles of your pelvic floor support your uterus, bladder, and bowel. When you're in pain, you may tighten these muscles without even knowing it. Pelvic floor therapy -- a form of physical therapy -- involves exercise to relax those muscles, which may be causing additional pain when they're tight.

Trigger Point Therapy

When you have a knotted muscle in your neck, a massage helps smooth it out and get the blood flowing again. Trigger point therapy does something similar. This form of massage therapy locates the trigger point, or contracted muscle that's causing pain, and works it out.

Surgery

This is usually the last resort, if it’s used at all. Your doctor might recommend it if you have localized vulvodynia (doctors call this “vestibulodynia”), which means you feel pain in the skin around the opening of your vagina. Removing that tissue surgically may relieve the pain.

When looking for ways to relieve the pain caused by vulvodynia, you may lock in on the right path quickly. Or, it could take weeks or months to find the right combination of treatments. Be patient during the process. Every step toward a life with less pain is the right one.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on January 31, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Vulvodynia."

National Vulvodynia Association: "What is Vulvodynia?" "What Causes Vulvodynia?"

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Vulvodynia."

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