Vulvodynia: Painful vulva
Vulvodynia refers not to a disease but to a symptom, pain of the vulva – a woman’s external genitals. Up to 15 percent of women who see gynecologists experience vulvodynia. The problem is most common among Caucasian women. Several different disorders can cause vulval pain and irritation and misdiagnosis is fairly common, leading to frustration. Here are some tips for coping with the problem:
Doctors – Be an astute health care consumer. Try to find a gynecologist or physician who has experience with vulvodynia or is willing to research and learn. Ask for complete explanations of symptoms, tests and treatments. Change doctors if you don’t get satisfactory answers or results. Surgery should only be considered when all other possibilities have been exhausted. If considering surgery, ask for the phone numbers of past patients.
Educate yourself – There are multiple and possibly overlapping causes for vulvodynia, including allergies, bacterial infections, chemical sensitivities, hormone problems, immune system problems, muscle tension, neurological problems, oxalate sensitivity (a dietary issue), yeast infection, and viral infections.
Be ready to change – Wash your vulva only with clear water and avoid vulval contact with soap, shampoo, creams, lotions, oils, lubricants, contraceptive creams or deodorants. Wear all-cotton underwear and loose clothing. Use white, unbleached toilet tissue and all-cotton tampons or sanitary pads. Wash new underwear and always rinse thoroughly. Change your diet to reduce oxalates, if suggested by your doctor.
Text and illustrations by Kevin T. Boyd
Acupressure for vulva pain
Here is a list of acupressure points for Sex organs on PointFinder.org.
If this is your first time, please read the instructions. Don’t use acupressure to replace standard emergency procedures or licensed medical treatment. If you are seriously injured or have acute symptoms seek urgent medical treatment.