2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 18:44
Vulvodynia has multiple origins, but this very real disease affects almost one in seven women. What can you do if you have it?
What is this?
The term vulvodynia literally means pain in the vulva, and it is absolutely not an imaginary problem. In addition to causing physical symptoms, vulvodynia can affect several other aspects of life. Often it limits the sexual experiences of affected women and harms their relationships.
In reality, vulvodynia is a symptom that can be caused by several different problems. Women who suffer from it often describe it as a burning sensation or shooting pains throughout the vulvar region. Vulvodynia is closely related to a condition called vulvar vestibulitis, which is characterized by painful sensations near the opening of the vagina.
It was recently discovered that the number of women suffering from vulvodynia - a disorder characterized by vulvovaginal pain that is sometimes chronic and incapacitating - was significantly underestimated. According to a new study conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, approximately 16% of women surveyed aged 18age 64 had experienced chronic vulvar pain for at least three months.
"Until recently, all genital pain was considered a psychosexual phenomenon," said Dr. Elizabeth Gunther Stewart, director of the vulvovaginal service at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston. “Little research has been done on vulvar conditions, and medical schools and nursing schools offer minimal instruction in vulvovaginal problems. »
Suffering in Silence
Sharp pain and burning sensations in the vaginal area - this is a subject that few women are willing to discuss freely. It also seems that many women with vulvodynia suffer in silence or are misdiagnosed.
According to the study in question, 40% of women decided not to seek help for their vulvar pain, and 60% of those who wanted treatment consulted three or more doctors before receive an accurate diagnosis.
The vulva is the outer part of the female genitalia. It consists of the inner and outer labia, the clitoris and the outer part of the vagina. Women with vulvodynia experience pain in the genital area.
“Usually, women come to their doctors complaining of burning and tingling sensations without any signs of infection or vaginal disease,” explained Dr. Karen Berkley, professor from neuroscience tothe University of Florida at Tallahassee.
In many women, episodes of vulvodynia last several months, and the pain may be constant or sporadic. In some cases, the tissues look swollen, but more often they maintain a normal appearance. Activities like walking, sitting, and exercising tend to make the pain worse.
“Other women don't complain of spontaneous pain, but suffer a lot during sex,” said Dr. Stewart. Often women complain of a yeast infection that won't go away or urinary symptoms, but their cultures come back negative. »
The cause of vulvodynia remains unknown, but some affected women have a history of recurrent yeast infections and sexual abuse. Vulvodynia is not caused by sex and is not transmitted through physical contact.
According to research from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, women with vulvodynia may be particularly sensitive to pain in other parts of the body.
This study, led by Dr. Jutta Gieseke, an instructor at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center in Michigan, found that some women have an increased sensitivity to pain caused by pressure in peripheral areas of the body, including the tibia, thumb and deltoid (large triangular muscle that covers the joint ofthe shoulder and whose function is to raise the arm laterally). This finding suggests that vulvodynia likely involves nerves in the vaginal area and other parts of the body that are particularly sensitive.
“Women with vulvodynia are more likely to have other pain syndromes. The few studies conducted to date suggest that vulvodynia occurs commonly in people with endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia,” Dr. Berkley said. But further studies are needed to confirm this link.
Current treatment for vulvodynia is based on symptom relief. Options include antidepressants, biofeedback, lidocaine (an anesthetic), topical creams (low-dose hormones or steroids), and sitz baths. Treatment must be tailored to each patient because no panacea has yet been discovered.
Pregnancy is an exceptional event in life. If it is a source of joy for most women who experience it, it can also be a source of major discomfort for others
As baby grows in our womb, our center of balance is altered and we suddenly adopt questionable postures which aggravate our back pain. Advice from Claudia Brown, perineal physiotherapist
Experiencing pain and suffering is part of life, but untreated pain can cause fear, anxiety and other symptoms
A baby teething is not easy! Here are 10 articles that can help you relieve the temporary pain of teething in babies to restore their beautiful smile
As parents, it's normal for us to worry about the pain in our children's feet. This is even more true if we are experiencing the same kind of problem. Podiatrist Dr. Marie-Michelle Fecteau sheds light on the matter