How Do You Know if You Have Vulvodynia?

The stinging, burning, and pain from vulvodynia can significantly impact a woman’s life. Vulvodynia is often a chronic condition, and many women have been told their condition has no determinable cause. Fortunately, vulvodynia can be treated by an experienced vulvovaginal specialist. 

What is Vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is typically defined as chronic pain in the external female genitals (the vulva and labia) that lasts more than three months and has no known cause. However, Dr. Fowler of Fowler GYN International has determined that vulvodynia is caused by altered vaginal microflora (AVMF), making it a treatable condition. 

How Do You Know if You Have Vulvodynia?

Women with vulvodynia experience pain in the vulva and sometimes other areas, including the labia. This pain may always be present or occur whenever something touches the painful area, even clothing. Other symptoms may include:

  • Itching and burning
  • Discharge
  • Vaginal odor
  • Aching or throbbing
  • Pain during intercourse

Some women with vulvodynia have so much irritation and injury to the vulvar tissues that they can barely tolerate contact with clothing, much less lead a normal life. 

What Causes Vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia occurs when conditions in the vagina allow an AVMF to develop. In a healthy vagina, lactobacillus bacteria consume mature cells shed from the lining of the vagina, producing lactic acid as a natural byproduct. This lactic acid produces an acidic atmosphere in the vagina. The lowered pH limits the growth of problem bacteria and yeast, keeping their populations small and harmless. 

When this balance becomes disrupted, vaginal secretions can contain bacterial or yeast products that irritate and damage the delicate skin of the vulva. These altered vaginal secretions cause chronic inflammation and trauma to this sensitive tissue, resulting in chronic pain, hypersensitivity, and other symptoms. 

How is Vulvodynia Treated?

Dr. Fowler will diagnose your vulvodynia and determine its cause using a Vaginal Fluid Analysis. This test measures several vaginal health indicators, including:

  • The number and health of lactobacillus
  • The number and health of squamous cells (food for the lactobacillus)
  • Overgrowth of yeast
  • Populations of unwanted bacteria
  • The presence and type of white blood cells

Once the causes of your AVMF have been determined, Dr. Fowler will assign you to one of over 40 treatment protocols designed to provide results. 

Should I See a Vulvovaginal Specialist for My Vulvodynia?

Most gynecologists consider vulvodynia to have no known cause, so they have no effective treatment methods. A gynecologist is not a specialist in vaginal microflora and does not have the testing available to diagnose AVMF. A vulvovaginal specialist like Dr. Fowler understands the underlying factors creating your condition, allowing him to offer a real, lasting solution. If you have been told your vulvodynia has no physical cause, you should seek a specialist’s opinion on vulvovaginal health. 

Take the Next Step

The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ specialize in the treatment of vulvovaginal conditions. The team at FGI is led by Dr. R. Stuart Fowler. Dr. Fowler is an Emeritus Mayo Clinic board-certified gynecologist.

You can reach FGI at, or by calling (480) 420-4001.

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