If you have pain, inflammation, and other symptoms of vulvodynia, you probably want to know whether it can be treated and how fast it will go away. The good news is that a vulvovaginal specialist can treat vulvodynia. However, treatment will take time as this sensitive skin heals from chronic irritation.
What is Vulvodynia?
Medical science describes vulvodynia as chronic vulvar pain that lasts more than three months and has no obvious diagnosis. While the diagnosis might not be evident to most doctors, a vulvovaginal specialist can use specialized testing to find the underlying causes of your pain and help restore your healthy, healed vagina. When tested, most women with vulvodynia have altered vaginal microflora (AVMF) caused by changes to the natural habitat of the vagina. AVMF can cause your vaginal secretions to become harsh irritants to the vulva.
Can Vulvodynia Be Treated?
A vulvovaginal specialist will treat your condition by putting you on a specialized treatment protocol based on testing your vaginal secretions. In a healthy vaginal balance, lactobacilli thrive and maintain an acidic pH that deters the overgrowth of other bacteria and yeasts that can cause problems. The lactobacilli feed on cells shed from the vaginal walls. Hormones and other factors can affect the shedding of these cells, which leaves the lactobacilli without food. Other microorganisms crowd in, turning the vaginal secretions into an irritant. Treatment restores this balance and helps the chronically irritated tissues heal.
How Long Does it Take to Treat Vulvodynia?
The vulva and vestibule (opening of the vagina) have sensitive skin and many nerve endings. In vulvodynia, these nerve endings receive constant stimulation from the damaged cells. During treatment, your protocol will help you avoid most potential irritants. As new cells rise to the surface, the skin sheds the old, damaged cells. Most people need four to six turnover cycles, which take about four weeks. Experienced vulvovaginal specialists like those at Fowler GNY International can help you develop normal, desensitized skin within about a year, although individual results vary. The fewer irritants you encounter during this healing phase, the faster you will see healthy skin emerge.
Will My Vulvodynia Ever Come Back After Treatment?
Managing vulvodynia often requires staying on a modified treatment protocol. This protocol will often keep vulvodynia away for five to ten years or even longer. At some point, you will probably encounter heavy exposure to some type of irritant, or you may have hormonal changes. This can trigger your symptoms to recur. Fortunately, your specialist can adjust your protocol, and you will usually have a quick recovery. Most women reach a point where they can tolerate most irritants without reacting.
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 https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001.