Women with chronic vaginal pain often struggle to get a diagnosis because it’s a condition that is not widely researched or easily recognized. Consequently, they are often left frustrated in their efforts to find out how to stop the chronic vaginal pain they are experiencing.
What’s Behind Chronic Vaginal Pain
Chronic vaginal pain is often the result of a condition known as vulvodynia. Vulvodynia is persistent pain or discomfort at the vaginal opening or vulva, which lasts for three months or more.
Vulvodynia pain does not have an apparent cause and is often described as burning, stabbing, or searing. The pain may vary based on location and persistence and is so severe for some women that it affects routine activities and quality of life.
Women with vulvodynia often endure chronic pain on a daily basis, which makes activities such as sitting for long periods, riding a bike, or using a tampon excruciating.
Itching, irritation, rawness, stinging, discharge, and painful intercourse are some of the other symptoms of vulvodynia.
There are two types of vulvodynia – generalized and localized. Generalized vulvodynia occurs throughout the vulva and does not have a specific trigger. In contrast, localized vulvodynia affects a particular area of the vulva, and the pain occurs when pressure is placed on this spot.
How To Stop Chronic Vaginal Pain
While treatment for chronic vaginal pain is available, it’s vital to get a proper diagnosis and determine the underlying cause.
The underlying cause of chronic vaginal pain is often an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
An altered vaginal microflora pattern occurs when there is a shift in the normal vaginal milieu. The vaginal microflora consists of good bacteria known as lactobacilli as well as bad bacteria. When the vagina is in a healthy state, the good bacteria dominate the ecosystem and prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms.
When the balance of microbes in the vagina is disrupted, it can result in the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, which changes the composition of the vaginal fluid. The secretions irritate the vestibule (tissue within the vagina), sparking a variety of symptoms, including rawness, pain, and burning.
Identifying The Cause Of Chronic Vaginal Pain
The vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test was developed by board-certified gynecologist Dr. R. Stuart Fowler of Fowler GYN International.
The VFA test is an advanced diagnostic technique that provides a quantitative analysis of the vaginal constituents, to ascertain the state of the vaginal microflora.
Treatment For Vulvodynia
There is no quick fix for vulvodynia. It may take several months before patients see a response to treatment, so they must be prepared to stick to the treatment protocol to get the relief they need.
The customized treatment plan typically includes medication and hypocontactant skincare products.
The medications contain the nutrients needed to move the vaginal ecosystem towards normal. This will differ for each patient depending on the results of their VFA test.
Hypocontactant skincare products are also included in the treatment for vulvodynia because women with the disorder generally have sensitive external genital tissues. Hygiene products such as soaps, douches, and bubble baths contain irritants that can aggravate the vaginal tissues and lead to symptoms associated with vulvodynia.
How Soon Will You See Results?
The results of vulvodynia treatment are not immediate, as it can take up to 4 months to experience a response. When the vaginal microflora is once again in balance, patients will experience relief from chronic vaginal pain. This can take 8-12 months.
Chronic vaginal pain is a debilitating problem that requires expert diagnosis and treatment. It’s therefore essential to visit a vulvovaginal specialist to receive the individualized vaginal treatment protocol required to resolve the issue.