For most people, inserting a tampon is an ordinary task. If you have vulvodynia, however, putting in a tampon can trigger pain, burning, and rawness. If vulvodynia has made intercourse and even tampons painful, you need the help of a vulvovaginal specialist. This type of specialist has the experience and training to manage complex conditions of the vulva and vagina.
What is Vulvodynia?
If you have vulvodynia, you experience burning, soreness, and even sharp pain affecting your vulva and the opening of your vagina. This condition can wreak havoc on your life, making intercourse painful or impossible. Some women find that the area becomes so sensitive they cannot work out or even wear fitted clothing. Most gynecologists do not have the training or experience to correctly diagnose or treat this condition. The expert team at Fowler GYN International specializes in helping women with vulvovaginal issues, and they can help you resolve your pain.
What Causes Vulvodynia?
Most cases of vulvodynia occur due to altered vaginal microflora. Inside a healthy vagina, squamous cells shed from the vaginal lining provide food for lactobacilli, normal residents that produce lactic acid. They keep the pH of the vagina acidic, which prevents other microorganisms from overgrowing and causing problems.
When this balance is disturbed, less helpful organisms can thrive, causing odor, discharge, and yeast infections. Women with low estrogen levels will produce fewer squamous cells in the vagina, depriving the lactobacilli of their food source. The vaginal secretions become an irritant and inflame the vulva and vaginal opening. The tissue becomes so sensitive that trying to insert a tampon can cause sharp, stabbing pain.
How is Vulvodynia Treated?
Before treating vulvodynia, a vulvovaginal specialist will conduct specialized testing on your vaginal microflora. This requires a small sample of your vaginal secretions, which your doctor will examine.
Testing will look for signs that indicate the overall health of the vaginal tissue and whether the tissue produces enough squamous cells to maintain a healthy lactobacilli population. It will also examine the number of lactobacilli compared to other microorganisms such as yeasts. While yeasts can live in the vagina without causing harm, their presence indicates some level of imbalance. The presence of white blood cells will also signal the presence of an infection.
The results of this test will guide your treatment. Your vulvovaginal expert will work with you on a treatment protocol that brings your vaginal microflora back into a healthy balance. This relieves the pain of vulvodynia for 95% of women who follow their treatment protocol.
Take the Next Step
The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ, can diagnose and treat all types of vulvodynia. 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.