Vulvar vestibulitis is a chronic condition that affects millions of women of various ages and ethnicities. Unfortunately, the condition is not easily diagnosed, so women often go to different doctors trying to get an accurate diagnosis. The failure to get a diagnosis leaves women feeling frustrated and stressed. But what is vulvar vestibulitis, and what are the symptoms?
What Is Vulvar Vestibulitis?
Vulvar vestibulitis, also known as vulvodynia or localized vulvodynia, is a syndrome characterized by burning pain at the opening of the vagina in the area known as the vestibule.
What Are the Symptoms Of Vulvar Vestibulitis?
Burning pain at the vaginal opening is the primary symptom of vulvar vestibulitis. The pain may occur occasionally or can be prompted by pressure applied to the vulva.
The pain associated with vulvar vestibulitis can affect every aspect of life, and that is why some women find it so challenging to deal with. Vulvar vestibulitis can also cause painful intercourse and make activities such as biking or playing tennis difficult. Even having a gynecological examination or sitting for long periods can be painful for women with vulvar vestibulitis.
Other symptoms of vulvar vestibulitis include:
- Unusual discharge
- Urinary urgency or urinary frequency
- Pain when inserting a tampon or intercourse
The symptoms of vulvar vestibulitis may not be the same for every patient.
How Is Vulvar Vestibulitis Diagnosed?
Vulvar vestibulitis has traditionally been diagnosed using a wet-prep pelvic exam. However, this test is not comprehensive enough to identify the underlying etiology of the condition.
Dr. R. Stuart Fowler, vulvovaginal specialist of Fowler GYN International (FGI) came up with an alternative approach for diagnosing vulvar vestibulitis and other vulvovaginal conditions.
After carrying out extensive research over many years, Dr. Fowler discovered that these conditions are often caused by an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
What Is An Altered Vaginal Microflora Pattern?
An altered vaginal microflora pattern is a variant of the known patterns of flora. The vaginal microflora contains a delicate mix of various strains of bacteria, and the ecosystem is normally dominated by good bacteria called lactobacilli.
The good bacteria coat the vaginal mucosal surfaces and provide a defensive barrier against harmful bacteria and other pathogens. However, problems can arise if there is a change in the bacterial milieu, as this can cause the harmful bacteria to thrive. This scenario is known as an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
When the vaginal secretions that proceed from the altered microflora bathe the vaginal mucosal surfaces, they irritate the vestibular tissue. This process results in the symptoms associated with vulvar vestibulitis.
Treating Vulvar Vestibulitis
Dr. R. Stuart Fowler developed the vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test to assist with determining if the vaginal microflora is normal or in an altered state. The VFA test delivers a quantitative analysis of the microorganisms in the vaginal fluid. The results will confirm if there is an altered vaginal microflora pattern present.
The experts in vaginal healthcare at FGI treat vulvar vestibulitis using a treatment protocol of medications and hypocontactant hygiene products. The treatment plan is tailored for each patient and is designed to restore balance to the vaginal microflora.
Hypocontactant skincare products do not contain any preservatives or fragrances that can irritate sensitive external genital tissues. This makes them the ideal solution for women with vulvar vestibulitis.
Patients can expect to see an improvement in vulvar vestibulitis symptoms within 8-12 months.