Treatment Spotlight: Vulvodynia

It’s normal to feel random aches and pains throughout your body from time to time, but any persistent pain and discomfort, especially in an isolated area, calls for medical intervention. Frustratingly, doctors can’t always pinpoint the precise cause of ongoing pain. 

For many women, this is the case with vulvodynia, which is why we wanted to share more about the condition and how we can treat it.

What Is Vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is chronic pain around the opening of the vagina (vulva) with no known cause. Typically, the condition is diagnosed when it has persisted for at least three months. For some women, the discomfort can last for months or years, and may become so severe that long periods of sitting become uncomfortable.

Symptoms of Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia symptoms may vary from one person to the next. Some women experience the pain in one isolated location, while others feel it in multiple spots. The consistency and severity of pain can also vary, and range from soreness and throbbing to burning and intense stinging, or stabbing sensations. Oftentimes, women with vulvodynia also experience painful intercourse.  Most women describe the are as feeling irritated.

Vulvodynia may be localized or generalized. For those with localized pain, the discomfort is often intensified by a specific trigger, such as sexual intercourse, tampon insertion, wearing fitted pants, or long periods of sitting. It’s also possible to have spontaneous or persistent pain, along with discomfort that worsens under certain circumstances.

Unfortunately, no one knows for sure what causes vulvodynia. Experts have speculated about several possible causes, including inflammation, nerve sensitivity, hormonal factors, and musculoskeletal issues. Sometimes, women who have vulvodynia also experience other pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia and painful bladder syndrome.

Vulvodynia Treatments

The good news is that although experts have yet to understand what causes vulvodynia, we already have treatments to address this painful condition and restore the quality of life for women who are affected by it. Dr. Jodi Ganz of Olansky Dermatology is one of the local board-certified dermatologists who can provide treatment for vulvodynia. 

To support research efforts so experts can better understand the condition, Dr. Ganz is also a member of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISVVD) and the National Vulvodynia Association. She is trained to help patients understand the nature of their vulvodynia, including potential causes or irritants, and can develop an individualized treatment plan to address potentially life-altering symptoms.

Treatment options for vulvodynia can encompass several approaches. “Some women respond well to topical or oral medications,” explains Dr. Ganz. “For others, local anesthetics such as topical ointments can provide symptom relief.” This may be especially useful for women who experience symptoms only at specific times, such as during or after intercourse. We often recommend Pelvic PT, as calming the muscles can help the overactive nerves.

No matter what your precise vulvodynia symptoms are, Dr. Ganz is here to help you find relief. Many women hesitate to seek professional care for vulvodynia due to the lack of observable symptoms or self-consciousness. Don’t let this condition affect your ability to enjoy life to its fullest. Schedule an appointment by calling 404-355-5484 or by sending us a message online.