Vulval pain is a common symptom affecting many women of all ages, races and backgrounds. There are many causes of vulval pain and these may include active skin infections, irritation from external agents such as antiseptics, and skin diseases specific to the vulva. When vulval pain presents, it is best to consult a doctor who understands the different causes of vulval pain so that he/she can give you the appropriate treatment based on the correct diagnosis. In the majority of cases when this happens symptoms do resolve. However, what do you do when the doctor can find nothing on examination? When all the investigations are normal? When you fail to respond to treatment?
Vulval Pain Syndromes
The Vulval Pain Syndromes typically describe women with unexplained vulval pain. Women complain of longstanding vulval discomfort or pain, characterised by burning, stinging, irritation or rawness. It should be diagnosed by a doctor familiar with the condition who should rule out other causes of vulval pain. Vulval Pain Syndromes are real, physical conditions and can cause considerable disruption to the lives of those they affect.
What are the symptoms and signs?
The pain experienced by women with vulval pain syndromes is very individual. Symptoms can include painful sex, vulval tenderness and soreness.
Often on examination of the vestibule there is tenderness to light touch. There can be red areas at the site of tenderness, but frequently the findings are normal. Just because your doctor cannot see anything does not mean that there is nothing present. Many other skin condition of the vulva present with specific vulval findings eg. Redness and skin thickening
How is it treated?
The treatments available for this condition are very variable. Different doctors treat the condition in different ways but below are a selection of suggested treatments. Not all doctors will use these methods, but you can discuss the different options with him/her. Some treatments will help some women and not others. Treatments range from local anaesthetic cream/gels, vaginal dilators, pelvic floor muscle physiotherapy, psychosexual counselling and rarely surgery. Be careful of non-prescribed creams on the vulva as some can cause vulval irritation. Remember the strict vulval hygiene measures that you should practice
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