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What are symptoms of vulvar problems?

Women with vulvar problems commonly present with one of two symptoms: pain or itching.

A burning pain may involve the entire vulva (vulvodynia) or is focused on the opening (vestibulodynia). Intercourse may be painful or impossible (dyspareunia). Women with this type of pain may be unable to wear pants, ride a bicycle or sit comfortably without a donut cushion.

“In the case of vulvodynia or vestibulodynia, pain is due to increased or inappropriate firing of neuroreceptors in response to minimal, non-painful stimuli, or, in some cases, in the absence of stimuli,” says Dr. Wang. “These patients are exquisitely sensitive to touch, and being brushed with a Q-tip feels like being burned with a lit matchstick.”

Physical examination often reveals a normal-appearing vulva.

“As a matter of fact, abnormalities such as inflammation and infection effectively rule out the diagnoses of vulvodynia and vestibulodynia,” says Dr. Wang.

She also sees many patients with chronic, severe pruritus, which leads to scratching, increased skin trauma and worse itching.

Treatment of vulvodynia (pain involving the entire vulva) and vestibuledenia (pain focused on the vulvar opening) requires a multipronged approach that includes antidepressants, anticonvulsants, physical therapy, biofeedback and treatment of pain-related depression.

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.