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What are causes of vaginal pain?

Celeste Robb-Nicholson
Internal Medicine
Vaginal pain is categorized based on your symptoms and what the doctor finds during your evaluation. The following are some of the more common conditions:
  • Vaginal atrophy. Lower estrogen levels cause the vaginal lining to thin and secretions to diminish, resulting in dryness and irritation, which can make intercourse or pelvic examinations painful.. Changes in the potential hydrogen (pH) balance can make the vagina vulnerable to infection -- a condition known as atrophic vaginitis. If untreated, this problem may lead to further thinning and even ulceration of the vagina.
  • Vulvodynia. Vulvodynia is pain with no identifiable cause that may come and go in different areas, including the clitoris, perineum( the tissue between the vagina and anus), pubic area, and inner thighs. Symptoms include burning, stinging, and irritation.
  • Vaginismus. This condition is characterized by involuntary spasms of the muscles in the outer third of the vagina in response to any attempt at entry, making intercourse impossible.
  • Vulvar vestibulitis. This is a condition in which the inner labia and vaginal opening become chronically inflamed and irritated. Pressure to the area from any source -- be it having sex, riding a bicycle, or even wearing tight pants -- can cause extreme tenderness. The exact cause of vulvar vestibulitis is unknown.
  • Adhesions (internal scar tissue). Abdominal surgery (including cesarean sections and hysterectomies) can create adhesions, which can bind internal organs together or to the pelvic wall. Scars from an episiotomy (an incision in the perineum to enlarge the vagina during childbirth) can also create adhesions. Adhesions can lead to painful sex and interfere with a woman's ability to have an orgasm.

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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.