What is Provoked Vestibulodynia?

 A woman lying in bed in discomfort

Provoked Vestibulodynia, also referred to as Vulvar Vestibulitis, is a term used to describe chronic pain and discomfort that occurs in the vestibule, the area around the opening of the vagina inside the inner lips of the vulva. 

This condition refers to recurring pain when attempting sexual intercourse, inserting a tampon, during pelvic exams, and even while wearing tight clothing. Vestibulodynia is often accompanied by vaginismus, an involuntary pelvic muscle contraction, which can cause a lot of pain.

Typically, sexually active women between 20 to 40 years old are affected by Vestibulodynia, however both younger and older women can still be affected. If you have asked yourself what Provoked Vestibulodynia is, this article will walk you through all its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What Causes Vestibulodynia?

The cause of this condition is still unknown. However, it appears to be the result of hypersensitive nerve endings or an overgrowth of nerve fibers in the vestibule area of the vulva, which means that the nerves that conduct pain signals from the vulva to the brain change and become more sensitive. That can explain why regular touch is can be perceived as a highly painful sensation. 

Previous inflammation such as chronic yeast infection, injury, and trauma, including childbirth, laser treatment, or surgery, can cause Vestibulodynia. Other causes could be sensitivity to detergents, soaps, panty liners that cause irritation, allergies, and emotional factors.

How is Vestibulodynia Diagnosed?

In most cases, there are no visible symptoms of Vestibulodynia. However, redness may occur. Diagnosis includes a thorough skin and gynecological examination, lower vaginal swabs to detect any bacteria or yeasts, and a skin biopsy. 

The first step to diagnose Provoked Vestibuldonyia is discussing symptoms and medical history with a healthcare professional. Sometimes doctors suspect the diagnosis based on the patient’s description of the pain, including when and where it occurs. Nevertheless, the examination must be carried out when symptoms are present.

Provoked Vestibulodynia Symptoms

Some symptoms of Vestibulodynia may include:

  • Pain or burning when the vestibule is touched, either during sexual intercourse, tampon use, or pelvic exams.
  • Pain during physical activities such as jogging, cycling, or horseback riding.
  • Pain that is not present all the time.
  • Pain during urination.
  • Pain when wearing tight clothing.
  • Raw or dry vestibule.
  • Redness and sensation of tight skin in the vestibule.

Unfortunately, the pain can be severe, and may prevent intercourse and lead to involuntary muscle spasms in the vagina due to the fear of being hurt during the activity. In several cases, many have experienced pain while sitting or even walking.

Symptoms may alleviate on their own, but they can last for months or even years without treatment.

Vestibulodynia Natural Treatment 

Vestibulodynia treatments aim to relieve pain and discomfort. Because this disorder is considered a chronic pain syndrome, you may have to repeat treatment several times. 

Use the following self-care tips to control the pain and keep the condition from worsening. Take your time and find the one that works best for you. In some cases, a combination of treatments may work best.

  • Physical therapy helps relax muscles and control spasms that can cause pain. Pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback, electrical stimulation, and yoga help train the muscles so the pelvic floor muscles can relax, preventing irritation.
  • Medications such as steroids or even some antidepressants: If these are unsuccessful, you may also try prescribed anticonvulsants. However, some side effects are common.
  • Some individuals use vaginal dilators to gently stretch the area around their vagina and overcome tightness caused by tense pelvic floor muscles. Find more information about how to use vaginal dilators in our blog post.
  • Vestibulectomy is a surgery performed in cases of severe pain to remove the affected skin and tissue. Although it relieves pain in some people, it can make symptoms worse, so it is rarely performed.
  • Therapy or sexual counseling to help with the stress of living with daily chronic pain: Both the patient and their partner, if any, need to understand and learn to cope with how Vestibulodynia can affect the relationship. Being prepared for intercourse physically and emotionally before it occurs is really important, and discovering how your body reacts to sexual stimuli will help you feel more comfortable.

Vestibulodynia Home Remedies

Clothing plays a vital role in easing the symptoms of Provoked Vestibulodynia. It is crucial to keep your vaginal area cool and dry. To do this, wear white cotton underwear during the day and sleep without it at night. 

When you swim or exercise, remove the wet or sweaty clothing as soon as you can. Do not use any tight-fitting skirts or pants and if you wear tights or pantyhose, switch to knee-length options so you do not block the airflow in the vaginal area.

When doing laundry, the products you use to clean your clothes may irritate your vaginal area. Use gentle detergents approved by dermatologists. Double-rinse your underwear in the wash to make certain they are free of soap or any chemicals. Try to avoid fabric softeners.

Furthermore, avoid scented, perfumed creams, soaps, and bubble baths. When bathing, be gentle when you wash. Use your hand and cool or lukewarm water, then a clean towel to dry off. While taking a shower, try to avoid shampoo from getting near your vaginal area. In addition, try to avoid  hot tubs and highly chlorinated pools when possible. 

On the other hand, you can try removing processed foods, caffeine, and sugar one at a time out of your diet and keep track of how your body reacts.

Finally, any activities that put external pressure on your vaginal area can make Vestubulodynia worse. To avoid this, focus on stretching and relaxation exercises like yoga instead of cycling or horseback riding. If you work at a desk, take frequent standing breaks or consider investing in a standing work station.

To create a barrier between your vagina and your clothes, apply a water-based serum to your labia, vulva and perineal skin after showering. With the right treatment and GoLove’s Intimate Serum you will enjoy the sense of soothing moisture, hydration and ease. 

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