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Vulvodynia Essential

Diagnosing Vulvodynia

A woman is diagnosed with vulvodynia when her symptoms of pain have lasted for at least 6 months and when other causes of vulvar pain (i.e. vulvovaginal infections) have been ruled out.

Diagnosis can also involve biopsy of any questionable areas, which is when a small piece of tissue is cut out for microscopic examination. Vulvovaginal infections can be ruled out by testing for fungus, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or bacterial infection. A doctor can test for yeast infection by examining vaginal secretions microscopically for the presence of yeast forms. Chlamydia can be tested for when a clinician sends a sample of vaginal secretions to a lab that can look for the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

Gonorrhea is diagnosed through gram stain, detection of bacterial genes or DNA (from the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae), and culture. Gram stain involves smearing a sample of vaginal secretions on a slide and staining it with a dye. This will show whether or not the bacteria is present. Secretions can also be analyzed for presence of the genes of the bacteria. Culture involves incubating a sample of the vaginal secretions to allow the bacteria (if present) to multiply.

A variety of factors need to be considered to make an accurate diagnosis of vulvodynia. Initially, it is important to take a careful medical history. In particular, one should look for an initiating factor such as surgery, childbirth, or change of sexual partner.

Other factors to explore are a relationship between vulvodynia and the menstrual cycle; urethral symptoms; other medical conditions; any medications used ( past or present); any family history (other female family members who have experienced similar symptoms); the use of menstrual pads or panty liners; trauma to the perineum from excessive exercising or bicycle riding; and contraception use. 

Some Essential Self-care tips for Vulvodynia

The following tips may help you manage the symptoms of vulvodynia:

  • Cold compresses. Cool compresses placed directly on your external genital area may help lessen pain and itching.
  • Avoid hot tubs. Spending time in a hot tub may lead to discomfort and itching.
  • Look for triggers and avoid them. The triggers that can make vulvar pain worse tend to be different for each woman. Your observations of what causes you pain are important. Avoid potentially irritating soaps, clothing dyes, creams and bath products.
  • Avoid tightfitting pantyhose and nylon underwear. Tight undergarments restrict airflow to your genital area, often leading to increased temperature and moisture that can cause irritation. Wear cotton underwear to increase ventilation and dryness.
  • Avoid excessive hygiene. Washing or scrubbing the affected area harshly or too often can increase irritation.
  • Accept small steps of progress. Don't expect instant cures. Have confidence that you'll feel better over time.
  • Exercise and stay active. Regular exercise can help ease chronic pain, but stay away from exercises that put pressure directly on the vulva, such as bicycling.
  • Try an antihistamine at bedtime. This may help reduce itching and help you rest better.
  • Work with your doctor. Over time you can work with your doctor to identify the approaches that work best for you.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor about Vulvodynia?

  • Do any tests need to be done to diagnose the condition?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • Will any topical or oral medications be prescribed?
  • What are the side effects?
  • When will this resolve?

Vulvodynia- Essential Vulvodynia, Symptom Vulvodynia, Treatment Vulvodynia

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