Most of us don’t enjoy talking about our vaginal issues. Vaginal burning, though, can be a symptom of another condition. If it doesn’t go away, an expert in vulvovaginal health can guide you through the treatment process and resolve the underlying cause of your vaginal irritation.
What Causes Vaginal Burning?
Vaginal burning has two primary causes. The first and less common is External Irritant Vulvodynia (EIV). This is vulvar pain, discomfort, or burning caused by contact with a topical irritant. Hygiene products often trigger this condition, and a change in products can often resolve it completely.
Gynecologists often record that a patient’s vulvar pain or burning has no known cause. These cases usually have a cause, but the average gynecology practice does not have the experience or testing facilities to diagnose Altered Flora Vulvodynia (AFV) correctly. This common cause of vaginal burning can go undiagnosed for years unless you see a specialist in vaginal microflora.
Altered Flora Vulvodynia happens when the balance of microflora becomes disrupted. Microflora is the term used to describe the microorganisms that inhabit the vagina. Having a good population of vaginal microflora is normal and keeps your vaginal healthy. Disruption of the microflora can cause problematic bacteria or yeasts to multiply more than usual, leading to irritation of the vulva and vagina.
Why Your Vaginal Burning Keeps Coming Back
Getting a correct diagnosis for the cause of your vaginal burning can help you fix it. If the problem has lasted for several months and treatment has not resolved it, consider visiting a vulvovaginal specialist like Fowler GYN International. Your symptoms keep coming back because of an underlying issue, and treatment only masks it.
Your vaginal burning probably keeps coming back because your vaginal microflora has become unbalanced. This causes changes in the vaginal secretions, making them irritating to the skin of the vulva. If you have had these problems for several months, they probably will not resolve independently. A correct diagnosis allows your specialist to develop a treatment plan that restores your normal vaginal microflora.
If you have recurrent yeast infections, for example, changes in your vaginal microflora may be allowing yeasts to proliferate. You may temporarily stop the yeast overgrowth if you treat the yeast infection. However, if the underlying vaginal conditions do not change, yeast will continue to enjoy this environment and thrive there. They crowd out normal bacteria and change the vaginal secretions, so they cause irritation and burning. Restoring the environment of the vagina will naturally bring yeast under control and restore the normal balance.
How is Vaginal Burning Diagnosed?
Vulvovaginal specialists can test samples of your vaginal secretions to look for signs of what is happening inside your vagina. The tests also determine the number of lactobacilli. These healthy bacteria are normal vaginal residents, and their lactic acid production keeps the vagina at a consistent acidic pH. Disruptions in the pH can cause a shift in the microflora that sensitive tests can detect.
Testing can also examine the squamous cells. These cells shed from the lining of the vagina as they mature, and they provide a food source for lactobacilli that keep the vagina healthy. Estrogen levels affect the maturation of these cells, and immature or nutrient-deficient cells do not make good food for lactobacilli. While many women respond to normal estrogen therapy with improved squamous cell health, some might need more individualized support.
How to Treat Vaginal Burning
If you have received a diagnosis of Altered Flora Vulvodynia, your specialist will recommend a customized treatment protocol to improve the health of squamous cells, balance the populations of bacteria in your vagina, and normalize your vaginal secretions. As the skin of the vulva has time to regenerate and bring healthy new cells to the surface, pain, irritation, and vaginal burning will resolve.
Take the Next Step
The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ, can discover the underlying cause of your painful vaginal burning. The team at FGI is led by Dr. R. Stuart Fowler. Dr. Fowler is an Emeritus Mayo Clinic board-certified gynecologist.
You can reach FGI at https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001.