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What exactly is vulvodynia?

If a diagnosis of vulvodynia has left you feeling puzzled and distressed, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone, because there are many other women out there suffering from the condition.   But what exactly is vulvodynia, and what causes it?

What exactly is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia refers to pain, discomfort and burning around the opening of the vagina.   Vulva pain that lasts for upwards of 3 months and is not linked to a specific medical condition such as an infection or skin disorder is classified as vulvodynia.   The pain with vulvodynia is often so debilitating that it affects the overall quality of life. 

Vulvodynia pain can be constant or it may be triggered by touch or pressure.  The latter is known as provoked vulvodynia, and it can impact a woman’s ability to have sexual intercourse.  In addition to pain with intercourse, some women experience discomfort when sitting for long periods, inserting or removing a tampon, or walking.

Other symptoms of vulvodynia include irritation, rawness, and stinging.  Vulvodynia can affect women of any age. 

What causes vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia does not have an identifiable cause, but there are vulvovaginal specialists that have done research into the condition.   Dr. R. Stuart Fowler, of Fowler GYN International, is a leading specialist in vulvovaginal health and treats many women with vulvodynia. After years of clinical research, Dr. Fowler has recognized that women with vulvodynia tend to have an altered vaginal microflora (learn more).

The normal vaginal microflora contains a variety of good and bad bacteria, but the good bacteria usually outnumber the bad.  As a result, the vaginal secretions that bathe the vaginal mucosa perform a protective role.  However, if there is a shift in the balance of bacteria it can cause the bad bacteria to thrive.  The resulting vaginal secretions can irritate the vaginal tissues, and cause symptoms such as burning, irritation, and itching.

Are you experiencing vaginal pain that has no clear cause?  Contact the experts in vaginal care at Fowler GYN International, Paradise Valley, AZ for a consultation.

You can reach them at www.fowlergyninternational.com, or by calling (480) 420-4001.

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