If you have been experiencing discomfort in your genital area, you may be suffering from vulvar vestibulitis; an irritation of the vulva. This is yet another of those feminine problems that can be very uncomfortable to talk about with your doctor, but you can and should make an appointment for a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will be able to suggest ways to relieve your symptoms and prevent further occurrences.
Did you know that your brand of sanitary napkin may be a possible cause?
The vulva is located in your genital area; it is the opening for giving birth and for menstrual flow and is located alongside the opening from which you pass urine. Vulvar vestibultis causes redness and pain of the vestibule which is found in the inner labia or vulvar ‘lips.’ At the same time, the surrounding skin is inflamed as are the mucous secreting glands (the lesser vestibular glands) found in the skin.
What does that really mean?
If you have vulvar vestibulitis, you likely suffer with intense pain and noticeable redness.
Who gets vulvar vestibulitis?
Any woman of any age can develop this condition. You can be young or old, have a history of engaging in intercourse or be a virgin. Women of all races and ethnicities are at risk.
Signs and symptoms of vulvar vestibulitis
*Intense and severe pain and pressure on a regular basis that you may notice while riding a bike, exercising, or even just sitting. Most clothing, especially tight clothing will feel very uncomfortable.
*Pain when inserting a tampon
*A burning or stinging sensation; rawness and irritation of the skin
*Sudden and frequent urges to urinate and pain when you do go
Diagnosing vulvar vestibulitis
Never attempt to self-diagnose; always see your doctor or healthcare provider. He or she will examine your genital area and look for signs of intense pain when you are touched during a pelvic examination. Your doctor may also take a sample of feminine discharge to better diagnose the problem.
Causes of vulvar vestibulits
There are no real known direct causes of this condition, but the following are often associated with patients.
*Human papillomavirus (HPV)
*A history of chronic and regular yeast infections
*A history of chronic and regular genital bacterial infections
*Possible changes in the acidity of the genital area or the pH balance of the acid and base levels
*Use of soaps, detergents, spermicides, sprays and lubricants that can irritate the genital area
Sanitary napkins and vulvar vestibulitis
Using plastic weave covered sanitary napkins; the plastic ingredients are great for dryness but some women can become very allergic to the materials used and become worse with prolonged use. If you are using any type of 'dry-weave' pad and experience the above symptoms, stop using them immediately. Look for alternate brands that do not have a plastic weave topping if you do not want to use tampons.
Treating vulvar vestibuiltis
Once your doctor has made a proper diagnosis, the following treatments may be suggested:
Treating the underlying cause such as dealing with HPV, bacterial or other infections, stopping the wearing of tight restrictive clothing, eliminating using any offending soaps, detergents or similar products
Switching sanitary napkin brands that do not contain a plastic weave topping
Your doctor may prescribe:
Steroid creams which should only be used under a doctor’s strict instructions because prolonged use can make the condition worse.
TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) which is rarely used but is effective in stubborn cases. TCA actually destroys small areas of the affected skin to allow new skin growth to take place.
Interfon injections which help to boost the body’s ability to fight infection.
Surgery is only used as a last resort.
Talking to your doctor about genital discomfort can be embarrassing but you should never be too timid to get the help you need. Remember to check your particular brand of sanitary napkin before your next doctor visit!
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You