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Vulvodynia is described as chronic pain in the vulva without an identifiable cause. Vulvodynia is a fairly common condition that affects one in four women. The main vulvodynia symptom is pain in your genital area, which can be characterized by:

  • Burning

  • Soreness

  • Stinging

  • Rawness

  • Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)

  • Throbbing

  • Itching

Many women with vulvodynia have a history of treatment for recurrent vaginitis or vaginal yeast infections. Some women with the condition have a history of sexual abuse. But most women with vulvodynia have no known contributing factors. Vulvodynia isn't sexually transmitted or a sign of cancer. Because it can be painful and frustrating and can inhibit sexual activity, vulvodynia can cause emotional problems. Some women experience this pain for a course of several years; some describe their pain as occurring in cycles.

Behavioral Modifications

  • Try cold compresses. Cool compresses placed directly on your external genital area may help lessen pain and itching.

  • Soak in a sitz bath. Two to three times a day, sit in comfortable, lukewarm (not hot) or cool water for five to 10 minutes.

  • Avoid tight fitting pantyhose and nylon underwear. Tight undergarments restrict airflow to your genital area, often leading to increased temperature and moisture that can cause irritation. Wear white, cotton underwear to increase ventilation and dryness, and sleep without underwear at night.

  • Avoid hot tubs and soaking in hot baths. Spending time in hot water may lead to discomfort and itching.

  • Avoid activities that put pressure on your vulva, such as biking or horseback riding.

  • Wash gently. Washing or scrubbing the affected area harshly or too often can increase irritation. Instead, use plain water to gently clean your vulva with your hand and pat the area dry. After bathing, apply a preservative-free emollient, such as plain petroleum jelly, to create a protective barrier.

  • Use lubricants. If you're sexually active, apply lubricants before engaging in sexual intercourse.

  • Try an antihistamine at bedtime. This may help reduce itching and help you rest better.

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