😰 : When he tried to put it in I screamed 😰 : The entrance to my vagina felt like it was burning 😰 : I was so scared of penetration I cramped up 🥺 : When I got a pap smear at the hospital it felt like I was being stabbed This pain is neither an exaggeration nor an unusual case. One in four women experience terrible vulva pain more than once in their lives. Let's find out about ‘provoked vestibulodynia’, that accounts for the majority of sexual pain complaints.
There’s a Reason it Hurts
The word ‘Vestibular’ here refers to the part of the vulva inside the inner labia, around the entrance to the vaginal canal. ‘Dynia’ is used in medical terms to refer to pain, therefore pain in this region is called vestibulodynia. Most women who experience this condition simply try to put up with it. Sometimes, the pain can resolve by itself. However, if it persists for more than three months, a medical diagnosis and treatment is required.
Doctors generally diagnose vulva pain using a swab test. This is something that you can quite easily replicate at home.
❶ Prepare a mirror and a sterilized cotton swab
❷ Wash your vulva
❸ Look in the mirror and spread your labia, and brush the cotton swab over the vestibular region (around the opening to the vagina)
❹ Start from the outside and work your way inwards to find any places that are sensitive.
❺ If there is a place that feels throbbing or painful, or makes your body tense like a cramp, you might suspect induced vestibular pain.
* Be careful not to force or irritate the same place several times during the test!
The Cause of the Pain
The exact cause of provoked vestibulodynia is not yet known. However, experts speculate that the cause is complex. Many studies have found associations mainly with the following factors.
☑️ Chronic vaginitis 36.2% of patients experiencing vestibular pain also suffer from vaginitis.
☑️ Sensitive vestibular pain nerves It may be a functional disorder of the nerve cells.
☑️ Psychological factors Sexual stress, victimization, depression, anxiety disorders etc.
☑️ Hormone imbalance
☑️ Weakening pelvic floor muscles
☑️ Wound or damage caused by childbirth, surgery, treatment or violence
☑️ Allergic reactions because of products such as cleansers
☑️ Genetic factors, etc.
You Can Get Better!
About 40% of women who experience provoked vestibulodynia report the symptoms disappearing naturally. However, if the pain greatly reduces the quality of your daily life and causes considerable stress, don't endure it and go to a specialized hospital for an examination. In most cases, sufferers recover quickly with treatment.
- Which hospital should I go to?
30 years have passed since provoked vestibulodynia was first introduced to the academic world, but the reality is that many doctors are still unfamiliar with the condition. If you are seeking treatment for this condition, it might be recommended to visit a specialized hospital. The combination of two or more treatments is known to be most effective, so aside from an OB/GYN or sexual medicine clinic it is also recommended to visit a counselling center or psychologist.
- What treatment options are there?
✅ Pharmacological Treatment Epilepsy/convulsions/neural pain medication, antidepressants, hormones/anesthetic creams, etc
✅ Psychological/sexual counselling Consultation on relationships, sexuality, sleep disorders, and self-esteem
✅ Physical therapy for pelvic floor muscles Physical therapy to help relax the pelvic floor muscles
✅ Surgery Surgical removal of a part of the vestibular
Daily Life Tips
Changing your lifestyle can help with reducing experienced symptoms. We’ve prepared some tips for protecting your vulva health.
- When washing the vulva
- Clean with gentle (unperfumed) soap or a cleanser. Preferably wash with just water.
- Don’t use bubble baths, or clean inside the vagina.
- Don’t dry your vulva with a hairdryer, let it airdry naturally.
- In contact with the vulva
- Use unscented, organic tampons and menstrual pads.
- Wear clothing and underwear made of well-ventilated cotton.
- Avoid exercise that stimulates the vulva, such as riding a bicycle.
- Daily habits
- Drink plenty of water (8 to 10 cups a day).
- Reduce alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sugar.
- Get acquainted with the appearance and functions of your body
- Sleep well and reduce stress.
- If you feel pain during penetration of the vagina, active treatment may be needed.
- Read about the symptoms of provoked vestibulodynia and reflect on your symptoms.
- Most patients recover quickly through treatment.