#femtech friday: Vulvodynia
Aggiornamento: 5 feb
Welcome to Femtech Friday! Today we are going to cover the topic of vulvodynia. Vulvodynia is defined as chronic pain or discomfort around the external female genitalia (vulva) - which comprise the opening of the vagina, the clitoris and the labia - for which there's no identifiable cause. Although women often don't mention vulvodynia to their doctors, the condition is fairly common, affecting around 4-16% of women, and can last for months to years.
The main symptom of vulvodynia is pain in the external genital area, which can be perceived as burning, stinging, throbbing and itching. Vulvodynia can be generalised, with pain in different areas of the vulva at different times, or localised, with pain in one specific area. Often vulvar pain can result from touch or pressure, and vulvar tissue might look inflamed or swollen, although often it appears normal. Some women may also develop additional chronic health problems such as vaginismus, causing tightness in the muscles of the vagina, interstitial cystitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The causes of vulvodynia are unknown, but it may be caused by a problem with the nerves supplying the vulva. Contributing factors also include injury to or irritation of the vulvar region, previous vaginal infections, allergies or sensitive skin, hormonal changes, muscle spasm or weakness in the pelvic floor, bladder and bowel.
Some lifestyle changes may help reduce symptoms, and pelvic floor exercises may help relax the muscles around your vagina. Surgery to remove part of the vulva is done in very rare cases, but the pain can come back and it's usually not recommended. No single treatment is appropriate for all women affected by vulvodynia, and it often takes time to find the right treatment. Despite its high prevalence, many doctors still believe that vulvodynia is mainly a psychosomatic condition associated with mental health because of its unknown cause.
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