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Pain In The Vagina - Causes, Symptoms And Clinical Management

Vulvodynia, in simple words, pain in the vagina is a condition in which women experience constant or chronic pain either in their vagina or in their vulva or in certain cases, both. Many women do not speak about this because of stigma or embarrassment. However, it could be the result of infections, dryness, trauma, psychological factors, or even cervical cancer. While the exact cause for vulvodynia is still under contention, yet, doctors like to perform a physical examination of the vulva and the vagina to root out any other cause behind the vaginal pain. Therefore, it is essential to take notice of any persistent or sporadic pain in the vagina, vulva, or cervix and bring it to the attention of a gynecologist to understand the causes and the ways to treat it. Once diagnosed, it can be treated through medication.

Vaginal pain can be a result of several things. Here is a quick summary of what the triggers behind vaginal pain can be.

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Women of all age groups are likely to have infections and these could be contributing to vaginal pain. Of these, yeast infections are the most common and have symptoms like itching and redness accompanied by an unusual cottage cheese-like or smelling vaginal discharge. This is one of the primary reasons why women experience vaginal pain and this can be treated through medications

Please note that both yeast infection and bacterial infections are generally not transmitted sexually. Other types of infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted infections and can lead to vaginal pain. For an accurate diagnosis, it is essential to visit a gynecologist and be examined thoroughly so that the right treatment approach can be followed.

Physical Injuries

During normal delivery, especially for the first time, women might experience tears in the vaginal cavity, in the perineum or the area between the vagina and the anus, and also sometimes in the labial area. These tears are usually stitched up, but sometimes they could cause some vaginal distress or pain.

Apart from this, pregnancy could cause damage to the muscles of the pelvic floor and this pain could radiate to the vagina. Other factors like sexual abuse, surgery, and other types of injuries to the vaginal opening and canal could also trigger pain in the vagina.  

Other Causes

Apart from the major and most common causes of vaginal pain mentioned above, there could be other causes too. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain caused due to sexual intercourse or painful sex known as dyspareunia
  • Dryness in the vagina due to hormonal imbalance or approaching menopause
  • Cyst in Bartholin’s gland or the gland that keeps the vulva lubricated
  • Cervical cancer
  • Vulvar vestibulitis
  • Breast cancer treatments

Managing Vaginal Pain

Few  home remedies  to manage vaginal pain

  1. Rinse your genital area with cool water after urination and sexual activity
  2. Soak in cool or warm sitz baths
  3. Use unscented soaps and detergent
  4. Wear white cotton underwear
  5. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes
  6. Use a water-soluble lubricant during sexual intercourse
  7. Avoid foods like beans, berries, nuts, and chocolate that can make the urine more irritating to the skin of the genital area.

For women with vaginal pain, be it chronic or occasional, the thought of going through a physical exam might seem scary. However, the best approach to this problem is to confide in the doctor, who can then take appropriate measures to make the process as comfortable as possible.

It is only through a physical exam and a discussion of the woman’s health and sexual history can doctors generally arrive at a proper diagnosis. It’s essential to understand the trigger of the pain to take an effective management approach.

It would also help the doctor to a great extent if the nature of pain can be described accurately. More often than not, there are a few common sensations of pain felt which include:

  • Burning
  • Rawness or sensitivity in certain parts of the muscle
  • Pain after consistent itching
  • Soreness
  • Muscle spasms

It helps if women are able to observe when exactly the pain occurs - whether it’s consistent or whether activities like intercourse, urination, menstruation, etc aggravate it. It would also help if other associated symptoms like vaginal discharge or bleeding are reported accurately.

The doctor will then check for growths, abrasions, cuts, redness, or swelling to determine the exact cause of the pain. Once diagnosed, effective treatment can certainly help manage the condition.

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