Pain in the top of the vagina can be caused by several conditions. If it is new, it suggests an infection and should be checked out by a doctor. Other symptoms include unusual vaginal discharge and abnormal bleeding.

Vaginal pain can be caused by the actual vagina or the labia and skin that make up the vulva. The article below will explore vulvar pain and what causes it.

Causes

The pain in the vulva can have many causes. It may result from infection or injury. It can also be caused by health conditions, menopause or childbirth. Health conditions can include rheumatoid arthritis, an infected Bartholin’s cyst or pelvic floor disorders. Injuries can range from a minor injury while shaving to serious injuries resulting from sexual abuse or surgery.

Wearing tight clothes can also cause pain in the vulva. This is because they can decrease airflow to the genital area and cause it to become hot, red and swollen. This type of pain is called vulvodynia.

If the vulva pain is persistent, it is important to see a doctor. They will ask you about your medical and sexual history and perform a pelvic exam. They will touch the vulva lightly and might take a sample of cells to check for infections. The most common symptom of vulvodynia is a burning pain, but it can also be itching or an odor.

If the vulva pain is related to an STI, a round of antibiotics will likely be prescribed. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed to prevent an STI from becoming resistant to treatment. The use of lubricants can help ease vaginal pain. The lubricant should be applied about 10 minutes before sexual intercourse. It is important to choose a non-fluffy lubricant without added fragrances.

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Treatment

Women with vulvar pain can find a variety of treatments available. Depending on the cause of your pain, your doctor may recommend topical or oral medication, or surgery.

If your pain is caused by infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medications. If your pain is caused by hormonal changes, they will recommend methods to help with lubrication and reduce the symptoms of soreness and irritation.

Your doctor will also likely ask you to keep a diary of your symptoms. This will help your doctor determine the root cause of your pain faster. If you have other symptoms, such as itchiness or abnormal vaginal discharge, be sure to note them.

Infections of the vulva and vagina can be very painful and uncomfortable. They can be caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, pregnancy, childbirth, or medical procedures. They can also be caused by physical trauma or injury to the pelvic floor, such as from an accident, or from a medical condition such as Bartholin’s cyst or endometriosis.

A common treatment for vulvodynia is an anesthetic gel, such as lidocaine, that you can apply to your vulva and vagina before having sex. If you are using condoms, make sure that they are latex-free as lidocaine can damage them. Other treatments include psychosexual counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Both are helpful for dealing with the impact that vulvodynia can have on your relationship with your partner.

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Prevention

Vulvar pain can affect women’s quality of life and sexual intimacy. A combination of prevention measures can help relieve symptoms and keep vulvar skin healthy.

Avoid anything that can change the natural balance of bacteria or cause irritation. This includes perfumed bath products, scented feminine hygiene products, laundry detergents and fabric softeners, and douching (which doesn’t help vaginal health). Women should also wear looser-fitting underwear like cotton or cotton-crotch underpants and wash tampons, pads and menstrual cups according to their instructions.

If you’re experiencing unexplained vulvar pain, talk to your doctor. It’s important to find the cause and get treatment so the pain can stop.

Some women report that healthcare providers don’t take their vulvar pain seriously or tell them it’s “all in their head.” It’s important to seek a second opinion from a gynecologist who specializes in vulva disorders.

Schedule regular pelvic exams, including a physical exam and the use of a speculum, so any problems can be addressed early. In addition, women should get annual Pap tests and cholesterol screening. Having these routine exams can help prevent certain conditions that can cause chronic pelvic and vulvar pain, such as cervical cancer and a septate hymen. During the pelvic exam, your provider may use a cotton-tipped swab to map your vulvar area and identify areas of tenderness.

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Other Symptoms

When pain and tenderness in the vulva aren’t caused by your period, it can be distressing to deal with. Your GP can examine the vulva and vagina to find the cause of the pain. It’s helpful to describe the pain and how it changes over time, so your doctor can correctly diagnose the condition.

Sometimes pelvic and vulvar pain is caused by infections. For example, yeast (Candida) infections can cause swelling of the vulva and itching. Yeast can also trigger herpes infections, which cause raw, painful sores around the vulva and are exacerbated by contact with urine. Other sexually transmitted infections that can lead to vulva and vaginal pain include gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis.

The Bartholin’s glands sit on either side of the entrance to your vagina and help lubricate it. A blockage of these glands can lead to a cyst that feels like a hard lump and looks like a pimple. A Bartholin’s cyst can get enlarged over several days before disappearing or rupturing. Other vulva and vaginal inflammations that can cause pain include bacterial vaginosis, lichen sclerosis, inflammatory skin conditions and genital adenomyosis.

In rare cases, a pain in the vulva can be a sign of cancer or other serious disease, but it’s important to visit your GP or specialist for an examination. The doctor may use a cotton swab to touch different parts of the vulva to see where you feel pain and tenderness.