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Top 5 Signs Your Chronic Pelvic Pain May Be Vulvodynia

Pelvic pain is often very difficult to manage. In many cases, it’s a mysterious condition with seemingly unknown causes and results in a lot of discomfort that disrupts your life. In some cases, pelvic pain may indicate a condition called vulvodynia.

The vulva is the outside of the female genital area. Vulvodynia is the name for a syndrome that includes pain and other uncomfortable symptoms in the external genital area. Here are some signs that your chronic pelvic pain may actually be vulvodynia instead.

1. Some activities make the pain worse

Women with pelvic pain may experience this pain on an ongoing basis, or it may be of a sporadic nature and may come and go. In some cases, the irritation occurs in response to touch.

Some women notice that certain activities make their pain more intense, such as sitting for extended periods or having sexual intercourse.

2. You experience frequent itching or burning but no discharge

You probably know the symptoms of a yeast infection. Your whole vaginal area, including the vulva, feels like it’s on fire.

But along with the itching and burning sensations, yeast infections also include a distinctive thick, white discharge. If you have the itching and burning but don’t also have the discharge, it could be a sign that you’re really dealing with vulvodynia instead.

3. Sex is painful

Many women experience some degree of pain or discomfort with sex, which may be due to several different factors. Other possible causes of pain during sex include yeast or bacterial infections, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, or genitourinary syndrome of menopause.

WIth vulvodynia, sex may be painful for you, especially if your vulvar pain occurs near your vaginal opening or clitoris. If you consistently experience pain during sex, it could lead to involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor muscles when penetration is attempted, which can make the pain worse.

4. Perfumes and detergents make the itching worse

With vulvodynia, exposure to perfumes and detergents can further irritate your vulvar area. Scented tampons or pads and underwear washed with scented detergent can make your symptoms worse.

To avoid these causes of irritation, switch to 100% cotton or unscented tampons and pads. Wear cotton underwear and always wash with a scent-free, dye-free detergent. Avoid douching, which alters the bacterial balance in the vagina and vulva. Don’t wear underwear while you sleep, which allows your vulva to have time without snug fabric touching it.

5. Stress increases your symptoms

The pain of vulvodynia is definitely not all in your head. But there’s a mind-body interaction in many aspects of our health and vulvodynia is no exception. Like many other health issues, stress makes your symptoms worse.

You may want to try stress-reducing techniques such as yoga or meditation, or cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist.

Treating vulvodynia

When you come in for an appointment, you can talk to Dr. Kohli about your vulvar pain in a private consultation. He’ll likely ask additional questions to get to the root of your problem and can recommend the best course of action for treatment.

Dr. Kohli may suggest one or more treatments that may provide relief, including the following:


Don’t ignore vulvar pain when it’s affecting your quality of life. Make an appointment by calling one of our Boston Urogyn offices, or you can book your consultation online.

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