Vulvodynia is a condition that causes pain in the vulvar region of a woman’s genitals. The pain can range from irritation and itchiness to sharp pain. It is a common and usually chronic condition. Some sufferers experience intermittent symptoms, while for other people it is constant and therefore can be quite debilitating.
The causes of the condition are unknown and because of this, there are few medical treatments that have been proven to work consistently. Natural treatments can therefore offer relief and a sense of control over the condition.
Physical Therapy for Vulvodynia
Physical therapy involves a number of techniques including therapeutic exercises, pelvic floor rehabilitation, trigger-point pressure or massage, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and manipulation. Depending on the person’s symptoms, this has been shown to help.
Acupuncture for Vulvodynia
A few formal studies have shown acupuncture to help symptoms of vulvodynia. Since the exact causes of the condition are unknown, and probably vary from person to person, it is difficult to determine exactly which meridians may be blocked. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine texts have long recognised gynecologic and pelvic pain disorders and new research is being done on both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for these conditions. Acupuncture helps the ‘qi’ to flow freely through the body and so is beneficial to general health and wellbeing.
Nutrition for Vulvodynia
Some of the possible causes of vulvodynia are inflammation or allergies, so adjusting your diet could ease your symptoms considerably. A nutritionist will be able to give you suggestions as to what foods could be triggers for symptoms, which should then be eliminated from your diet. A nutritionist can also offer an eating plan that could reduce inflammation and allergies.
If a woman has been experiencing chronic symptoms of the condition, she often experiences anxiety and depression. These can come about because vulvodynia is not only painful, but is difficult to diagnose. Many women have been a number of doctors to try to find out what is causing their symptoms, and sometimes the pain is so debilitating they are unable to have sexual intercourse, leading to relationship difficulties. Talking about their experiences is often very therapeutic.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has also been shown to help manage chronic pain. CBT helps people understand that their thoughts and behaviours may affect the way they experience pain, and a therapist can give the patient a number of coping strategies such as relaxation.
It’s also important for sufferers to make a few simple changes to their lifestyle. These include only wearing cotton underwear, as cotton allows the skin the ‘breathe’ unlike synthetic fibres, and not wearing g-strings. Avoid using soap on the vulva and switch to hypoallergenic versions of laundry detergent and toilet paper as these products do not use perfumes or colourings known to be irritants.
Consider also rinsing with water after urinating to gently cleanse the area and do not use feminine hygiene products, talcum powder or douches.