What causes vulvar pain?
Studies suggest that up to 15% of females experience vulvar pain. This can affect quality of life, and in some cases, it may indicate a medical condition that needs treatment. Accurate diagnosis and treatment is key to resolving the issues or identifying a much more serious condition.
Chronic yeast infections and bacterial infections can both cause pain that ranges from mild discomfort and itching to severe burning or throbbing.
Viral and bacterial infections, such as bacterial vaginosis and the herpes simplex virus, can also cause vulvar pain or discomfort.
The vulva contains sensitive tissues and nerve endings. Childbirth, sexual activity, and riding a bicycle or horse can all damage these nerve endings, possibly resulting in pain and discomfort.
Some other potential causes of vulvar pain include nerve injury, neuropathy, and Tarlov cysts. Tarlov cysts occur at the base of the spine, where they either affect or involve nerve roots. They can also cause vulvar pain.
Research suggests that women who have vulvodynia are more likely to also have another chronic pain condition. Examples of co-occurring conditions include fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Allergies to soaps or hygiene products can cause pain, discomfort, and irritation in the genital area. Inflammation may also occur. Hormonal changes occur with menopause and menstruation. These changes can cause sensitive tissues to become swollen, inflamed, or dry and uncomfortable.
Some females may also develop genitourinary syndrome after menopause. Symptoms of this condition include a dry vagina, vulvar pain, pain during sex, and bladder problems.