May 17, 2022

Chronic Burning Pain Down There? What You Should Know About Vulvodynia

Chronic pain or burning down there? The causes and treatments for vulvodynia and vestibulodynia explained.

woman with pelvic model

What is Vulvodynia?

If you or a friend have experienced pain in the external vaginal area lasting three or more months with no known cause, you may find relief in understanding Vulvodynia. Vulvodynia refers to chronic pain and discomfort of the vulva, which is the external part of the female genitalia including the labia, the clitoris, the vaginal opening, and the urethral opening. Pain associated with Vulvodynia can be generalized over the entire vulvar region or localized to a specific area. As a note if painful sensations are limited to the entrance of your vagina, that condition is called vestibulodynia. 

Pain linked to Vulvodynia can be constant, or it can occur intermittently. This pain can be especially noticeable when the affected area is touched. Many report increased discomfort during or after intercourse, when wiping after urination, or with certain activities such as biking and prolonged sitting. The pain is often described anywhere along a continuum from very mild to severe, and it is typically described as a stinging, burning, itching, swelling, or a raw sensation.

What Causes Vulvodynia?

While the cause of vulvodynia is unknown, researchers believe it may be the result of a combination of factors. Some of these factors include: 

  • Irritation and injury to the nerves of the vulva
  • Hormonal changes
  • Genetic inclination, allergies, or skin sensitivities
  • Muscle spasm or dysfunctions of the pelvic floor
  • Long term reaction to infections or increased inflammation

How Pelvic Physical Therapy Can Help Relieve Vulvodynia Pain

Treatment for vulvodynia typically includes a multi-disciplinary approach. The good news is that physical therapy often can play a major role in relieving pain. Your therapist will perform a thorough evaluation and create a plan of care that is tailored to your individual needs. Your pelvic floor physical therapist may consider the following treatment modalities:

Manual Therapy

Also know as manipulative therapy, this treatment modality is aimed at addressing the mobility of your muscles, joints, and connective tissues.

Pelvic Floor Muscle Coordination

You may also work on proper coordination of your pelvic floor to ensure that you are able to contract and relax your muscles at the appropriate times. 

Hygiene Best Practices

A physical therapist may also guide you on good genital hygiene practices to keep you happy and healthy down stairs.

Modified Motion

You may discuss ways to modify activities to promote reduced pain and improve pelvic floor functionality.

Behavioral Strategies

A physical therapist can also help advise on behavioral strategies to help make pain management easier for everyday activities (including sex).

Desensitization

Strategies can be employed to decrease tissue sensitivity and help relax your pelvic floor muscles. 

Stretch and Relax

A physical therapist will likely prescribe exercises which may include stretching and relaxation activities, nerve gliding, or strengthening exercises based on what is appropriate for your presentation.

While the diagnosis of vulvodynia may seem overwhelming or scary, working with a physical therapist can help reduce your fears, understand your symptoms, and improve your quality of life.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

If you have pain in your parts, Download this free guide to find out if pelvic floor tightness might be to blame—and what to do about it.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Ashley Holstein PT, DPT is a native of New Orleans and attended Mount Carmel Academy. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Kinesiology from Louisiana State University and went on to receive her Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2013 from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. Originally starting her physical therapy career in orthopedics, she developed a passion for pelvic health physical therapy when pregnant with her daughter and transitioned to this specialty full-time. Ashley is certified in dry needling and is also an adjunct professor with Delgado’s Physical Therapist Assistant program. Ashley enjoys reading, attending festivals, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

 

You might also like…

Your Guide to Working Out With an Overactive Pelvic Floor

Your Guide to Working Out With an Overactive Pelvic Floor

If you suspect or have been told that you have an “overactive” pelvic floor, this means that the pelvic floor muscles tend to contract more than is necessary, resulting in excessive pelvic floor muscle tension, similar to ‘tight shoulders’. Causes of an overactive...

read more

Join the V-Hive waitlist!

Enter your name and email below and you'll be the first to know when our new membership launches.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

How to Take Great Care of Your Pelvic Floor

6+ Simple Tips to Prevent or Overcome Pelvic Floor Problems

Pregnant? Postpartum? Struggling with peeing or pooping probs? Experiencing painful sex? Download this free guide for some simple, do-able, totally-not-weird tips to take better care of your down there.

Thank you! Check your inbox.

How to Take Great Care of Your Pelvic Floor

Enter your name and email below and we'll send it right over.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5 Myths We’ve Been Told About Pregnant Bodies

Enter your name and email below and we'll send it right over.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

4 Signs of Pelvic Floor Muscle Tension

Enter your name and email below and we'll send it right over.

You have Successfully Subscribed!