Those who experience it often don’t know that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be a very helpful treatment!
Vulvodynia is defined as chronic pain of the external female genitalia, specifically the Vulva. The amount of pain or discomfort varies from woman to woman. Some women not only experience painful intercourse but also have itchiness, discomfort and pain throughout the day.
Here are some of the questions that I have been asked:
Q. Why haven’t I heard of this condition?
A. It isn’t rare, according to the National Vulvodynia Association, as many as 16 percent of women in the U.S. suffer from Vulvodynia at some point in their lives. But genital matters can be embarrassing to discuss so, unless you or a loved one have Vulvodynia, you probably aren’t going to know much about it.
A. Common symptoms include: painful burning, itching or throbbing at the entrance to the vagina. The entire Vulva can be irritated or just a specific spot. Intercourse is often painful; daily activities maybe interrupted; and there is a negative toll on emotional and physical well-being.
Symptoms may be constant, come and go, or happen only when pressure is applied to the vulva. Generally, there are no visible symptoms which makes the diagnosis even more difficult.
Q. How do women get Vulvodynia?
A. The cause remains a mystery but possibilities include: nerve irritation; muscle spasms; hormonal changes; pelvic floor dysfunction; genetic factors; a hypersensitivity to yeast; sexual abuse; allergies; or irritation caused by certain products.
Some women can pinpoint the beginning, maybe an infection, but there is no known cause for most women. Remember; it is a real problem; you are not crazy or frigid.
Q. Is it a sexually transmitted disease?
A. NO, but before settling on a diagnosis of Vulvodynia it is important to rule out infection or other possible causes.
Q. What are the treatments options?
A. Currently, common treatments include:
- Topical medications like lidocaine and estrogen cream.
- Physical therapy,
- Surgery (very controversial)
- Botox injections in the vagina
- More women are turning to Chinese medicine because it can be very successful. I have seen great results in my Chicago practice using acupuncture and herbs (both topical and in pill form).
Q. If I wanted to try acupuncture, would you needle my vagina?
A. NO. I am able to provide women relief with points on other parts of the body.
Most women suffering with Vulvodynia use a combination of remedies to provide relief. In my practice I use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs personalized for each patient’s needs.
Here are several suggestions you can try on your own. Some work for one woman and not another, but they are all safe and easy:
- Eliminate environmental irritants like deodorant products, scented soaps, bubble baths, chlorinated water and synthetic fabrics (stick with cotton underwear).
- Eliminate spicy foods, caffeine and sugar.
- Stay away from tampons, you could try the Diva cup instead.
- Soak in a lukewarm or cool bath, you might try some epsom salt in it.
- Wear loose fitting clothing.
- Stay out of hot tubs.
- When having sex use a lubricant that is free of all potientally irritating chemicals. One to try is Sliquid Organics Natural Lubricating Gel.
Successful treatment is difficult to come by but luckily Chinese Medicine is an effective option. In my Chicago acupuncture office, I have treated this problem with great success, and I find that needling points on the limbs and near the nose work quite well.
Normally, it takes several sessions to get lasting results, i.e., no pain during intercourse or at any other time.
With regular acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and self-care, many women find that their painful symptoms are greatly reduced or eliminated and they are able resume an active sex life.