Vulvodynia, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine

Vulvodynia (vul-vo-DIN-ee-uh) is a chronic pain condition of the external female genitalia. Many people do not know about this condition unless they, or a loved one, have experienced it themselves. Even when women know about this condition, they don’t like to talk about it – problems in the genitals are still pretty hush hush.

Women describe symptoms as an extremely painful burning, itching or throbbing sensation at the entrance to the vagina, labia or other areas of the vulva. Vulvodynia causes intercourse to be painful, can impede daily activities, and often has a negative impact on a woman emotionally and physically. These 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.

Doctors don’t know the cause of vulvodynia but possibilities include: nerve irritation; muscle spasms; hormonal changes; genetic factors; a hypersensitivity to yeast; sexual abuse; allergies; or irritation caused by certain products. It is a real problem and it is not a sexually transmitted disease.

Currently, common treatments include topical medications like lidocaine and estrogen cream, anti-depressants, physical therapy, biofeedback, surgery (still controversial) and even botox. Most women suffering with vulvodynia use a combination of remedies to provide relief.

Self-care suggestions if you have vulvodynia

The following tips are easy, can’t hurt, and may provide relief:
– Eliminate any possible environmental irritants like deodorant products, scented soaps, bubble baths, chlorinated water and synthetic fabrics (stick with cotton underwear).
– Try using a water-soluble lubricant during sex. After sex, rinse with cool water and dry the area gently.
– Some women find that eliminating spicy foods, caffeine and sugar helps.
– Soak in a lukewarm or cool bath.
– Wear loose fitting clothing.
– Stay out of hot tubs.

I’ve mentioned the different possible causes and some treatments above but there is not one sure thing. Effective treatment is difficult to come by. Many women do not know that Chinese Medicine is a highly effective option which is why I am writing this post!  In my Chicago acupuncture office, I have treated this problem often and with great success and, before you even ask, “No needles in the genital region.” Relax.

I find that points like LI20 (near the nose) FuKe (2 points on the thumb) as well as SP6 (a common gynecological point) provide pain relief. With regular acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, many women find that their painful symptoms are greatly reduced or eliminated and they are able resume an active sex life.


Comments 14

  1. Thanks for sharing this blog. My mother suggested that I look into acupuncture. She has many friends who have found success in accuputnre for an array of issues. I'll have to find someone in my local area to help out.

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  2. Hi Jennifer, I love that you are posting about this! It&#39;s actually really common and you are right, people are still hush hush about it. Awesome Blog! I&#39;m a fellow acupuncturist in California:)<br /><br />Carissa Kelly LAc.

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  3. Thank you for this blog. I have a new patient who has had Vulvodynia for the past two months and just got her diagnosis last week. Today was her second treatment. I really appreciate the acupuncture points you recommend. Fu Ke, of course! If you have any other input, I am all ears (eyes). Thanks again.

    Take care,

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      Thank you, I’m glad you liked the article, sorry for the late reply. A few other suggestions: Pc7, Ling Gu, Liver 3. Also yin care as a wet dressing and gentiana drain fire from Golden Flower can be helpful.

  4. I have recently treated patient with vulvodynia of 6 months duration. I used Urinary bladder points at Sacral foraminae 1, 2, 3 and Jiaji points at level L4/5 and L5/S1 bilaterally. After 2 sessions a week apart she had more than 90 percent improvement.
    Dr T Joosub. MD. DTCM(S.A.)

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  5. hello, i was wondering what kind of TCM (or western) herbs you would recommend for this condition. thanks.

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      Herbs do need to be specific to the person, but I often recommend yin care topically as well as a couple internal formulas.

  6. Hello and thank you for your information, I had not heard of vulvodynia until a 13 year old girl had been diagnosed with it. It came on a few months after her menses started.
    I am based in Melbourne Australia and was wondering what herbal remedy you would recommend for her?

    many thanks

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  7. Pingback: Painful Intercourse May Be Due To Vulvodynia

  8. Pingback: Yoga For Vulvodynia Pain Relief | Jennifer Dubowsky, DIPL.Ac.

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