Taking Charge of Vulvodynia

The pain of vulvodynia is severe, and at times, so bad, it may be hard to sit down. Here are some tips we've compiled that may help you relieve some of your symptoms.

Regular Exercise Helps Chronic Pain

Staying active is good and it's been proven that a consistent exercise routine helps to relieve chronic pain, but avoid activities like bicycling, that put pressure on the painful areas of your pelvis.

Take stock of products that trigger irritation and learn to avoid them. For one woman, it may be a particular soap, for another woman, it's her spermicidal cream, in yet another, it may be bubble bath or the dye in clothing. Never use colored or scented toilet paper, and stick to 100% cotton sanitary pads and tampons.

Hot tubs are known to cause itching and pain in vulvodynia sufferers. Avoid them at all costs.

Contrary to what Mom said, you can be too clean. Washing too often can lead to a PH imbalance and scrubbing can cause irritation. Wash with plain water and pat, don't rub, the area dry. You can apply Vaseline after washing to protect the area and keep it moist.

Liberal use of lubricants can be a major protective measure against any irritation that may occur as a result of sexual intercourse.

Wear loose-fitting undergarments made of white cotton. Avoid pantyhose whenever possible, since these keep air from ventilating your genital area. This in turn, can create the buildup of heat and moisture that can lead to discomfort. Sleep without panties whenever possible to allow for some airflow while you catch some zzz's.

Taking an antihistamine just before bed may get you a good night's sleep, since this type of medication can help to relieve the itching of vulvodynia.

Cold compresses can grant you some immediate relief for the itching and pain associated with vulvodynia.

Keep a journal

A journal may just help you learn your specific triggers so you can put them on your list of don'ts. For Cathy Jorgenson* of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, it was her contraceptive device: a diaphragm. "I couldn't figure out what was causing my irritation to flare up so suddenly, so I kept a diary and found that my irritation always occurred within two days after I'd had sex. I tried switching to a different spermicidal cream, but that didn't help. After a lot of trial and error, I realized it was the diaphragm. I had to find a different contraceptive method, but in the long run, I saved myself a lot of pain by keeping that journal."

*Not her real name


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