Alleviating vulvodynia pain- but what even is vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is described as persistent and, most frustratingly, unexplained pain in the vulva. Over 70% of people will experience some kind of pain in and around their pelvis at some point in their lives. Therefore, exploring some of these lesser-understood manifestations of the pelvic area is necessary. Not just to open up the conversation but to support anyone experiencing this kind of life-altering pain.
First, let’s clarify the difference between the vulva and the vagina.
The vulva is the external area,s including the urethral opening and anus. The vagina, however, is the internal tube-like space that runs from the cervix, located at the opening of the womb, to the vulva.
What is vulvodynia?
Vulval pain or vulvodynia is an issue that can persist for long periods, come and go and be highly distressing.
The pain can be indescribable for those suffering just by utilising a gentle touch to the vulva. It can feel like a stabbing, burning, stinging sensation that continues throughout the day, made worse through certain scenarios such as sitting on hard flooring or particular items of clothing sitting too close. The vulva doesn’t look visibly affected, so looking for support can feel challenging.
The discomfort can be:
- triggered by touch, such as during tampon insertion or sex
- constantly just ‘there’
- made worse when sitting down
- be limited to parts of the vulva or feel as though it radiates through all of the vulva We can often find further challenges through painful periods, IBS or vaginismus. (Vaginismus is where the muscles within the vagina tighten involuntarily by inserting something such as a speculum, tampon or finger).
Often, it can feel like there is no hope, and this pain will last a lifetime for several reasons. Firstly, the specific area causing this pain cannot be often located. Secondly, feminine health is under-researched and underfunded; therefore, options for supporting vulvodynia are limited and, most of the time, don’t offer much relief. Or if they do, it is only for a short while. Lastly, vulvodynia is diagnosed chiefly as a psychosomatic condition (though there can be some physical causes, including genetic predispositions to inflammation, yeast infections, human papillomavirus (HPV), childbirth and injury. A psychosomatic condition is about weaving in the body and the mind, often challenging in the Western medical system. If it can’t be proven somehow, then the question is, does it even exist?
More and more people struggle with scenarios where their pain isn’t taken seriously or understood, leaving them lost, gaslit, frustrated and likely in even more pain. Vulvodynia is an idiopathic condition, which means it’s a condition with no known cause.
How can we support vulvodynia?
Seeking support is incredibly important; going to a GP and asking to be referred to a specialist vulval clinic and/or sexual health clinic is a great start. If you’re reading this and have been suffering in silence, seeking professional support is necessary to begin your healing journey. Often, a GP may prescribe low-dose antidepressants immediately for those needing more help.
Avoid douching (washing the vulva)
Utilise vaginal lubricants
Start having oatmeal sitz baths
General lifestyle adjustments to support vulvodynia
Wear cotton underwear and have loose-fitting items around the vulva Ensure a partner is aware of the pain and introduce touch gently through a deeper holding. This looks like creating a space that feels nourishing to you
Work with your nervous system to bring more safety to the body overall Explore fascia release touch through and a deeper connection to the pelvis Begin to weave in support with the body and the mind to excavate when the pain began and if there were any emotional or physical triggers for this with a professional
How YUYU supports vulvodynia
Many people find that applying hot or cold to the vulva relieves the pain. Some find that heat works better at other times than cold. This is something that needs exploring in time. A YUYU bottle is excellent for supporting this exploration for several reasons. Firstly, you can have a hot water bottle and a cooling bottle to work with interchangeably. Both will be ready very quickly to offer much-needed relief. Plus, the shape means it can be placed between the thighs and tied when lying down to keep the heat or cold on the vulva.
For further support and reading:
This article was written by Naomi Gale, the author of ‘In Your Vagina Lies The Key To Your Happiness’, a refreshingly entertaining, profound, inclusive how-to-guide on returning to a relationship with your pelvis (vagina, vulva and womb). Naomi works with clients to support them with physical and emotional manifestations of the pelvis through fascia release touch and deep space holding. She lives in Margate, UK, with her husband and three children.
Follow Naomi's work on her website here: http://www.thisisnaomigale.co.uk/
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