What Every Woman Should Know About Vulvodynia

It’s no secret that everyone experiences the occasional discomfort, pain, or itching in our genital areas during our lives. While it’s something to be expected, the symptoms should pass fairly quickly, especially if you take proper care of the area. Unfortunately, though, that isn’t always the case. Many women experiencing long-term discomfort in their vulvar region have a condition known as “vulvodynia.”

Although the term “vagina” is often colloquially, and incorrectly, used to describe the entire female genital area, the vagina is actually just the internal organ. The vulva is the collection of external organs surrounding the vagina (the areas you can see), that consists of the clitoris and the labia majora and minora. If you’ve been experiencing pain in your vulvar region for more than three months, you may have a condition known as vulvodynia. Here at the Center for Gynecology & Restorative Medicine in Coral Gables, Florida, Dr. Michelle Starke treats vulvodynia, helping you lose the symptoms and feel more comfortable again.


Vulvodynia is a condition in which you experience pain in your vulvar region chronically or intermittently for three or more months. Although researchers haven’t pinned down one specific cause, it’s likely caused by several factors working together, such as damaged nerves, inflammation, genetic disorders, food allergies and sensitivities, or other underlying medical issues. The symptoms commonly associated with vulvodynia can also be symptoms of other medical conditions, which is why it’s so important to get a full evaluation and an accurate diagnosis.

Every case is different, so the symptoms you experience may not the be same as others. Common symptoms of vulvodynia may be tingling, burning, itching, rawness, swelling of the vulvar region, and pain during sexual intercourse. They may also be felt only in one specific area, or they may be generalized throughout the entire region. If left untreated, these symptoms can get worse and lead to a number of problems, including:

Diagnosing vulvodynia

During your appointment, Dr. Starke will first try to rule out some of the most common causes of vulvar pain. These can range from urinary tract infections to pain due to rough sexual intercourse. She’ll start by asking you about your sexual and medical history, when your symptoms occur, as well as do a general exam in the vulvar and vaginal regions. If necessary, she may need to take a biopsy of the skin in the area.

Treating vulvodynia

After your vulvodynia diagnosis, we’re going to develop a treatment plan that may include self-care, medication, therapy, or a combination. There are several things you can do aside from the treatment options we provide you to help minimize the pain.

Often, vulvodynia pain and discomfort can be minimized with simple self-care and creams or pills, especially those containing estrogen or cortisone. Some treatment options may provide temporary relief fairly quickly, but true, permanent relief may take up to a few months to be noticed. If  these steps, along with the other basic treatments we prescribe, don’t work, we may recommend additional interventions such as laser rejuvenation or physical therapy.

Vulvodynia is more common than many patients think. If you have been suffering from pain, discomfort, or itching in your vulvar region, you don’t need to feel embarrassed or suffer any more. Call us today at 305-306-7101 or contact us online to schedule your appointment with Dr. Starke at our Coral Gables, Florida location.

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