Vulvodynia is one of the most severe forms of nerve or neuropathic pain. Women suffering from vulvodynia may experience sharp, burning or electric shock-like pain that can occur around the vulva, labia or entrance to the vagina. The pain can be constant, intermittent or may occur when the affected areas are touched, for instance during intercourse or tampon insertion. Hypersensitivity of the skin is also a common symptom, making wearing underwear unbearable.
If left untreated it can have a significant adverse impact on your quality of life including sleep disturbance, anxiety and sexual dysfunction. Symptoms of vulvodynia usually begin suddenly and can last anywhere from months to years.
Doctors do not know the cause of most forms of vulvodynia and there is no evidence that infections, such as sexually transmitted diseases, cause the pain.
Researchers generally agree that nerve injury or irritation is prevalent in most cases. The pudendal nerve is the main nerve that runs through this area, so more advanced treatment for nerve pain is targeted here.
Other causes are an abnormal response in vulvar cells to an infection or trauma, genetic factors causing chronic inflammation, hypersensitivity to yeast infections, allergies or too frequent antibiotic use.
Initial treatment of vulvodynia will usually consist of anti-neuropathic, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and weak opioid medication.