Vulvodynia, a painful disorder that causes great distress for many women, is associated with a number of conditions.
“Many studies have shown that vulvodynia is often associated with other chronic pain conditions such as migraine, TMJ [disorder], fibromyalgia and variable conditions related to body-wide up-regulation of the central and peripheral nervous systems,” says Robert J. Echenberg, MD, founder of The Echenberg Institute for Pelvic & Sexual Pain, and co-author of “Secret Suffering: How Women’s Sexual and Pelvic Pain Affects Their Relationships.”
Dr. Echenberg continues, “Chronic pain in general affects tens of millions of individuals in the U.S. alone.
“The ‘volume dial is up’ in the nervous system secondary to both genetic and cumulative traumas that occur in millions of us, and the genital region is one of the most sensitive areas of our bodies.”
It’s loaded with nerve endings that add to this hypersensitivity.
“Consequently, some medications such as low dose tricyclic antidepressants, various anti-seizure meds, along with muscle relaxants, trigger point injection, localized nerve blocks, topical ointments, appropriate use of the VuvaTech vaginal dilators and pelvic physical therapy are commonly used in my practice for these disorders,” explains Dr. Echenberg.
“We also highly recommend any types of mind-body relaxation techniques such as gentle yoga, reiki, mindfulness training and any number of abdominal breathing techniques.”
More on Vulvodynia
First off, vulvodynia is NOT a condition that’s “all in a woman’s head.”
The vulva, like any other part of the body, is not immune to a pain syndrome.
The vulva is the outer tissue that surrounds the vagina and urethra. The discomfort ranges from stinging and burning to aching.
It may come on for no apparent reason or be triggered by intercourse or even panties.
The cause – or causes – of vulvodynia is not known. One theory is that a nerve that runs from the lower spine to the vulva was injured in the past, such as during childbirth or from a tailbone injury.
Another possibility is that changes in estrogen levels could make the area more sensitive to physical contact.
Dr. Echenberg combines the most current neuroscience on chronic pain processing, a very personalized bio-psychosocial model approach and 40+ years of medical experience to treat his patients.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.