Vaginismus, Vulva & Vaginal irritation


The female genitals are made up of the vulva-the outside lips, the clitoris and the urethra, the vagina is the opening beyond which connects to the cervix.

There are many conditions that can affect this area and all parts of the genitals can be involved.

Common conditions include Vaginismus, Vulva & Vaginal irritation, Vulval/Vaginal dryness, Vulvodynia, Lichen Sclerosis, Infection, STIs, Vaginal Tears and Episiotomy, Persistent Pelvic Pain and more.

Please do not suffer in silence, book a consult with an Integriti GP to have your condition correctly diagnosed and treated. Do not be embarrassed, we are here to help you in a professional, discreet and compassionate way.

Read more to explore conditions:

Vulval irritation

The vulval skin can become inflamed for many reasons, just like the skin elsewhere on the body. In the vulval area it can be particularly sensitive as it is a delicate area. Any products you use on the vulva can cause irritation leading to discomfort, swelling, redness, heat and itchiness. Be careful about washing the area, try not to use products and make sure your clothes are loose fitting. If you suffer from skin conditions elsewhere such as eczema, remember they can also often affect the vulva and speak to your doctor if you are also experiencing vulval symptoms.
Infections such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis can also cause irritation and often will also lead to a discharge. If you have discharge you will usually be advised to have a swab to identify if an infection is causing your symptoms.

STIs

Some STIs will give you pain or other signs such as blisters. Common ones are chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes. Please remember though that not all STIs cause symptoms. They can still be passed on to others and can also sometimes develop into pelvic inflammatory disease. This can cause long term pain and if untreated, can also affect your fertility. It is best to use barrier contraceptives to prevent these conditions, especially when you change partner.

Vaginismus

This is a painful and debilitating condition. The muscles in the pelvic floor tighten and this can lead to pain when having sex and also when using internal products such as menstrual cups and tampons. If you suffer from this condition, speak to us about it, it can be treated! We usually put together a team of specialists to be involved in treatment, such as a GP, a pelvic floor physiotherapist and a psychologist. Integriti GP's and allied health professionals can provide you with this multi disciplinary pathway.

Vulval/vaginal dryness

Anyone can suffer from vaginal dryness but it is very common later in life. Oestrogen usually acts upon the vaginal tissues preventing dryness and this benefit is lost after the menopause when oestrogen levels fall. It can be diagnosed during an examination. Vaginal lubricants, moisturisers and oestrogen can help to improve your symptoms. Also take care when washing and drying as the tissues can often tear more easily.

Vulvodynia

This is often a long-term condition which many women struggle with for years before diagnosis. It causes a burning pain and can be located in a specific place or infect the area as a whole. It’s often difficult to describe. It may be caused by touch ‘provoked vulvodynia’ or be a more constant pain. An examination can help to identify you are suffering from this condition and creams and tablets may help to ease symptoms. A physiotherapist specialising in this area is often crucially important and psychology may also be helpful. Integriti GP's and allied health professionals can provide you with this multi-disciplinary pathway.

Lichen sclerosis

Lichen sclerosis is a specific condition affecting the vulva and surrounding area. It often presents with sensitivity and itch and on examination there will be white, thickened patches visible. It is more common when you are post-menopausal but women of any age can suffer from this condition. It can cause the vaginal area to change and start closing together. Steroid creams are usually the best treatment and you will need to be monitored for life as there is an increased risk of vulvar cancer. If you have this condition and develop increased pain or new symptoms you must see your doctor for a review and examination. You may be advised to have a biopsy-a small piece of tissue removed to confirm this diagnosis.

Vaginal tears and episiotomy

During childbirth the vaginal tissues may tear and sometimes the area is deliberately cut, an episiotomy, in an effort to reduce the risk of damage due to an uncontrolled tear. This may be used for a forceps delivery. The area is usually stitched together and heals well with initial pain relief. If you have an episiotomy or tear which starts to become more painful, swollen or weeps you may need to have treatment for an infection.

Persistent pelvic pain

Women who suffer from long term pelvic pain may also develop vulval/vaginal pain because the pelvic floor muscles become overactive or they develop vulvodynia, or because of both these conditions.

Please do not suffer in silence, book a consult with an Integriti GP to have your condition correctly diagnosed and treated. Do not be embarrassed, we are here to help you in a professional, discreet and compassionate way.


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