Health & Wellness

Causes of Vulvodynia

Today’s topic for V Awareness Week is vulvodynia causes. Check out what is vulvodynia if you missed yesterday’s post. I’m writing a series of posts on this chronic pain condition that has affected every aspect of my life for so many years.

Causes of Vulvodynia - I share several potential causes including my own theories on what caused my vulvodynia.

Vulvodynia Causes

No one really knows what the actual cause is, but they do have some theories. I have had the condition for the past five years and I also have some theories as to why I developed it. However, I want to make clear that it’s NOT an STD or an infection. The NVA (National Vulvodynia Association) lists a number of potential causes on their site including:

  • Nerve injury or irritation in the nerves that transmit pain and other sensations to the vulva (like the pudendal nerve)
  • Increased nerve fiber density in the vulva (they have found that women with this condition have way more nerve endings in that area than the average woman).
  • Elevated levels of inflammatory substances in the vulva
  • An abnormal response to infection or trauma
  • Altered hormone receptors in the vulvar tissue
  • Localized hypersensitivity to Candida (yeast) or other vulvovaginal organisms
  • Pelvic floor muscle spasm or weakness
  • Genetic susceptibility to chronic widespread pain or chronic vestibular inflammation

For me personally, I think mine began as a result of a few different factors. My American gynecologist says I was the perfect storm…I had all the factors and it created this horrible and relentless pain condition.

In December 2005, I developed what I thought was a yeast infection. I went to the doctor who prescribed me the yeast infection cream, Terazol. Mind you, he didn’t take swabs or even do an exam. He just prescribed me the cream. I went home and applied the cream as directed before bed. All was fine. I went to work the next day and by mid morning I started getting burning, shooting pains down the inside of the vaginal wall.

By afternoon, I was on fire. I felt like I had a blowtorch between my legs. It was awful. I thought it was just the yeast infection and it would go away. Well, it didn’t. In fact, the burning increased. I went to the ER and was told by the doctor there that I was probably having an allergic reaction to the yeast cream or the applicator to insert the cream. He prescribed me a steroid cream and Prednisone and sent me on my way. In my gut, I knew it was more. I so wished I had been wrong. I believe an allergic reaction from the yeast infection cream, Terazol, was a trigger for me.

However, there were a few other factors that I want to mention as well that I know now years later. I was on birth control pills as a teenager and into my 20s. The pill can affect your hormone receptors in your vulvar skin. It blocks them so the skin and the nerves change. Dr. Coady said when I saw her for the first time back in April 2009 that my skin was so thin she could see through it. I was in bad need of topical hormones and I was only 31 years old. I haven’t taken the pill since I was 28 and I never will again. They don’t tell you that vulvar pain can be a side effect in the brochures or at least I wasn’t aware of it.

Plus, I had two very hard deliveries and my girls were almost 10 lbs each. I had tearing and so much scar tissue. My muscles really took a beating. I have been in pelvic floor physiotherapy for years and know that my muscles are both weak and very tight. Not a good combo to have.

Every woman will have a different reason why they believe their pain started. These are my theories as to why I am in pain. Believe me, I have thought about what I did to cause this pain or why it’s happening to me. I still don’t really fully understand it and maybe I never will.

Update 2018: I’m pretty sure that tight muscles are a big component of my pain. I’ve been seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist for over a year. She’s been working on my groin muscles lately and doing some dry needling. Though it hurts afterwards, it’s a good kind of pain – like having a massage. I usually get some relief for a few days after my treatment.

Read the rest of my V Awareness Posts.

What are your theories on vulvodynia causes?

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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