The vulva is the group of external structures that comprise the female genitalia. Vulvar disorders and diseases are often a complex mix of several problems. Most women believe that vulvar itching, burning, and vaginal discharge can only mean one thing: a yeast infection. However, more than two dozen diseases can cause the symptoms of genital itching, burning, irritation, rawness, throbbing, urinary frequency, urinary urgency and pain during sex. Knowing self-care tips for vulvar pain is essential for some women, here are some coping measures to relieve symptoms and prevent further irritation:

Clothing and Laundry

  • Wear all-white cotton underwear.
  • Do not wear pantyhose (wear thigh high or knee high hose instead).
  • Wear loose-fitting pants or skirts.
  • Remove wet bathing suits and exercise clothing promptly.
  • Use dermatologically approved detergent such as Purex or Clear.
  • Double-rinse underwear and any other clothing that comes into contact with the vulva.
  • Do not use fabric softener on undergarments.

Hygiene

  • Use soft, white, unscented toilet paper.
  • Use lukewarm or cool sitz baths to relieve burning and irritation.
  • Avoid getting shampoo on the vulvar area.
  • Do not use bubble bath, feminine hygiene products, or any perfumed creams or soaps.
  • Wash the vulva with cool to lukewarm water only.
  • Rinse the vulva with water after urination.
  • Urinate before the bladder is full.
  • Prevent constipation by adding fiber to your diet (if necessary, use a psyllium product such as Metamucil) and drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily.
  • Use 100% cotton menstrual pads and tampons.

Sexual intercourse

  • Use a lubricant that is water soluble, e.g., Astroglide.
  • Ask your physician for a prescription for a topical anesthetic, e.g., Lidocaine gel 5%. (This may sting for the first 3-5 minutes after application.)
  • Apply ice or a frozen blue gel pack (lunch box size or feminine gel packs made to fit discreetly in your underwear) using the cover that comes with your feminine gel pack or wrapped in one layer of a hand towel to relieve burning after intercourse.
  • Urinate (to prevent infection) and rinse vulva with cool water after sexual intercourse.
  • Do not use contraceptive creams or spermicides.

Physical Activities

  • Avoid exercises that put direct pressure on the vulva such as bicycle riding and horseback riding.
  • Limit intense exercises that create a lot of friction in the vulvar area (try lower intensity exercises such as walking).
  • Use a frozen gel pack wrapped in a towel to relieve symptoms after exercise.
  • Enroll in an exercise class such as yoga to learn stretching and relaxation exercises.
  • Don’t swim in highly chlorinated pools.
  • Avoid the use of hot tubs.

Finally…

Take control of your health today, contact us to set up an appointment or talk about your individual symptoms and health risks. Be sure to keep the doctors updated on your symptoms.

(Some information provided by the NVA).