Vulvar pain is a much more common female health problem than one might think: it affects 4 million French women. Vulvar pain, although often under-discussed, can affect the quality of life of women of any age.
To understand and identify these pains and their causes, it is important to understand what the vulva is and how vulvar pain is defined, which is not to be confused with vaginal pain.
This is what we will cover in our article below.
What is the vulva?
To identify these pains it is important to know how to locate them and this requires a good knowledge of this area.
First of all, the vulva refers to the external organs of the female reproductive system, this includes:
The Mount of Venus
The mons de Venus, also called Mont pubis, is the name given to the area covering the female pubis. This area is located between the lower abdomen and the genitals. The pubis is one of the pelvic bones protecting the uterus and is located where the two thighs meet.
HAS During puberty, this area generally becomes covered with hair.
The labia majora
Also called the external labia, they are located on the outside of the female genital tract and constitute the skin that frames the vulvar slit, surrounding both the labia minora and the external part of the clitoris. The labia majora are generally fleshy and can vary in size, shape and color from woman to woman. They play an important role in protecting the internal genitalia and helping to maintain a suitable environment for vaginal health.
The labia minora
Also called the inner labia, they surround and protect the internal structures of the vulva, including the outer part of the clitoris, the urethra, and the vagina. Unlike the labia majora, the labia minora are hairless and serve to protect the entrance to the vagina.
The external part of the clitoris and its hood
The external part of the clitoris, also called the glans, is a small organ located at the intersection of the external lips, at the top of the vulva. This visible part of the clitoris is partially or sometimes completely covered by its hood. It is made up of erectile tissue and has a high concentration of nerve endings. Thanks to its constitution, the clitoris is specially designed to provide pleasure.
The orifice of the urethra
The vestibule of the vagina
This term refers to the entrance to the vagina.
The surface of the vulva is dotted with various glands that produce a lubricating fluid intended to keep the vulvar area moist.
The vulva is an essential part of the female reproductive system. It fulfills important functions in terms of hygiene, protection and pleasure.
What is vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is the term to define chronic pain (lasting more than 3 months) in the vulva. This condition can significantly affect the quality of life of women who suffer from it, as it can make daily activities, sexual intercourse, and even simple walking extremely painful.
Vulvodynia is a complex and often misunderstood disorder because it can be caused by a variety of factors and present with varying symptoms. Common symptoms include shooting pain, burning, itching, irritation, or a foreign body sensation in the vulvar area. The pain may be constant or come in episodes, and it may vary in intensity. It can also be generalized (pain more widespread at the vulvovaginal level) or localized.
The causes of vulvodynia are not always clear, and they can be multiple:
- genetic, hormonal, psychological and environmental factors can contribute to its development.
- Infections, allergies, hormonal changes, immune system disorders, and reactions to personal care products are all factors that can play a role in vulvodynia.
- Gynecological pathologies (endometriosis, PCOS, pelvic congestion, etc.) are often accompanied by vulvodynia.
Diagnosing vulvodynia can be difficult to make due to the complexity of this condition. If you suffer from vulvodynia, do not hesitate to consult a gynecologist or women's health specialist for a proper diagnosis.
Treatment for vulvodynia is individualized based on symptoms and underlying causes. It may include pain relief medications, creams, physical therapies, changes in personal hygiene, stress and anxiety management, and psychotherapy. Some women find relief through relaxation techniques, while others may need to see a psychologist or sexologist to address the psychological aspects of the pain.
As nurses, we know how important it is to take care of your intimacy in the healthiest way possible. It is important to educate yourself and get to know your body in addition to the advice provided by healthcare professionals.