Dr Maggie Ju talks about Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia is a chronic pain condition around the vulva in women — a persistent burning or stinging pain. It is far from uncommon, with up to 15% of women known to be suffering — and with misplaced embarrassment preventing some form talking about their problem, the number is probably higher. 

The pain may be constantly present, and get worse under pressure of tampon use or sex, or the pain may only arise under pressure. It may also not be confined to the vulva, but may spread to the thigh, tummy or back. There are other symptoms, such as severe period pain, heavy periods, frequent urination and painful urination, and changed bowel habits. 
Vulvodynia can affect women of all ages — I have treated women from their teens to over sixty.
Its cause is still unknown. Causes may include nerve irritation, abnormal response in vulvar cells to an infection or trauma, genetic factors that make the vulva respond poorly to chronic inflammation, hypersensitivity to yeast infections, muscle spasms, allergies or irritation to chemicals or other substances, hormonal changes, history of sexual abuse, frequent antibiotic use.

It is a distressing condition and can have enormous impact on quality of life. 

Treatments are unfortunately limited. My patients have told me of the variety of treatments they have tried, including local anesthetic, vaginal injection, pain killers, physiotherapy treatment, dilator, pelvic floor therapy. Sadly, none has helped.

Acupuncture, on the other hand, offers relief.
I have helped many women with vulodynia with acupuncture treatment, including some with such severe pain they could not sit, could not wear trousers, or get a good night's sleep. I meet such client wearing skirts and standing in reception — and after my treatments, I find them wearing jeans and sitting comfortably on the sofa. 
Vulvodynia like any other chronic pain is not easy to treat. It needs lots of determination and the correct treatment. One acupuncture treatment will not be sufficient, and it may be that regular treatments are required. 

A footnote: doctors often prescribe antidepressants to treat vulvodynia. Some patients think this helps, and some don’t. With acupuncture we can focus on the problem without affecting the mind with chemicals.
Dr Maggie Ju is available at Anamaya on Mondays, Tuesdays,Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays. Read more about Dr Maggie Ju here.


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