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Vulvodynia is persistent, unexplained pain in the vulva. The vulva is the female genital area including the skin surrounding the opening of the vagina (the lips and clitoris). The pain can extend to the buttocks and inner thighs.

This pain may or may not be triggered by touch but the vulva usually looks normal

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Burning/stinging/throbbing pain

Pain triggered by touch (e.g. sex or inserting a tampon)

Constant pain

Pain which gets worse when sitting down

Pain in the whole genital area and anus

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Reducing vulval irritation

avoiding soap, bubble baths, female wipes and deodorants in the area to protect the skin from irritation

Local anaesthetic

Your doctor can prescribe local anaesthetic gel is a water-based gel which contains a weak amount of a local anaesthetic such as lidocaine (lignocaine) - it is particularly useful when penetration is affected if used 20 minutes prior (be sure to wipe off fully if using condoms as it could interfere with the protective ability)


Medicine  in the form of tablets can be used to slow down the painful messages being sent to the brain. These are most useful when vulval pain is spontaneous because long-term painkiller use isn’t always preferable 

Vaginal dilators

Dilators can be inserted to relax the muscles around the entrance to the vagina and to gently stretch the area. These can be helpful to overcome the tension in the pelvic floor muscles

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