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What are the Different Kinds of Vulvar Disease?

By P.S. Jones
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A vulvar disease is any disease or condition that affects the human female’s vulva and vagina. These types of diseases can range from sexually transmitted diseases to cancer, and include infections and autoimmune disorders. Vulva refers to a woman’s entire genitals, whereas vagina refers only to the internal structure. Sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably.

The vulva is a sexual organ, and therefore the most common type of vulvar disease is the sexually transmitted disease (STD). STDs have a variety of causes, including bacteria and virus, as well as fungi and parasites. The common thread in all of STDs is that they are contagious, and are generally transmitted through sexual contact. Gonorrhea, pubic lice, and genital warts are all sexually transmitted diseases. Other examples include genital herpes and trichomoniasis.

Urinary infections, including bladder infection and urinary tract infection (UTI), are another common vulvar disease. Each of these is caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract, causing painful urination, blood in the urine and smelly discharge from the vulva. Urinary infections are one of the few vulvar diseases that can treated be with nonprescription medication, but if these infections suddenly become frequent, the patient should still seek a doctor’s advice. If not treated, these infections can lead to serious kidney complications.

Vulvar disease also includes several types of vulvar cancer. Symptoms of sqaumous cell vulvar carcinoma include red, pink or white bumps that resemble warts. Another symptom is white-appearing or rough feeling skin on vulva. Melanoma of the vulva is a sort of skin cancer on the vulva, and accounts for a small percentage of the vulvar cancer cases. This type of vulvar cancer is characterized by a dark pigmented growth.

The first step to avoid vulvar disease is to always practice safe sex to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Secondly, drink lots of water and urinate frequently to avoid build-ups of bacteria in the vagina or urinary track. Also, avoid wearing any tight clothing or underwear as well as any prolonged moisture because these are breeding conditions for bacteria. Wash the vulva at least once a day with products that do not contain fragrances, dyes or deodorants as those can irritate the vagina. Always consult a physician if any unusual odors, lesions, or symptoms are detected.

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