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Vulvar vestibulitis is a condition that causes pain and redness in the vulvar vestibule, the area at the entrance to the vagina between the vulva and the vagina. In this condition, the skin and the mucous glands in the skin, known as the lesser vestibular glands, become irritated and inflamed. The condition falls under the category of Vulvodynia, or chronic pain of the vulva that is unexplained by infection or disease.
Many women suffer from vulvar vestibulitis, but the medical community has had little success in treating the ailment. It can occur in women in any age group, from early youth to late in life. Sexual activity seems to have little impact on whether or not one gets the condition; women who are sexually active and women who are not sexually active have reported suffering from the seemingly-causeless genital pain.
In some cases, vulvar vestibulitis seems to be triggered by contact with an object or by sexual intercourse. In other cases, the pain is constant and contact with any object does nothing to improve or worsen the condition. Vulvar vestibulitis often causes dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse. The contact from sexual intercourse causes further irritation and more pain around the vulva, often making intercourse extremely unpleasant for those suffering from the condition.
Pain and redness are the main symptoms of vulvar vestibulitis. Such pain often initially appears after pressure is placed on the vulva, as from tight clothes or from a bicycle seat. The pain typically takes the form of burning, irritation, stinging, or a raw sensation around the vestibular region. The condition is diagnosed after a physical examination and a test of vaginal discharge to rule out infection.
While no absolute cure for vulvar vestibulitis has been discovered, there are several things that those suffering from the condition can do to lessen the pain and discomfort. Wearing cotton underwear, avoiding vulvar irritants, cleaning the vagina, and using lubricants during intercourse can all decrease the constant level of pain. Some patients have had success with various ointments and topical creams that reduce the pain and inflammation. Physical therapy helps some to better handle the pain. Though it is a more drastic step, surgery to remove some of the inflamed tissue has had high levels of success.
Physical health isn't the only concern. People suffering from chronic pain disorders often experience tremendous frustration and depression because they can not experience life at a normal comfort level. This is especially true in the case of vulvar vestibulitis. The inflammation is not only painful, it can strongly affect sexuality as well.