Fibromyalgia is not a new illness that is affecting women and men. However, it is an illness that is becoming more mainstream as it was previously not an issue that was studied much.
Now, studies are being conducted to look at just why so many women compared to men are getting this, along with all the other issues that seem to stem from having this.
There are several issues that men and women with fibromyalgia face. These issues are often stated as widespread pain throughout the body and having an overwhelming feeling of being tired.
However, for women, even more, issues are becoming prevalent in those who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. And one of these issues is Vulvodynia.
What is Vulvodynia?
This may be an unfamiliar term to many women, especially if they are having these symptoms but have yet to talk to their doctor about this. Vulvodynia is associated with painful intercourse.
During intercourse, a woman may have throbbing, burning, itching, sore, stinging sensations and overall pain in the vulvar area. While the vulvar area may appear normal, it does have signs of being swollen and inflamed.
What is interesting is that around 65% of women who are affected with fibromyalgia, they have signs of Vulvodynia as well. Therefore, it can be assumed that most women have experienced these sensations at one point or another.
Having this issue along with the issues of fibromyalgia can pose many threats to a woman. She may have personal relationships that suffer, which can lead to depression and feelings of being inadequate.
However, this is something that can be treated and you can get back to a more normal sex life that is not affected by these issues.
An interesting finding with this issue is that women who have chronic yeast infections or vaginal infection are going to be more prone to developing this.
There are also talks of how lowered estrogen levels can also cause this to happen, which is common during menopause.
The Connection Between Vulvodynia and Fibromyalgia
Informatory, most doctors are still stating that the connection between these two issues is still a mystery.
There are several theories however that are being considered. One reason is the inflammation that is caused by fibromyalgia.
While most people think of inflammation in terms of the body, most do not connect the female anatomy with this inflammation.
However, due to the inflammation that is seen in the vulvar area, it can be assumed that the fibromyalgia is causing this.
Another theory relates to the nerves in this area being affected by fibromyalgia. After all, fibromyalgia can set nerves on fire for some people.
Thus, the nerves in the vulvar area being affected come as no surprise to most medical professionals. The muscle spasms that are caused by fibromyalgia may also be playing a role in the female anatomy as well.
Ultimately, while there is no concrete evidence as to why this happens, it is an issue that medical professionals are aware of.
More studies are being conducted to nail down just why fibromyalgia may be causing this issue. Until the true reason is found however, the goal is to help treat this and allow a woman to have a normal, functioning sex life.
Treating Both Vulvodynia and Fibromyalgia
Most women want to find a method that is going to treat vulvodynia and fibromyalgia at the same time. There are a few that many medical professionals are suggesting.
These treatments include:
- A medical cream that contains lidocaine to help numb and loosen up the area.
- Nerve blockers that can cut off the nerves from being so sensitive. However, this could cause a lack of pleasure during sex, so it is something that most women have to decide whether this is the best option for them or not.
- Medications to treat muscle spasms have been shown to help reduce the pain in the area.
- An exercise that is meant to strengthen the muscles can help.
- Physical therapy can help a woman to get more flexibility which can help with muscles spams around the vulva.
There are times in which a doctor may refer a woman to the gynecologist to deal with this issue on its own. In the worst-case scenarios, surgery is utilized.
This is when the tissues have become so damaged that the nerves are not going to correct themselves. In these cases, the surgeon is going to remove the tissue that has been damaged in an effort to help the woman to get back to normal sex life.
What You Can do to Treat Vulvodynia
For many women finding relief is also going to involve changing their normal routines and watching what personal decisions they are making.
Here are some self-care tips from medical professionals that can help with this pain and irritation:
- When washing underwear, specifically panties, avoid using detergents that have a lot of irritants in them.
- Do not use fabric softener on panties as this can cause more irritation.
- Wear 100% cotton panties and only in white to avoid any irritation from dyes and material.
- Avoid shampoo in the vulvar area.
- Avoid any contraceptive creams or spermicides, along with perfumed pads, tampons or other creams.
- Avoid high chlorine levels as this could make the irritation worse.
- After urination and intercourse, a woman should rinse the vulva with cool water.
- Foods that irritate the urine such as greens, beans, berries, nuts or chocolate should be avoided.
- Do not wear tight-fitting pants or skirts, and avoid pantyhose at all costs.
Also, consider these tips when you expect to have a lot of pressure on the vulva which can make the irritation and pain felt worse.
These tips include:
- During sexual intercourse using a water-soluble lubricant.
- Activities like bicycling or horseback riding can put direct pressure on the vulva, so these need to be avoided.
- When sitting for long periods of time consider sitting on foam or rubber doughnut.
- You can utilize cool sitz baths for helping with pain relief.
- Putting an ice pack or a warming pack on the vulva after intercourse has been shown to help with the pain.
The Impact on Your Life
The good news is that vulvodynia is not going to be a life-threatening issue. However, it can place some stress on your normal activities.
Physically, women may find that this results in not being able to have enjoyable sex, which can affect the entire relationship.
This can then affect the self-image a woman has of herself. In these cases, therapy can help to come to terms with the depression that you may be feeling.
The most important aspect to remember is that this is an issue that can be treated. You can get back to normal, and when coupling this with treating your fibromyalgia, your life can get back to normal.
Many women feel as though the situation is hopeless, however, this is not the case. Talk with your doctor and consider a gynecologist to help so that you can find a routine that is going to help you and solve these issues.