Menopause & vulva pain

Written by cindi pearce
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Menopause brings along with it some perplexing physical issues that women have never had to address before and may be uncomfortable speaking about. One of those changes includes vulva pain or pain in the outside genitalia region. This is not uncommon among women who are in menopause.

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Vulvodynia

When a woman is experiencing pain in the vulva, it is called vulvodynia. Doctors don't know what causes this. There is no evidence that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are the culprit. Vulvodynia impacts the vulva, the vaginal opening, the labia and the clitoris. If a woman has generalised vulvodynia, she may have constant or periodic pain in the vulva. If she has vulva vestibulitis, the pain is in the vestibule, which is the entrance to the vagina.

Ageing

The external genitalia in women consist of the vulva, the labia and the surrounding skin. As women get older the vulva becomes less flexible. The connective tissues and underlying fat break down, according to Healthinaging.org. When this happens, inflammation, fungal, yeast or bacterial infections and irritation can occur. Women can develop allergic reactions in this region, which can result in itching, swelling, redness and pain around the vulva.

Be Aware

You must keep in mind that this area sweats more than other areas of your body so there is more moisture present, which makes this region ripe for infection and irritation. Hygienic products can irritate this area, so avoid using anything that might result in an allergic response.

Lack of Estrogen

When a woman's oestrogen levels decline, her external genitalia may change. It can become thick and change in colour. The skin and labia may get lighter or darker in colour. The thickening can also cause the vaginal opening and labia to shrink. This can cause pain during sex.

Tumours

Vulva tumours are rare but do occur. The tumour will be thick and pigmented in areas. Usually vulva tumours aren't malignant but they can be in women over the age of 70.

Treatment

Treatment for vulva pain depends on what the underlying issue is. If a woman has a bacterial infection, she may be prescribed antibiotics. If she has a yeast or fungal infection, she can be given an anti-fungal agent, either orally, topically or intra-vaginally. Applying corticosteroids to the area may help relieve itching and inflammation. Some women opt to use oestrogen cream. Lotions that contain lanolin may help but don't use petroleum jelly.

Recommendation

If you are experiencing vulva pain, it may be due to your age and lack of oestrogen; however, you should see your doctor because age isn't always the sole reason for this problem.

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