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Many women experience labial pain at some point. Vulval and labial pain can become a chronic problem due to misdiagnosis and incorrect treatments. There are many causes for vulva pain that need to be ruled out. For some symptoms, there is no known cause. Most vulva pain can be linked to infections and diseases. Although this is true, there are two specific diagnoses that have no known cause at this time.
Overview Of Causes
Labial pain and burning can be caused from many types of infections. These infections include bacterial vaginosis, yeast and thrush. This is to name a few. Non-infectious conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, lichen sclerosis and cystitis can also cause labial pain.
Thrush is a fungal organism that is normally in the body. When it gets out of control, it can cause a vaginal infection. Signs include a thick, white, yeasty discharge along with burning, itching and soreness. Anti-fungal drugs are normally used to treat thrush. These creams can often cause similar symptoms to the thrush itself.
Bacterial vaginosis is a culprit for labial pain. Women experience burning and soreness. There is an accompanying white or gray discharge that will have a fishy smell.
Bacterial vaginosis is caused when good bacteria living in the vagina are replaced by bad bacteria. Many women misdiagnose this condition as thrush. It is important to visit a doctor to determine what is causing symptoms. Bacterial vaginosis can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease if not properly treated. It may also cause problems during pregnancy. It can be cured easily with antibiotics.
Trichomonis vaginalis is an infection that can cause labial soreness and inflammation. The most noticed symptom is a yellowish green, foamy discharge. A woman may find it painful to urinate. Trichomonis is caused by a parasite in the mucus of the vagina.
This parasite is spread through vaginal intercourse and any exchange of vaginal fluid. Antibiotics taken by mouth is the usual treatment.
Herpes is also a common cause of labial pain. This virus exists in two types. Herpes simplex 1 is the cause for cold sores around the mouth. Simplex 2 is the cause for sores in the genital area. Herpes simplex 1 can cause vaginal infections, and simplex 2 can cause mouth sores. You will notice painful sores on the vulva, vagina and sometimes buttocks and thighs. It may hurt to urinate. Sores will usually clear up within 7 to 12 days. There may be a tingly and itchy sensation within the vagina. This is often the first sign of herpes. Subsequent outbreaks will usually last for a shorter duration, and sores will heal more quickly. Herpes is spread through direct skin contact when there are sores. Treatment usually consists of antiviral medications. There are painkilling creams that can help with the labial pain. There is no permanent cure for herpes.
Non-Infectious Skin Diseases
There are two non-infections skin diseases that cause labial pain and discomfort. The first one is lichen sclerosis, which affects the vulval and perianal skin. This most commonly affects middle aged women, but can affect women of all ages. This disorder can affect other areas of the body. Symptoms include soreness, itchiness, stinging and cracks. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms. Skin often becomes pale. Parts of the vulva can fuse together and shrink. This is often misdiagnosed as thrush when doctors aren't familiar with lichen sclerosis.
Lichen planus is a skin disease that can affect any body part. It causes raw patches on the vulva and labia. Steroid cream is the usual treatment.
Vulval Pain Syndromes
Vulval vestibulitis is a syndrome with no known cause. Women experience labial and vulval pain when the area around the vaginal opening is touched. This may be from clothing or intercourse. The area is inflamed, but is subtle.
Dysaesthetic vulvodynia (previously essential vulvodynia) is a constant pain. It is often described by women as a nerve pain. Nerve fibers are said to be damaged or irritated. There is always pain, aching and burning. Symptoms will differ among women. The inside of the thighs, anal area and pain when having a bowel movement may be experienced.