One of the most painful effects that sometimes happens in women who have fibromyalgia is a disorder known as vulvodynia. Obviously, pain during sex is a side effect of fibromyalgia, and your menstrual cycle can cause a lot of pain as well, but vulvodynia is something entirely different.
This is a constant pain that is in your vulva (which is in your vagina), and it makes it difficult to do things like having sex. But why is it so intertwined with fibromyalgia? And what can we do in order to try and find relief from the issues that come with the vulvodynia and fibromyalgia pain?
Why Are Vulvodynia and Fibromyalgia So Interconnected?
As mentioned above, vulvodynia is one of those disorders that make it difficult for you to have sex. You constantly have itching, burning, and other painful sensations throughout your vaginal area. It’s sensitive to the touch and it may be difficult for you to even move your legs on certain days. All in all, this disorder makes it hard for us to even function, let alone trying to make love with a partner or clean the area and keep it hygienic.
But why is it so linked with fibromyalgia? What happened to make it so that the two disorders almost always happen together? Honestly, that’s a bit mystery, because researchers aren’t even completely sure of the original cause of vulvodynia or fibromyalgia.
That being said, there are a few possible theories out there that overlap between the two, thus making it seem as if they could be the reason for a woman to end up having both disorders.
The first reason is because of inflammation. Since inflammation is so common in fibromyalgia, the fact that your vulva gets inflamed isn’t really an odd thing. There are also theories out there related to the nerve problems that both of the disorders have to deal with – since you’re hypersensitive with both of the disorders, it’s no wonder that you end up dealing with one or the other.
In the worst cases of both vulvodynia and fibromyalgia, you can end up having muscle spasms as well. As you can see, there’s just so much overlap that it’s not really surprising (or rare) that women with fibromyalgia end up with vulvodynia, and vice versa (even though the latter is a lot less common than the former).
What Treatments Can We Use for Vulvodynia and Fibromyalgia?
This is a great question, because sometimes it is difficult for us to find treatments that allow us to get relief from both of the disorders. Luckily, there are a few ways that have been shown to work effectively, so you want to make sure that your doctor tries all of these before putting you on multiple medications at the same time.
There are some things that you can do yourself in order to help reduce the pain from vulvodynia and fibromyalgia. Don’t use anything with scents or other irritants, especially on your undergarments.
Avoid using scented soaps and wear cotton undergarments and menstrual napkins/tampons. Sit on a foam seat in order to reduce the pressure on your vulva. Take baths regularly and try mediation or yoga in order to help relax the muscles, thus reducing the spasms and tension that can happen in your vaginal area.
Then, you’ve got the other types of treatment that your doctor may prescribe for your specific case of vulvodynia and fibromyalgia. Here are some of the most commonly prescribed or recommended medications and treatments that doctors will tell you to consider when you are suffering from both of these disorders at the same time.
– Medical creams that help to numb and loosen up the area – lidocaine is one of the most common types, but others are out there as well.
– Nerve blocks, which “cut off” the nerves so that the area isn’t as oversensitive – but this may cause a lack of pleasure during sex as well, so you want to be careful.
– Anti seizure medications and other medications that are used to treat muscle spasms. These help to relax your muscles and help your body to be able to deal with the pain more readily.
– Types of physical therapy and exercise, both of which can help your body to be more flexible and to strengthen your muscles, thus reducing the spasms and other problems that may be going on in and around your vulva.
– In the worst cases, your doctor may recommend that you go to a gynecologist, because they will be able to give you other alternatives that can help reduce the stress from the vulvodynia end of your pain. Sometimes, surgery is necessary because the pain is so bad. Basically, if the tissue is damaged and the nerves aren’t going to correct themselves, it may be better to remove some of the tissue instead.
Your treatment plan may include one, some, or even all of the things that we’ve mentioned here. As with most fibromyalgia and vulvodynia treatment plans, the plan needs to be personalized to you and the problems that you are dealing with on a daily basis. Everyone is different, so understanding that and making sure that you are getting the relief that you deserve should be the main focus of the specialist(s) that you are working with.
There are lots of options for treating vulvodynia and fibromyalgia, thankfully, so it’s not something that you’re stuck with. You should be able to enjoy sex again, and you should be able to have a better overall quality of life if you get treatment as soon as possible.
As you likely know, problems like these can have a lot of negative effects on your marriage and your sex life if you don’t get the pain under control. So, by considering different treatment options, you can determine which treatments work for the two diseases and which ones don’t. Consult with your doctor in order to get a solid diagnosis and to figure out what your treatment plan needs to look like.
Women’s Issues: Vulvodynia http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org/vulvodynia.html
Help for Vulvodynia; Maybe Also Fibromyalgia, Cystitis, IBS http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201111/help-vulvodynia-maybe-also-fibromyalgia-cystitis-ibs
Vulvodynia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vulvodynia