What Are the Symptoms of Vaginal Pain?
The specific symptoms of vaginal pain and discomfort vary, depending on the underlying cause. For example, vulvar vestibulitis is a condition that causes pain only when there’s pressure put on your vagina. In contrast, vulvodynia is a condition that causes constant chronic pain.
Depending on your specific condition, you might experience one or more of the following symptoms associated with vaginal pain:
- Pain during intercourse.
If your vaginal pain is caused by an infection, you may develop abnormal vaginal discharge. For example, it may look or smell different than usual. This can indicate a yeast or bacterial infection.
What Causes Vaginal Pain?
Vaginal pain may be confined to your vaginal area. Or, it may radiate down from your pelvis or cervix.
The most common cause of vaginal pain is infection. Examples include:
- Yeast infection
Other potential causes of vaginal pain include:
- Trauma caused by sex, childbirth, surgery, or other medical procedures.
- Vulvovaginal atrophy due to a drop in estrogen following menopause.
- Vulvar vestibulitis.
- Cervical cancer.
Vaginal pain can also stem from a condition called dyspareunia. This is a medical term for painful intercourse. It can be caused by insufficient lubrication during sex from hormonal changes or lack of sexual arousal.
Vaginal pain can also stem from psychological conditions, such as a history of sexual abuse.
In some cases, your doctor may not be able to determine the cause of your vaginal pain. Vulvodynia is the medical term for chronic vaginal pain with no known cause.
Who Is at Risk for Vaginal Pain?
Women of all ages can experience vaginal pain. In some cases, your medical history may increase your risk. For example, hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, menopause, or a hysterectomy may raise your risk of vaginal pain. If you have a history of breast cancer treatment, you’re also at higher risk.
Certain medications may also raise your risk of vaginal pain. For example, statins are medications that help lower cholesterol. They’re known to cause vaginal dryness. This can lead to vaginal pain.
Advancing age is also a risk factor. Menopause causes changes in your hormone levels and thinning of your vaginal tissue. This affects your vaginal lubrication and can contribute to vaginal pain.
How Is Vaginal Pain Diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing persistent or recurring vaginal pain, make an appointment with Drs. Kimble and Kimble today. They can help diagnose the cause of your vaginal pain. They will likely request your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and if needed, order one or more tests.
For your medical history, you’ll be asked questions about your health, such as your symptoms, diagnosed medical conditions, and surgeries or other medical procedures that you’ve undergone. You may also be asked about any medications or supplements that you’ve recently taken. You’ll also likely be asked about your sexual health and habits as well.
In some cases, a physical exam of your vaginal area may be needed. During this examination, they’ll check for signs of redness, swelling, damage, or scarring. They may apply pressure with a cotton-tipped applicator to your vulva and vagina to check for pain. If you have vulvodynia, you might experience severe pain when any pressure is applied.
When required, a sample of your vaginal discharge may be taken for testing. A high concentration of unusual types or numbers of bacteria, fungi, or viruses, can be a sign that an infection may be causing your pain.
If your pain is severe or your doctor suspects you have a serious condition, such as cervical cancer, they may recommend further testing. This can consist of obtaining tissue samples from the cervix for analysis. If they suspect your vaginal pain has psychological origins, they may refer you to a mental health provider for evaluation.
What Is Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain is a common problem among women. Its nature and intensity may fluctuate, and its cause is often unclear. In some cases, no disease is evident. Pelvic pain can be categorized as either acute, meaning the pain is sudden and severe, or chronic, meaning the pain either comes and goes or is constant, lasting for a period of months or longer. Pelvic pain that lasts longer than six months and shows no improvement with treatment is known as chronic pelvic pain. Pelvic pain may originate in genital or other organs in and around the pelvis, or it may be psychological. This can make pain feel worse or actually cause a sensation of pain, when no physical problem is present.
What Causes Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain may have multiple causes, including:
- Inflammation or direct irritation of nerves caused by injury, fibrosis, pressure, or intraperitoneal inflammation.
- Contractions or cramps of both smooth and skeletal muscles.
- Some of the more common sources of acute pelvic pain, or pain that happens very suddenly, may include:
- Ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that happens outside the uterus).
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (also called PID, an infection of the reproductive organs).
- Twisted or ruptured ovarian cyst.
- Miscarriage or threatened miscarriage.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Ruptured fallopian tube.
Some of the conditions that can lead to chronic pelvic pain may include:
- Menstrual cramps.
- Uterine fibroids (abnormal growths on or in the uterine wall).
- Scar tissue between the internal organs in the pelvic cavity.
- Endometrial polyps.
- Cancers of the reproductive tract.
Other causes may be related to problems in the digestive, urinary, or nervous systems.
How Is Pelvic Pain Treated?
Specific treatment for pelvic pain will depend on the cause of the pain and will be discussed with you by Drs. Kimble and Kimble based on:
- Your overall health and medical history
- Extent of condition
- Cause of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
- Antibiotic medicines
- Anti-inflammatory and/or pain medicines
- Relaxation exercises
- Oral contraceptives
- Physical therapy
If a physical cause can’t be found, Drs. Kimble and Kimble may refer you for counseling to help you better cope with chronic pain. In other cases, they may recommend a multidisciplinary treatment using a number of different approaches, including nutritional modifications, environmental changes, physical therapy, and pain management.
Key points about pelvic pain:
- Pelvic pain is a common problem among women. Its nature and intensity may fluctuate, and its cause is often unclear.
- Pain can be acute or chronic.
- Specific treatment will depend on the cause as determined by the physical exam and tests.
- Treatment may include medicines, surgery, physical therapy and pain management techniques.
Vaginal and Pelvic Pain Treatment in Pasadena, CA
At Women’s Center for Pelvic Wellness, expert urogynecologists, Dr. Alexis May Kimble and Dr. David Kimble can help determine a treatment plan for your vaginal and pelvic pain. Call the office at (626) 535-0832 or book an appointment using the form below, to get on the path to feeling better today.