Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Pain, Women's Health.

Vulvodynia, a different type of pain

 

I was attending a workshop last weekend to deepen my knowledge on treating (women’s) pelvic and sexual pain with acupuncture. An astonishing 15% of women will be affected by vulvodynia (pain the vulva area) in their life time as well as 27% of women report pain during intercourse! The effect of pelvic pain and sexual pain can be far ranging, from relationship issues to anxiety, losing days at work and simply the loss of quality of life.

Pain in the vulva area, around the perineum and/or during sex might due to numerous conditions. From trauma (eg after giving birth or surgery) to infections, hormones imbalances etc…, the reasons are varied and need to be addressed in a different way.

But often women are embarrassed about where the pain is as well as what sort discomfort it brings which delays asking for support and going to see their GP. Getting a diagnosis can also take a long time.

 

What can you do to help ease the pain?

The approach will be multi-modal to address the constellation of symptoms. This can include

  • Gentle self-care of the vulva area
  • Medication
  • Manual therapy such as (especially tailored) physiotherapy or acupuncture
  • Sexual counselling
  • Surgery

 

What can you do at home?

Because the symptoms can be varied, it’s important to remember that not all ‘advice’ will be working for you. Things you can try to help alleviate your symptoms are

  • Avoiding rubbing the sensitive area and only ‘patting the area dry’
  • Wearing cotton underwear
  • Avoiding irritants, including scented products (pads, toilet paper, soap etc..), soaps and bubble baths, some type of condom (latex, lubricated condoms…), some lubricants
  • Using heat onto the area
  • Or putting a cool compress onto the area (a moistened chamomile tea bag can be great)
  • Having a nice bath with Epson Salt or oatmeal
  • Use relaxation techniques (such as mindfulness, yoga or Tai Chi)
  • Stop smoking

 

How can acupuncture help with pelvic and sexual pain?

First of all, I want you to know that I know this pain is real. It affects your everyday life because the slightest touch can trigger the pain. It hurts when you have sex, it hurts when you sit down or when you exercise. The pain is real, it’s chronic and often leads to feelings of anxiety as well as frustration.

In Chinese Medicine, pain is a symptom of the Energy not flowing properly. Acupuncture helps to free the flow of Energy and Blood as well as addressing the underlying imbalances disrupting your body’s self-healing abilities.

It can also help reduce the anxiety and stress felt by most sufferers (with very good reasons!).

Some studies have shown that acupuncture helps lessen the pelvic and sexual pain [1][2]. Usually, with such complex issues, I always approach the problem from different angles, using body acupuncture but also adding ear acupuncture and ear seeds, diet advice and relaxation techniques. This means that we can work both of the symptoms and on the root of the issue. It also means you will have some ‘homework’ (self care) to do at home to help bridge the gap in between two treatments and get the best results possible.

 

Over to you, are you struggling with pelvic or sexual pain? 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you dealing pain like this. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

[1] Lee E Hullender Rubin et al., Acupuncture Augmentation Of Lidocaine Treatment For Provoked Localized Vulvodynia – A Feasibility And Acceptability Pilot Study, Journal of Lower Genital Tract Diseases. 2017; 21(4S):S2-S3.
[2] Schlaeger JM et al., Acupuncture for the treatment of vulvodynia: A randomized wait‐list controlled pilot study., J Sex Med 2015;12:1019–1027.

 

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