Vulvar vestibulitis is a frequent inflammation in menopause that can become chronic. The pain and burning it causes can be so intense that everyday life and intimate relationships are difficult. Here’s everything you need to know.
This article was written in collaboration with our medical staff
What is vulvar vestibulitis
The vulvar vestibulitis is l ‘ inflammation of the mucous membrane of the vaginal vestibule , ie places tissues at the entrance of the vagina .
The genital area, when it is inflamed, can cause severe burning and postpone the sensation of having many painful “cuts” in the area of the vaginal opening, around the labia minora.
For this reason vulvar vestibulitis, frequent in menopausal women , can cause very painful intimate relationships . But also of problems such as to impact on the quality of life of the woman and on her autonomy in daily life.
What not everyone knows is that vulvar vestibulitis can become chronic.
In fact, we are not talking about a transient inflammation like many others because this pathology also involves the nervous area of the vulvar area. This means that the neuro-inflammatory process feeds itself on the nerves themselves, which independently produce substances that promote inflammation.
For this reason , early diagnosis is essential: if neglected or poorly treated (or, worse, undiagnosed), vulvar vestibulitis can trigger a vicious cycle that is difficult to break.
What are the causes of vulvar vestibulitis: risk factors
Identifying a single cause in the appearance of vulvar vestibulitis is rather difficult because it is mostly a system of contributing causes that determine inflammation.
More strictly speaking, we are talking about risk factors , from which, however, it is not easy to establish a direct link with the pathology.
The risk factors (and possible causes) are:
- Hormonal alterations, which modify the vaginal environment and its pH (physiological condition in menopause).
- Thinning of the vaginal walls (this is also a physiological consequence of menopause).
- Intimate dryness due to poor vaginal hydration and lubrication (a typical condition of menopause due to estrogen deficiency ).
- Chronic stress and fatigue , which can cause a lowering of the immune defenses (also due to long antibiotic therapies).
- Inflammations from repeated germs over time, such as Candida or Escherichia Coli
- Injuries and microtrauma in the vaginal mucosa caused by painful intimate intercourse ( dyspareunia )
What are the symptoms of vulvar vestibulitis?
As we have said, vulvar vestibulitis causes:
- Burning : it is widespread throughout the genital area because the sensation that the inflammation transmits is that of having many small wounds on the tissues all around the entrance to the vagina.
- Pain : the burning and itching can be so intense as to be felt as real pain, which can become unbearable during intimate intercourse, due to the mechanical rubbing on the already inflamed vaginal walls.
This symptom of vulvar vestibulitis is the one that most of all also causes discomfort, embarrassment and guilt because pain during intimate intercourse has a negative impact on the serenity of the couple. In a period, such as that of menopause, which is already difficult for intercourse with the opposite sex due to ailments and annoyances typical of this phase of a woman’s life: we are talking about decreased desire , vaginal dryness and intimate discomfort, Which can lead to another condition, the ‘ Atrophy Vaginal vulva .
- Redness : the burning that affects the entire genital area often results in redness, especially on the mucous membrane at the entrance to the vagina (but it can reach further inside). The resulting sensation is that of numbness, swelling , with consequent difficulty in bearing even underwear .
- Need to urinate often : In some women, inflammation due to vulvar vestibulitis has a frequent need to urinate as a corollary. A particularly annoying symptom in daily activities and often also “deceptive” because the inflammation we are talking about is often mistaken for cystitis .
For these reasons, but not only, if you recognize only one of these symptoms it is important to book a visit to the gynecologist immediately (link gyne-finder). Only the specialist can make a correct diagnosis and prescribe an effective and personalized therapy. Prompt diagnosis is essential because vulvar vestibulitis is an inflammation that can become chronic .
Vulvar vestibulitis: how is it diagnosed? How does the visit take place?
As we said above, several causes of this inflammation are frequent situations in menopause, so it is difficult to recognize vulvar vestibulitis. In any case, however much you want to document, you are never able to recognize this inflammation: only the gynecologist can formulate the correct diagnosis and prescribe the right therapy , tailored for you.
In the case of an infection like this, for which there is a serious risk of becoming chronic, early diagnosis is essential. Vulvar vestibulitis, if caught early, can be successfully treated. Therapy is on several levels:
- the first step is to break the vicious circle of neuro-inflammation by reducing the hyperactivity of the nerves
- at the same time it is necessary to reduce the pain and calm the burning (with analgesics but also products to be applied locally)
- if it is incorrect, it is necessary to change your lifestyle (no to the use of aggressive detergents or to underwear and clothing that is too tight , and in synthetic fabrics ; yes to careful and delicate intimate hygiene and comfortable briefs and pants and in natural fibers such as cotton ).
The visit to the gynecologist will be no different from those you are used to: a visual examination and, at most, a transvaginal ultrasound, will be enough to diagnose vulvar vestibulitis .
So, the first and only thing you have to do, without delay and hesitation, is to make an appointment with the gynecologist (if you don’t have one, here you will find a list of experienced menopause specialists ).