Unfortunately, 1 in 7 women will experience some type of chronic pelvic pain during her lifetime. This can be due to infections, internal growths like cysts or fibroids, changes in the vaginal tissue or flora, or for many it is an “unknown” reason.
Vulvodynia is the medical term for unexplained vulvar pain that has lasted at least 3 months. Vulvodynia typically causes burning pain that can be constant or intermittent. It often occurs externally on the lower half of the vulva. It also is more common in women 20-50 years old. Typically, women have gone to several doctors and had many tests with no answers, or have tried many treatments with no success. This is a common story among disorders that are multifaceted. While it is good to have ruled out the basics, naturopathic doctors are particularly well versed in digging deeper and correlating the various systems in the body that are being affected, even if they seem unrelated.
Avoiding known irritants can go a long way, however that is not a long-term sustainable approach to treatment. These irritants are tight-fitting clothing, perfumes, dyes, and biking. Getting a full pelvic exam and appropriate work up such as a vaginal culture, is a great starting point.
If there is no known cause for your vulvodynia diagnosis, we will look further at indirect causes. These may be nutritional imbalances, immune dysfunction, detoxification, and genetics. Some women have genetic alterations which can place more stress on the body. This may require increased supplemental support to help detoxification and healing.
That being said, when vulvar pain has been ongoing, the internal muscles become stressed. This leads to an imbalance in the muscles triggering a pelvic pain pattern internally as well. Working with a pelvic floor specialist can be vital. We will help address muscle imbalances to bring in circulation and flush out inflammatory cells. Pelvic floor work also reduces adhesions which leads to a decrease in reactive pain patterns, especially to sexual touch and/or penetration.
When women experience pain, especially in their pelvic bowl, there is often a disconnection that happens. Disconnection can be a mental safety mechanism often created for protection from unwanted or painful touch, or after a history of abuse. When a woman stops breathing fully into her pelvis, she loses a vital connection. Holistic Pelvic Care ™ helps address this disconnection by breath work, guided imagery, and myo-fascial work. We will gently support you and help you stay grounded and connected in a safe environment so that you can release armor that may no longer be serving you.
When physical therapy alone is not enough to address vulvodynia, we offer two devices for further support. ThermiVA is a radio-frequency heat device. MonaLisa Touch is a CO2 laser device. Both options sequester cellular changes, shifting the collagen formation, and recruiting healing from within. You can read more about them individually on our website here and here.
You do not have to suffer any longer. Dr. Meghan Bennett and Dr. Lisa Dickinson offer a holistic assessment and patient centered treatment approach to vulvodynia and pelvic floor pain. There are so many possibilities for you. We will guide you in your treatment plan so that you feel confident in creating a positive and healthy sex life for years to come.