Genital pain not uncommon among women: survey

Sep 23, 2011, 8:20 a.m.

But Reed said that doesn't mean that some women can't find relief with those treatments.

Finding a treatment that works can sometimes be a process of trial-and-error, according to Reed. And some women just spontaneously get better with time.

For women who want some type of treatment, but do not want to go the medication route, there are other options, Reed said.

Physical therapy for the pelvic floor muscles may help some women, as may biofeedback to learn how to control the vaginal muscles, and cognitive behavioral therapy to learn better ways to deal with symptoms.

Some women also find that cutting down on foods that contain compounds called oxalates -- including greens, chocolate, beans and nuts -- can make their urine less irritating and help ease vulvodynia pain.

When non-drug therapies and medications fail, surgery -- called vestibulectomy -- to remove the painful tissue is an option.

But Reed said there has been a move away from that. "Especially since for many women, vulvodynia eventually goes away," she noted, "surgery may be an extreme measure."

Last year, the British Society for the Study of Vulval Disease issued guidelines stressing the need for a combination of therapies in managing vulvodynia. It said that an individual woman's pain should be carefully assessed, and she should be offered a range of treatment options depending on her personal situation -- including pain medication, physical therapy, psychological therapy and, "if all else fails," surgery.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/mZU5dT American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, online August 22, 2011.

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