Ever feel a burning pain down south? It might be caused by vulvodynia, which might not be a familiar term because doctors didn’t recognize this as an actual condition until recently.

Here’s the scoop on the chronic pain syndrome:

What is it?
Vulvodynia is described as chronic pain in your vulva, including the labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening. There are two types of that women can suffer from: the first is generalized vulvodynia, which involves “pain that occurs in different parts of your vulva at different times” and the second is localized vulvodynia, which is “pain in one area of the vulva that is usually provoked by touch or pressure.”

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of these two types of vulvodynia can include aching, burning, itching, soreness, or a sense of rawness in your skin. If you don’t constantly feel discomfort, these symptoms are often triggered during activities such as exercise, intercourse, or even while inserting a tampon. While symptoms aren’t life-threatening, it can still have an impact on a woman’s normal activities, including intercourse.

What are the causes?
While it’s still uncertain the exact causes, some include nerve injuries, muscle spasms, hormonal changes, frequent antibiotic use, and hypersensitivity to yeast infections. There’s no evidence to support that STDs or STIs cause vulvodynia, but some of the leading causes may overlap with several genital infections.

Can it be treated?
There are several ways to ease the pain and discomfort. While there’s no cure, self-treatments include using dermatologically approved soaps and detergents, buying unscented toilet paper, wearing 100% white cotton underwear, avoiding tight-fitting pants, and rinsing the vulva with cool water after urination and intercourse.

If you’re experiencing vulva pain or symptoms that may seem like vulvodynia, you should contact your doctor immediately. Vulvodynia is treatable and women should work with their OB/GYN to identify treatments and a self-care procedure to ease any discomfort.

xx, The FabFitFun Team