How is it diagnosed?
To diagnose vulvodynia, a doctor will typically do physical exams and tests, according to The American College of Physicians and Gynecologists. A doctor examines the vulva and vagina carefully, and may take a sample of discharge from the vagina to test for signs of yeast and other infections.
A swab (QTip) test may also be performed. For this, a doctor will use a swab to touch different areas of the vulva to find the location of the pain and determine how intense it is. Depending on the doctor and the patient, other tests may be administered to determine the cause of the pain.
How is it treated?
Because there are a variety of reasons why a woman might be suffering from vulvodynia, there are also a variety of ways to treat it. Depending on what a doctor determines is the cause of the vulvar pain, an appropriate treatment will be prescribed. This can range from topical treatments, oral medications, pelvic floor muscle therapy, diet modification, or even surgery.
Sometimes, vulvar pain can be caused by an outside factor: such as the way a person stands or the chair they're using at work. Often times, when these issues are resolved, the pain goes away on its own.
Dr. Dena Harris stresses that this is a highly treatable condition that women should seek help for. There's no excuse for a life in pain, especially when a wide variety of treatments are available. "So many people get better," Dr. Harris says, "It would be a shame for them not to get help."