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SEX DOCTOR: ISSUE OF THE WEEK WHAT IS VESTIBULITIS?

Byline: Dr Catherine Hood

PAIN anywhere in the body is debilitating, but when the genital area is sore it's embarrassing and can ruin your sex life. Many women suffer with soreness and may not know they have a condition called vulval vestibulitis.

WHAT IS IT?

VESTIBULITIS is one of the vulval pain syndromes. It's characterised by painful skin around the opening to the vagina.

Pressure, from clothes or exercise, causes discomfort. The degree varies from woman to woman - from burning irritation to severe raw pain. The discomfort can cause a lot of anxiety and women with the condition often feel low and, not surprisingly, go off sex.

HOW DO I KNOW I'VE GOT IT?

YOUR doctor can examine you and see if the skin around the vagina is red. Touching this will cause you pain.

WHAT IS THE CAUSE?

THE exact cause is unknown and research continues into the condition. It has been associated with chronic yeast infections and the use of chemical irritants such as soaps, spermicides and lubricants.

What we do know is that it's not related to cancer and you can't pass it on to your partner.

TREATMENT

IT'S advisable to stop using soaps for washing, and use a simple moisturiser like aqueous cream which you can get from the chemist.

Steroid creams can help to reduce inflammation but shouldn't be overused as they can thin the skin. But often the pain leads sufferers to avoid intercourse and powerful muscular contractions in the vagina can even make sex impossible.

Vaginal dilators can help the muscles to relax and gently stretch the skin.

For more information visit the Vulval Pain Society website www.vulvalpainsociety.org
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 4, 2007
Words:277
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