Why Does My Vagina Feel Uncomfortable?

woman lying on bed

Pain and discomfort down there is not something to ignore. Especially if it’s recurrent or doesn’t go away.

Vaginal and vulva pain can be temporary or chronic, and have many different causes. It may be caused by a serious issue, or it could be completely normal. Here are some of the most common reasons why your vulva hurts: 1.) Injuries.

Tight Clothes

A common problem that many women experience is vaginal pain. This can be a side effect of tight clothing, but it also is a symptom of more serious health conditions, such as an infection or uterine fibroids.

Tight clothing, especially if made from synthetic material, decreases airflow to the genital area. This increases the temperature and moisture, creating a perfect breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. This can lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. It can even cause a urinary tract infection, or UTI, which typically is accompanied by pain, itching, or burning in the lower abdomen and anus.

In addition, tight pants or dresses can cause a type of nerve compression called meralgia paresthetica, which causes numbness and tingling in the front and outer thigh. This is usually a temporary condition, but can become a chronic issue if it is not addressed with medication.

While it is important to look good in clothes, style should never come at a price to your health. If you are experiencing vaginal itching or burning, contact your primary care provider to discuss the symptoms. They will be able to recommend the best treatment options for your comfort. You can schedule an appointment with one of our providers online at Avant Gynecology. We look forward to serving you! Jodie Oakes is a seasoned writer and content creator with continuously itchy feet.

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Allergies

If the pain you’re feeling in your vulva is accompanied by other symptoms such as a change in color or smell, excessive discharge, a fever or bleeding it’s best to seek medical attention. A healthcare provider can conduct tests to find out what’s triggering your immune system and prescribe you medications that will provide relief.

Certain bacteria infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes can cause a sore vagina. Yeast infections, which are also common, can lead to itching and pain and may be accompanied by a cottage cheese-like discharge. Urinary tract infections are another common cause of vaginal pain and discomfort. If you’re post-menopausal, the natural lubrication of your vulva can decrease and this can also lead to a painful vulva.

A sensitivity or allergy to chemicals and ingredients can trigger itching and inflammation of the vulva. This can be triggered by soap, fabric softener, menstrual pads, feminine hygiene products and latex condoms. It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider if you think you may be allergic to a specific product as this could lead to serious complications.

There are some at-home tests available that can detect allergies, but these can be inconclusive and it’s best to see a physician for a complete evaluation. They can perform diagnostic imaging such as a transvaginal ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) to identify more serious problems such as endometriosis and cysts.

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STIs

The term STI can mean different things to people, but for the purposes of this article, it’s just a shorthand way of talking about sexually transmitted infections (or STDs). These are caused by germs that you pick up from unprotected sex, and they may cause pain when you have sex, as well as bumps or sores in your genital area, a bad smell from your vulva, vaginal discharge that is different than usual, and a lot of itching. Yeast infections, which are caused by a fungus, can also make your vulva feel uncomfortable, but the main symptom is itching rather than pain.

It’s worth getting checked out by your OBYGN if you have pain in your vulva or pelvic area that isn’t related to your period, and it might be an indication that you have one of the STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, or genital warts. They’re easy to get, but the best way to avoid them is by using condoms when you have sex.

Other things that can cause pelvic pain include a urinary tract infection (UTI), nerve damage to the vulva, or a condition called vulvodynia, where the muscles that form your vulva tighten involuntarily and hurt when they’re touched. Physiotherapy can help with vulvodynia, and some techniques involve squeezing and releasing the muscles in your pelvic floor.

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Trauma

Whether it’s from trauma or injury, pain in the vulva (the skin and labia that form the outer genitalia) can be extremely distressing and isolating. It can affect sex drive and cause long-term pain and discomfort in the area – called vulvodynia. This can impact relationships and lead to low mood, anxiety and depression. Having persistent vulvodynia can also have serious health consequences such as interstitial cystitis, painful periods and IBS.

Trauma can cause your pelvic floor to reflexively tighten in response to protect you from potential injury, but this can have a huge impact on day-to-day life and can ultimately make sexual intimacy feel uncomfortable or impossible. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychosexual counselling can be helpful in learning to relax your pelvic muscles, address fears around intimacy and restore a physical relationship with yourself.

Hutcherson also identifies both emotional and psychological trauma as possible root causes for vaginismus, which is when the muscles in your penis spasm, causing you to have difficulty penetrating during sex. She notes that this can be brought on by insufficient foreplay or lubricant, an unhealthy relationship or a previous sexual assault or trauma. Practicing self-pleasure and talking with your partner(s) to establish clear boundaries can be great starting points. In addition, working with a pelvic floor physical therapist can help to regulate the nervous system and teach your brain that what’s in or near your vulva doesn’t need to be a threat.

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