Vaginal pain is unfortunately quite common among women of all races and ages. While there is sometimes a cause of a sharp pain in the vagina, it is sometimes hard to tell if a medical condition could be at fault. Finding out a cause of the pain can be extremely difficult, so many women are left confused as their doctor struggles to find a diagnosis.
When you experience vaginal pain, it can be debilitating for the rest of your life. You may feel pain when you exercise, have sex or carry on with your normal life. Because of this, it is quite common for women to experience a drop in their sexual desire or their ability to work out. In studies by the National Institutes of Health, it was shown that many women with sharp vaginal pain felt like they no longer controlled their lives as they were unable to do the things they loved or have sexual intercourse. Women who experience sharp pain in the vagina should immediately talk to their doctor to figure out if a medical condition could be at fault.
The Different Kinds of Sharp Pain in Vagina
When someone experiences sharp vaginal pain, it may be located in the vulva, vaginal opening, labia or clitoris. In general, there are two types of vaginal pain:
Generalized Pain: This can be felt in different areas of the vulva at different times. It may be triggered by touching, or touching the spot may just increase the pain. Pain may be constant, or it may come and go at different intervals.
Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome: This type of pain is generally localized in the vaginal opening. It will often feel like a cutting or burning sensation. Often, this type of pain will worsen during sexual intercourse or when the spot is touched. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of women who seek gynecological are reported to have this syndrome.
The Reasons Why Sharp Pain in the Vagina Happens
For the majority of patients, there is no direct cause of vaginal pain. An estimated 50 to 85 [percent of patients may have vaginal pain because of an underlying medical condition that is not directly connected to the reproductive system or the vagina. In some cases, pain may be caused by problems involving the person’s sexual identity or depression. Other causes include:
– Genetic factors involving the way the vulva reacts to inflammation.
– Aggressive sex or sexual abuse. In some cases, the psychological aftermath of sexual abuse can also cause sharp vaginal pain.
– Hormonal changes due to medication, menopause or a medical condition.
– A nerve injury due to a trauma or infection. If it is bad enough, this can cause pain that remains even after the cause of the pain has gone away.
– Genital surgery or labiectomy.
– Muscle spasms can sometimes cause a sharp pain in the genital region.
– Trauma and infections can cause the vulvar cells to react abnormally and cause sharp pain.
– Yeast infections can cause sharp, and sometimes sporadic, pain. Overusing antibiotics or using them too frequently can increase the frequency of yeast infections.
– Cancer and growths like polyps or cysts can cause vaginal pain.
Symptoms of Sharp Pain in Vagina,
While every woman, condition and experience is different, there are a few symptoms that tend to accompany a sharp pain in the vagina. Women may experience:
– Burning sensations
– Irritations on the surface of the skin
– Stinging sensations
– Painful intercourse
– Cutting, sharp pain in the vulvar region.
Some of these symptoms could be constant, or they may occur at varying times. They may become worse with physical contact like touching, sexual intercourse or using a tampon. Depending on the cause, the symptoms could last from several months to several years. Pain could occur in one spot or spread across the entire vulva. Likewise, activities like horseback riding, sitting or biking could make the pain worse or cause it to restart.
Treating Vaginal Pain
Unfortunately, there is no standard treatment for treating sharp vaginal pain. Doctors will prescribe a treatment based on the cause and symptoms. Depending on the cause and the treatment, women may get some relief or complete relief.
The kind of treatment used depends entirely on the intensity of the symptoms, the cause of the pain and the patient’s unique medical history. One patient may be given multiple treatments over several months in order to find the one that works the best. For many women, the type of treatment used will be determined by the cost.
In general, women start by talking with their gynecologist about the options that are available to them. When you visit the gynecologist, make sure you share all of your symptoms so that you get an accurate diagnosis and your doctor can narrow down the source of your problem. Before you visit your doctor, make sure to:
- Write down the types of symptoms you experience, when they occur, how long they last and their severity.
- Ask your doctor’s office if there are anything you should do before the appointment to prepare. In the case of lab tests, you may have to follow strict requirements such as not eating for a period of hours beforehand.
- Make sure to write down all of the vitamins, herbal supplements and medications that you are currently taking and that you have taken in the past.
What Treatment Options Are Available for Sharp Vaginal Pain?
Physical Therapy, Biofeedback and Relaxation Therapy: Sharp pains can be caused by the muscles becoming too tense and contracting. Physical therapy and biofeedback therapy work to reteach your body how to respond and relax. Biofeedback therapy involves putting a vaginal sensor in the vagina to measure the muscle strength and help you learn how to contract or relax your muscles. This treatment can help lower the pain that you experience.
Injection: An injection can be used to numb the pudendal nerve so that you do not feel the pain. If the symptoms are severe, the nerve may even be ablated.
Medications: Your doctor may prescribe an anticonvulsant or an antidepressant to treat or limit chronic pain. If you have itching, they may also give you an antihistamine.
Surgery: A surgery may be done to remove the affected tissue at the source of the pain.
Local Anesthetics: Ointments like lidocaine can help give you temporary relief from vaginal pain. If you plan on having sexual intercourse, the ointment should be applied 30 minutes beforehand. Cotton rounds can be used to apply it on the opening of the vagina. Keep in mind that your partner may end up feeling numbness after intercourse as the medicine rubs onto them.
Pelvic Floor Therapy: Pelvic floor therapy is designed to help you strengthen the muscles on the pelvic floor and can help alleviate some of the pain.
At-Home Treatment Options
If you are just experiencing temporary vaginal pain, you can use the following tips to get some relief.
– Avoid hot baths. Stick to taking cool or lukewarm baths for about 10 minutes at a time, two or three times a day.
– Switch to soft, unscented toilet paper.
– Use petroleum jelly after a bath to make a protective barrier.
– Wear cotton pads, panties and tampons to prevent the skin from becoming irritated.
– Do not use soap, shampoo or synthetic substances that may irritate the vulva.
– Do not wear panty hose.
– Avoid activities like horseback riding or biking that can add pressure to the vulva.
– Skip foods like chocolate, berries, beans and nuts that can cause uncomfortable urination.
– Apply a lubricant before engaging in sexual intercourse.