The vulva is the external part of a female's genitals. Several different types of infections can cause vulva pain, tenderness, itching, burning, throbbing, an urgency to urinate and painful urination.
More than two dozen diseases can cause problems to the vulva including the following:
- Herpes- a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause pain, itching and sores in the genital area of males and females.
- Yeast infections- an infection that occurs when too many cells of yeast, which is a fungus, grow in the vagina.
- Endometriosis- a condition that often causes painful menstrual periods. The disorder occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of a woman's uterus, the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. As a result, the endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would; it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this tissue that's grown in the wrong place has no way to exit the body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, growths may form.
- Bacterial Vaginosis- an infection caused when too much of certain bacteria change the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44.
- Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that can cause discharge, itching and pain.
Some signs and symptoms may include:
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain that comes and goes
- Pain during sex
To diagnose vulvar disorders and diseases, a doctor will take a complete medical history to find out about symptoms and how long they have been happening.
Other tests may include:
- Physical exam
- Pelvic exam
- Imaging studies to look for structural abnormalities
- Blood tests
- Tissue and fluid cultures
Treatment for a patient with a vulva abnormality depends on the cause.
Treatment options may include:
- Antibiotics to fight infections and parasites.
- Topical creams to stop painful itching and ease irritation,
- Anti-fungal medications.
- Special exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles.
- Surgery if the vulvar disorder was caused by structural abnormalities that did not respond to other treatment options.