You may have read our recent blog post on “vulvodynia”, a common condition thought to affect up to 1 in 4 women through their lifetime.
Here we share some helpful tips on vulval care – many of these tips are useful for all women to apply in daily life, but they are especially important for those experiencing pain or sensitivity.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of vulvar pain, it is important to see your medical practitioner and ensure other causes, such as infection, are ruled out.
Women with vulvodynia should avoid potential irritants:
– Soap and shower gels: only wash the vulva with water. Ensure you wash your body with a soap-free product such as QV, Cetaphil or Dermaveen.
– Perfumes: water is enough to clean the vulva, do not douche, use sprays or powders on the vulva, avoid using scented products. (e.g. toilet paper, pads/liners, body washes, hygiene wipes). Take care when applying perfume to other areas of the body (ensure the vulva is covered).
– Fabric softeners and washing powders: switch these products to low-irritant versions for sensitive skin types.
– Pads and liners: vulvodynia can make women more aware of normal vaginal discharge which means some women may start wearing pads or panty liners. These can cause further skin irritation so are best avoided. If you think you have an increase or change in your vaginal discharge, it is important to see your GP for further assessment.
– Lubricants: switch to natural lubricant such as Olive&Bee intimate cream or, olive/coconut oil. You can also consider a lubricant that is water based and glycerin, paraben, scent free.
– Underwear made of synthetic fabric: It is important to wear a breathable fabric such as cotton to avoid excessive sweat or moisture in the region (loose fitting types can improve comfort too).
More vulvodynia tips:
It is also important to avoid drying out the skin which can happen with long showers and baths. If the skin is very dry and a moisturiser is required, use simple low-irritant products in the surrounding area. Do not apply directly to the mucosal surfaces/the area immediately surrounding the vaginal opening.
If there is an area of fragile or broken skin, this should always be reviewed be your medical caregiver. While it is healing you may consider using a simple water-resistant barrier ointment (such as Dermeze ointment) for protection. This can be applied if wearing pads, if the area is damp from increased discharge or incontinence, or before swimming. This should always be discussed with your medical caregiver.
Have been diagnosed or suspect you have vulvodynia?
Then get in touch with one of our experienced Women’s Health Physiotherapist’s
who can provide advice and guide you through assessment and treatment options.
Book online or call us on 1300 189 289.
Kate Goode, myPhysioSA for her Women’s Physiotherapist at North Adelaide in O&G.