Vaginal pain is a common discomfort and generally it does not indicate any serious condition, since most of the times it is just a consequence of using very tight clothes or an allergy to a condom or soap. However, when vaginal pain is frequent, does not improve with time or comes with other symptoms, it can also be a sign of more serious health problems, such as STD's or cysts.
Therefore, if you have pain or a burning sensation when urinating, skin redness in the area, swelling, wounds, lumps, or bleeding, it’s important to visit a gynecologist so that a diagnosis can be done and adequate treatment started.
The main causes for vaginal pain are:
1. Wearing tight clothes
Wearing tight clothes is usually the main cause of vaginal pain. This is because clothes that are too tight and made of synthetic materials stop the airflow to the genital area, increasing the temperature and the humidity, which encourages the proliferation of fungi and bacteria.
What to do: you will need to visit a gynecologist or urologist who will identify the cause and establish the best treatment. It is advised that you wear looser clothes that are made of breathable fabrics, and wear cotton panties. Sleeping without panties is also beneficial as it allows for more airflow in the genital area.
Vaginal pain during pregnancy is common and does not present a risk to the mother or the baby. It is most common in the third trimester which is when the baby’s weight starts putting pressure on the mother’s organs, especially the uterus, which causes pain.
What to do: as this is normal, you do not need to undergo treatment. However, if the pain persists and comes with other symptoms, it’s important to visit your obstetrician so that she can examine you.
3. Allergic reactions
Some women have increased sensitivity to some products, such as soap, fabric softener, pantyliner, toilet paper, or some types of condom. The usual symptoms of allergic reactions are swelling, redness, itchiness, pain, or burning in the vagina.
What to do: it’s important to identify the cause of the allergy and avoid using that product. In addition, the gynecologist may prescribe medication, for example, anti-inflammatory medication to use on the region that is sensitive.
4. Urinary tract infections
Women usually have a tendency to have more than one urinary infection in their lifetime. This is because the female urethra is short and the vagina and the anus are close together, which favors the migration and proliferation of fungi and bacteria. Urinary infections generally happen when the genital area is not cleaned properly or due to tight clothes, which don’t allow for much air-flow.
When you have a urinary infection you usually feel like you need to urinate but not much urine comes out, and you may feel pain, burning, or itchiness in the vagina.
What to do: if you notice the first symptoms of a urinary infection, visit your urologist or gynecologist, so they can identify the agent that is causing the infection and start treatment. In addition, it is important that you clean the genital region well. Treatment is generally done with antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or ciprofloxacin.
5. Sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are diseases caused by microorganisms, and they can happen due to unprotected sexual intercourse or when there is more than one partner during the same time period. STDs manifest through redness, small wounds, lumps or warts in the genital region, burning sensation when urinating, vaginal discharge, and pain.
What to do: If you have symptoms that indicate STDs, go to gynecologist so that he can make a diagnosis by assessing your symptoms and examining your genital organs, and is then able to start you on the most suitable treatment. Usually, treatment is done through antibiotics, antifungal medication, or antivirals and depends on the microorganisms that cause the illness.
Even though some STDs are curable with treatment, it’s important to use a condom during sexual intercourse and avoid intercourse with more than one partner.
Some cysts can change the anatomy of the vagina and lead to pain. This happens with ovarian cysts, which are pockets full of liquid that form inside or around the ovary. In addition to ovarian cysts, some vaginal cysts can also cause pain, such as Bartholin’s cyst and Skene duct cyst, which are cysts formed in glands that are located in the vagina.
What to do: If you notice bleeding outside the menstrual period, pain during sexual intercourse, difficulty getting pregnant, late periods or vaginal pain, visit a gynecologist as these symptoms may signal the presence of cysts.
The treatment prescribed by the doctor will differ depending on the size of the cyst, and he may prescribe something simple like taking the pill or something more complicated like a surgical procedure to remove the cyst, or even the uterus.
7. Vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness happens due to a decrease in the production of estrogen, which is a female hormone and this decrease is more common in menopause. When the production of mucous decreases, you may feel vaginal pain, generally during sexual intercourse.
What to do: To decrease the discomfort caused by a dry vagina, you can use lubricants to ease sexual intercourse, use vaginal moisturizers, or even undergo hormone therapy under doctor supervision.
Vaginal pain and extreme difficulty penetrating can be caused by vaginismus, which is a rare disease, and not very well known and which can be caused by physical factors, due to genital diseases or psychological diseases, which can involve sexual abuse, traumatic labor, or surgical procedures.
What to do: In order to find out if you have vaginismus it’s best to go to a gynecologist and seek guidance because there is treatment, which can be done with medication, and therapy which can help improve sexual intercourse.