“Why am I experiencing pain?” For vulva-owners, that can sometimes be a difficult question to answer as pelvic pain is a symptom of many different disorders related to female organs. When the causes you are not clear, health care providers may attempt to pin-point through a process of elimination using tests like pelvic exams, ultrasounds, imaging scans, biopsies, etc. Here’s a quick snapshot of five different conditions that may result in pelvic pain:
What is adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis occurs when the tissues lining the inside of the uterus grow into the outer muscular wall of the uterus. The added tissues can enlarge the uterus, resulting in abnormal bleeding and heavier, painful periods. This condition is more common among vulva-owners who have had children and usually resolves after menopause.
What is dyspareunia?
Dyspareunia is when pain is experienced during sexual intercourse. Many vulva-owners are led to believe that pain with sex is normal, but it is not. It is a medical condition that can be treated. Ten common causes of dyspareunia include: low estrogen/GSM, hormonal contraception, vaginal infections, pelvic floor muscle spasms, vestibulodynia, scar tissue, vulvar skin conditions, endometriosis, bladder pain, and mechanical or technique issues.
What is painful bladder syndrome?
Painful bladder syndrome (PBS), sometimes referred to as interstitial cystitis, is a chronic condition where there is frequency, pain, and even blood in urine. With this condition, the pelvic nerve signals that create the urge to urinate are impaired causing a more frequent need to urinate with smaller volumes of urine. PBS is diagnosed when urinary tract infections and bladder cancer have been ruled out.
What is vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is a nerve pain condition of the vulva. The pain can be anywhere on the vulva including the vestibule (entrance of the vagina), clitoris or superficial tissues. The nerve pain associated with this condition is often described as a “burning” sensation. When the pain is not noticeable until the area is touched, the condition is called “provoked vulvodynia.” If the pain is constant or comes and goes with no connection to touch, the condition is called “spontaneous vulvodynia.”
What is genitourinary syndrome of menopause?
Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) is the thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls that may occur due to reduced estrogen levels after menopause. Estrogen increases blood flow to tissues in the vulva and bladder, which help maintain strength and elasticity. As levels drop, the tissues can become more fragile, thinner, dryer and lose the ability to stretch. While the vagina and vestibule are rich with estrogen receptors, there are also estrogen receptors in the clitoris, labia, urethra and bladder. As such, this condition includes vaginal atrophy as well as accompanying urinary symptoms.
Although some of these conditions do not have cures, there are many therapies available to ease pelvic pain related to them. The Femme Flexor is one such instrument that can help restore the strength and health of pelvic floor muscles within the vagina that have been impacted due to pelvic pain disorders. Talk to you health care practitioner about your specific pelvic pain and whether the Femme Flexor is an appropriate tool for your rehabilitation needs!
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/
Gunter, Dr. Jen. “The Vagina Bible: The vulva and the vagina - separating the myth from the medicine.” Toronto. Random House Canada Limited, 2019.