If you’re experiencing pain in the vestibule of your vagina – the region inside the inner lips of the vulva, near the urethra and vaginal opening – you may be suffering from a condition known as vestibulodynia and vulvodynia, previously known as vulval vestibulitis. There is usually no obvious physical cause of the pain, and the condition wasn’t even recognised until the 1980s. Although medical treatments are often provided, the pain caused by the condition may lead to issues with sex avoidance, or even contribute to issues like vaginismus, so in many cases attending vestibulodynia counselling in Luton and Dunstable is a recommended approach.
Vestibulodynia Symptoms and Causes
The core symptom of vestibulodynia is severe pain or discomfort at the opening of the vagina, and it can be triggered by any pressure on the area, from physical touching through to as little as friction from clothing. The degree of pain experienced is very variable, with some women being able to tolerate penetrative sex – despite experiencing pain – whereas others will experience tenderness and pain from even light contact. The outdated term vestibulitis was originally used because the condition was assumed to be related to inflammation of the vestibule, but now it’s known that vestibulodynia is actually caused by either excessive sensitivity or overgrowth of nerve fibres in the region.
Psychological Consequences of Vestibulodynia
Vestibulodynia counselling is often recommended because the condition can have several psychological impacts. The issues usually stem from the pain experienced during sex, and the anticipation of pain when you have sex in future. The fear and anticipation of the pain can lead to the tightening of the pelvic floor muscles during sex, which in turn causes more pain and may lead to the avoidance of sex altogether, as well as difficulty becoming aroused or achieving orgasm. As a result, the condition can ultimately have many negative effects on your relationship.
Vestibulodynia Counselling and Treatment
Medical treatments for vestibulodynia can vary, but include anaesthetic creams, pelvic floor physiotherapy and vaginal dilators. In some severe cases, surgery may be required to rectify the issue. Despite the variety of medical treatments available, vestibulodynia counselling is often recommended, and this usually comes in the form of psychosexual counselling. This primarily addresses the psychological consequences of the condition, in particular looking at the underlying concerns that may be contributing to the pain during sex. By addressing the underlying issue, psychosexual counselling aims to help with the resulting pain.
“Talk” therapy is only part of psychosexual counselling for vestibulodynia, though, with “sensate focus” therapy being another common exercise used, which you can attempt at home with your partner. Sensate focus involves setting aside time on a regular basis to explore each other’s bodies, but there is a “ban” on sex during the early parts of the therapy. Instead, partners explore each other’s bodies, first non-sexual areas, so the woman can experience “safe” touching without the need to tense up in anticipation of pain. Over time, sexual areas are included in the touching, and after more time – often several weeks, but you can work at your own pace – you build back up to penetrative sex. Psychosexual therapy may also be combined with physiotherapy or the use of vaginal dilators.
Attending vestibulodynia counselling in Luton and Dunstable alongside other medical treatment will help you address the psychological elements of the condition and help you regain a normal, healthy sex life, free from apprehension, tension or fear. If you’d like more information about psychosexual counselling, vestibulodynia or any other related issue, get in touch with us today for an informal chat!
For more information about our costs for vestibulitis (vestibulodynia) counselling services please see the about us page.