July 12, 2016

The Burden of Unexplained “Female Pain”

Frustrated young woman touching her nose and keeping eyes closed while standing in office and near her working placeThis newsletter discusses a subject that is difficult for many women and health care professionals to talk about openly, yet in a recent study in a U.S. urban area was reported by almost 7% of women aged 18-64 years. Women should not suffer needlessly.  It’s a problem we can help with customized medications.

The problem is vulvodynia, defined as chronic pain in the area around the opening of the vagina (vulva) for which there is no identifiable cause. Vulvodynia can occur in women of any age. The burning or sharp knife-like pain, tingling or itching, or pain on contact can lasts for 3 months or longer, and can be debilitating. Pain or discomfort is typically only on one side and may be most pronounced while sitting, and least prominent when lying down.

The study revealed that only 3% of women meeting vulvodynia criteria were actually diagnosed with vulvodynia. Most women remain undiagnosed following multiple physician visits. Physicians such as dermatologists, urologists, and gynecologists are largely unfamiliar with chronic vulvar pain not attributable to a specific disorder such as herpes genitalis, lichen planus, cancer (e.g. squamous cell carcinoma), or neurological disease (e.g. postherpetic neuralgia).

Often, even with thorough testing, no obvious cause can be identified, and ongoing chronic vulvar pain becomes a true mental and physical burden for affected women.

In a substantial proportion of women, pain can be relieved with appropriate doses of prescription medications including tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, pregabalin, and compounded topical gabapentin cream.

Contact our compounding pharmacist to confidentially discuss this or other problems. Our compounding pharmacists work together with physicians and their patients to customize medications based on each patient’s unique needs. We welcome your questions.

Reference: J Pain Res. 2015; 8: 845-849.

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