Understanding Vulvar Stabbing Pain: Causes and Next Steps
Do you often times experience sudden stabbing pain in the pelvic area? Female patients can contact Lotus Medics for more information.
Women can experience sudden and intense pelvic pain for various reasons, ranging from stress to a medical condition. The pain can be sharp or stabbing and come on suddenly or last for a period of time.
Understanding the causes and symptoms of pelvic pain and when to seek medical attention can help women better manage this condition.
Vulvodynia-derived from “vulva” and the Greek word “odyne” which means extreme pain)
Chronic pain could also be caused by a condition known as vulvodynia, which is a chronic pelvic pain syndrome that affects the vulva (the external female genitalia).
It is estimated that up to 16% of women are affected by vulvodynia. Women with vulvodynia may have a normal-looking vulva and often it can be difficult to treat and refractory to many treatments.
What are the causes of Vulvodynia/Vulval pain syndrome?
It is difficult to exactly pinpoint the causes of vulvodynia and in some cases, a cause may not be found.
Vulvodynia can be:
- Localised to one area or
It can be:
- Provoked-caused often by touch/stimulus
There are however certain conditions that predispose to pain in vulval region and some of them are mentioned below:
This is a chronic inflammatory condition in extremes of age(around menarche and menopause)in women and is associated with an inflammatory response and cause redness and tightening(lichenification) of the vulval skin around the vulval. Women can get whitish patches and lesions on the vulva.
Chronic thrush/candidiasis can cause continued irritation of the vulval area. interruption/alteration of the normal vaginal biome can cause inflammation and chronic pain.
Allergic and Atopic conditions
Allergic reactions to detergents, soaps, douches, scented toilet products and sanitary products, and synthetic garments causing localized inflammation.
Stress, anxiety and chronic mental health conditions can alter vaginal pH but also cause hyperalgesia and heighten sensitisation to pain.
Pelvic floor dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction can lead to painful vulvovaginal conditions as well.Too weak or too tight pelvic floor muscles can cause painful vulval and vaginal conditions and also affect bladder and bowel control and sexual function.
Symptoms and signs of Vulvodynia
- A burning sensation in the vulval area
- Vulval pain and stinging, tearing, stabbing
- Inability to wear tampons
- Painful intercourse or inability to have penetrative sex
- Difficult/painful pap smears/vaginal examinations
- Pain on sitting for long periods of time, wearing tight garments/during walking/cycling
- Itching in/around the vulval region
- redness around the vulval region
- Associated discharge
- Sometimes painful urination/menstruation – any irritation around the vulval area.
When to seek medical attention for sudden pelvic pain
If you experience sudden, sharp pelvic pain accompanied by any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you are pregnant and experience pelvic pain, you should also seek medical attention to rule out any potential complications.
It is important to note that pelvic pain can be caused by various conditions, some of which may require immediate medical attention.
Understanding the link between pelvic pain and stress in women
Stress and anxiety can worsen existing pelvic pain or even cause new pain. This is because stress can cause muscular tension and affect the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Additionally, some medical conditions can be worsened by stress and anxiety. It is important to recognise the connection between stress and pelvic pain to better manage the condition.
Managing stress and anxiety can be difficult, but there are some strategies that can help. Exercise, relaxation techniques, and talking to a therapist can all help to reduce stress levels.
It is important to get enough sleep and to eat a healthy diet. These strategies can help to reduce the severity of pelvic pain and improve overall health.
Pelvic Pain: How to deal with it and when to see a doctor
If you suffer from pelvic pain, it is important to take steps to manage it. These include lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress levels, getting enough sleep, quitting smoking, and practising relaxation techniques.
It is important to see your doctor if you are experiencing any type of pelvic pain so that it can be correctly diagnosed and treated, as well as determine if there are any underlying conditions causing the pain.
It is important to discuss all of your options with your doctor to determine the best course of action for your individual situation.
Diagnosing stabbing pain in the vaginal area
- As mentioned before, diagnosis, which can often be difficult, relies on:
- A good medical history and your doctor will often try and ask various questions to get to the bottom of the issue.
- A Clinical examination, due to heightened sensitivity to pain, may often be in the form of a cotton tip swab test to map the areas of pelvic pain followed by gentle digital examinations.
- Vaginal swabs and sometimes imaging, maybe a part of investigative workup to rule out causes.
Treatments and possible complications
Treatment for pelvic pain depends on the underlying cause. Treatments are usually multifactorial and involve a variety of measures. In about 40% of women, vulvodynia will spontaneously resolve.
Common treatments include
- Medications such as pain relievers
- Physical therapy
- Maintaining Vulval hygiene
- Neuropathic medications: certain medications which have been used to alter nerve sensitivity to pain help with nerve [pain in these conditions; Examples are Endep (Amitriptyline), Gabapentin, Pregabalin, etc]. These are often medications used in larger dosages to treat conditions like epilepsy and Depression but in smaller dosages have a favourable effect on pain.
- Steroids creams: steroid creams are used to treat conditions like lichen sclerosis.
- Hormone creams – these are used to treat vulvovaginal atrophy conditions in women with a lack of estrogen locally.
- Emolient creams for local relief of pain – Like Olive and Bee
- Treatment of Chronic candidiasis with oral and topical antifungals
Pelvic floor muscle relaxation can help with pelvic floor dysfunction issues. This may involve Biofeedback, targeted exercises, stretching and manual muscle manipulation. Vaginal dilators can also be used as part of this treatment to relax and stretch pelvic floor muscles and trigger points.
Maintain Vulval Hygiene
Some general tips include:
- Do not use douches or perfumed soaps as this will irritate the vulval skin and change vaginal pH – use only water or replace with QV/Cetaphil.
- Use natural fibre garments and avoid synthetic garments.
- After an exercise like gym/swimming.change out of your wet clothes immediately.
- Avoid tight-fitting garments.
- During and after urination, wipe from front to back rather than the other way.
- Use 100% cotton tampoons/menstrual cups to prevent vulval irritation and change them frequently to avoid irritation.
- Use natural preservative-free lubricants for intercourse – like Olive and Bee.
This is rare and often involves the removal of localised lesions and is a last resort in women where other treatments have failed. Surgical treatment to remove large parts of the vulva is controversial and should not be resorted to lightly as it may not be effective and cause more harm.
It is important to speak with your doctor about the potential risks and benefits of each treatment option before beginning any treatment. Complications may include further complications with the underlying condition or infections.
Lotus Medics can help you
If you are struggling with any of the pelvic pains described above, please contact us at Lotus Medics for more information. If you would like to book an appointment at our Orange, Parkes or Bathurst practices, please contact us via telephone at 1300 3LOTUS (1300 356887) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your appointment.
To book an appointment online, please complete your contact details via our online form.
Frquently Asked Questions
If you still require more information on stabbing pain in the vulva please read our most frequently asked questions. Should you still have more questions hereafter please feel free to contact us for more clarification.
What is Lichen Sclerosus?
Lichen Sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin condition which can affect any part of the skin, but it most often affects the genital skin (vulva) and the skin around the anus. It can start in childhood – or adulthood (usually after the menopause) and affect girls or women of any age.
You can read more about the symptoms, treatments and self-care here. If you are experiencing any symptoms, it is important to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Do urinary tract infections cause pain in the vulva in females?
Yes, urinary tract infections can cause pain in the vulva in females. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection can include a burning sensation during urination, frequent need to urinate, pelvic pain, and pain in the vulva.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor to determine if you have a urinary tract infection.
Can a ruptured ovarian cyst cause pelvic pain in women and vulva pain?
Yes, a ruptured ovarian cyst can cause pain in the vulva. The pain may be sharp and localised or may radiate to other parts of the abdomen or pelvis. In some cases, a ruptured ovarian cyst can cause lower back pain. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and fever.
PLEASE NOTE: This information is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment. It is aimed at presenting a perspective only and is not a substitute for a prescription. Anyone experiencing a medical condition should consult their doctor.