The physicians at the Good Samaritan Women's Center for Specialized Care regularly treat these conditions:
- Vulvo disorders
- Pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse
- Vaginal infections
- Vaginal cysts
- Congenital disorders
- Uterine fibroids
- Genital warts
- Genital herpes
- Uterine bleeding
- Abnormal Pap tests
Vulvodynia means “painful vulva,” a lasting pain in the area around the opening of your vagina. The pain can be constant or intermittent and described as:
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
A similar condition is called vulvar vestibulitis, which may cause pain only when pressure is applied to the area surrounding your vaginal opening. Another condition, called pudendal neuralgia, causes pain in the buttocks, vulva, urethra and the area between your anus and genitals.
Experts believe that as many as one in six women experience vulvodynia, yet many never report it to their doctor. Your doctor has many options for treating this condition. They include medication, physical therapy, biofeedback and estrogen cream. After a thorough examination and discussion, your doctor will recommend the treatment that is best for you.
Vulvo Vaginal Disorders
There are numerous disorders associated with the vulva – the area where your external genitals are located. The most common symptoms of disorders in this area are:
- Extreme tenderness
- Lesions in the vulva
The symptoms you experience will help your doctor determine the vulvo vaginal disorder that is present. The discomfort from these disorders can be unbearable. Your doctor will be able to determine if your condition is being caused by something that is easily treatable. If so, the appropriate treatment will be prescribed.
Sometimes the reason for vulvar disorders cannot be determined. Possibilities include a damaged nerve, hormonal changes, allergy or muscle tightness. If your doctor is unable to treat the cause, he will show you how to manage your pain.
Vulvitis is an inflammation of the outer genitals. It can be caused by allergies, long-term skin conditions, or infections. Symptoms may include:
- Burning or itching
- Cracked skin
- Vaginal discharge
- Redness and swelling
- Thickening of the skin
Your doctor will examine the affected area and may test for infection. If prescribed medication is not effective, a biopsy of the skin may be needed to rule out other conditions.
Pain in a broad area below your abdomen is called pelvic pain. You may have it during your period, during intercourse or bowel movement, or whenever you are seated. The pain can be intermittent or steady; severe or a dull ache. It can feel like a pressure deep within your pelvic area.
If the pain is severe enough to disrupt your day, you should see your doctor. Finding the cause of pelvic pain is tricky. If the reason for the pain is found, treatment will focus on eliminating the cause. If not, treatment will focus on managing the pain.
If you experience pain during or soon after sexual intercourse (called dyspareunia), you are not alone. There are many possible reasons for the pain. Your doctor can help you pinpoint the cause. Possibilities include:
- Intercourse too soon after surgery or childbirth
- Vaginal dryness or infection
- Reaction from a latex condom or diaphragm
- Irritation from soaps, douches or other hygiene products
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Urinary tract infections
- Involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles
- Diaphragm that fits poorly
- History of sexual abuse
- Certain medications
Depending on the cause, your doctor may recommend treatments that you can administer at home. Other treatment options include medications and/or therapy. Be sure to notify your doctor if the pain is accompanied by bleeding, vaginal discharge, genital lesions or irregular periods.
Most women experience an inflammation of the vagina at some point during their lifetime. The inflammation can be accompanied by one or more of these symptoms:
- Vaginal itching or irritation
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- White, thick or greenish-yellow discharge
- Pain during intercourse
- Painful urination
- Abnormal bleeding
There are several types of vaginal infections. A pelvic exam often can help your doctor determine the type of infection. Your doctor also may take a sample of your discharge in order to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment – usually a medication – will depend on the type of infection you have.
If you suffer repeatedly from infections, a discussion with your doctor can help. All of the following can play a role:
- Sexual habits
- Soaps, douches
- Hormonal changes
- Damp or tight-fitting clothing
By exploring the reasons for your infections, your doctor can help you determine why they occur, and how to prevent future infections.
A sac of fluid on or under the lining of the vagina is a vaginal cyst. These cysts can be as small as a pea or as large as an orange. They can result from trauma to the vagina, or following an obstetric or gynecologic procedure.
Other than a soft lump within or protruding from the vagina, cysts often have no symptoms. Their presence can cause pain during sexual intercourse or when inserting a tampon.
Upon examination, your doctor may want to take a biopsy of the cyst to rule out cancer. Depending on the location of the cyst, an x-ray may be needed to confirm its presence. Once confirmed, your doctor may simply want to watch the cyst for changes. Removing the cyst via surgery usually is not necessary unless the cyst is causing severe discomfort.
Vaginal Congenital Disorders
Our physicians are experienced at treating all types of vaginal congenital disorders, including:
- Gartner duct cysts
- Adenosis – mucus secreting glands in the vagina
- Vaginal septum
- Absence of the vagina
Fibroids are tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus, usually during middle age. They can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many of them in the uterus. They can be very tiny or as large as a grapefruit. Rarely are they cancerous.Most fibroids are harmless and cause no problems. Sometimes fibroids can cause:
- Heavy bleeding or painful periods
- Full or heavy feeling in the pelvis
- Frequent urination
- Painful intercourse
- Lower back pain
- Complications during pregnancy
- Infertility (rare)
Treatment options for fibroids range from drugs that shrink fibroids to surgery. Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan that is best for you.
Genital warts can itch or bleed and interfere with bowel movements, urination, and sexual intimacy. Removing warts reduces the risk of passing the virus to partners.
Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They usually are sexually transmitted. They also can be seen in infants who have been delivered vaginally to mothers with HPV in their genital tracts. These warts may appear externally in the vaginal area, or inside the vagina or anus. By removing a wart and examining it in a lab, your doctor can confirm diagnosis.
Treatment options include:
- Surgical removal of warts (with laser, by freezing with liquid nitrogen, simple excision or removal with electric needle)
- Chemical application over multiple visits to destroy warts
Your doctor will determine the best treatment for you based on the number of warts, their specific location, and other factors. Recurrences are always possible. New treatments are continually being investigated. Ask your doctor about the latest findings.
Genital Herpes (Herpes Simplex)
Genital herpes is a viral infection that can be spread through sexual contact. It causes sores and blisters around the genitals, or anus. It can be spread through direct contact with thesesores, but also can be spread even if you do not see a sore.
You may have painful attacks with many sores, or only mild symptoms. In addition to sores and blisters, symptoms may include:
- Swollen glands
- Muscle aches
- Stinging feeling during urination
The first bout with genital herpes may last two to four weeks. Recurrent infections usually are less painful and heal more quickly.
Oral medications can shorten the length of an outbreak and reduce discomfort. Daily oral medications can reduce the frequency of outbreaks, and the chance of spreading the disease to someone else. Your doctor can help determine the treatment that is best.
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
There are many reasons why you may experience abnormal bleeding. It can be caused by a hormone imbalance, changes in ovulation, thickening of the uterus, or cancer.
To determine the cause, your doctor likely will order tests. Your age will help determine which tests are needed. Treatment will depend on tests results. It can range from medications to surgery.
Abnormal Pap Tests
An abnormal Pap test sometimes detects cancer cells in the lining of the vagina. If a repeat Pap test also is abnormal, your doctor likely will want to conduct further tests to identify the reason.
For information on cancers of female organs, go to the Gynecologic Oncology (please link to this section) section of this Web site.