The vulva is the external female genital area that covers and protects a female’s sexual organs and urinary opening. It includes the labia majora, labia minora and tissue at the opening of the vagina.
There are many things that can cause irritation to the vulva, including infection, environmental factors and skin conditions. Some conditions cause minor discomfort, while others can make urination and sex very painful.
Most vulvar skin problems can be managed, but treatment differs based on the condition. The only way to know which one you have, and the best treatment course, is to see your healthcare provider.
The vagina naturally has a certain amount of Candida yeast, but an overgrowth can cause a fungal infection.
Yeast infections are more common in individuals who:
Symptoms of a yeast infection are:
Common treatments include:
Other treatments may be required for severe infections that either don’t get better or keep recurring.
Vulvitis/dermatitis is an inflammation and irritation of the vulva caused by:
Genital herpes is a common STD caused by the herpes virus. While there is no cure, it is manageable.
Signs of genital herpes are blistering and painful lesions on the vulva and surrounding areas. It is contracted through vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner. You can get herpes if you have contact with:
Genital warts are an STD caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They vary in size, shape and color on the vulva, but are usually painless. They can cause:
Trichomoniasis is an STD caused by parasites (like pinworms, scabies and lice) that causes inflammation of the vulva.
Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics, but it can be contracted again. All sexual partners should be treated with antibiotics and engage in protected sex.
Lichen sclerosus is a non-contagious, inflammatory vulvar skin disorder more common in postmenopausal people. Its cause is unknown, but some doctors believe overactive immune systems play a role.
While there is no cure, symptoms can be managed with corticosteroid cream for several weeks. Regular monitoring is important because the affected skin can increase the risk for vulvar cancer if not treated properly.
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there is an imbalance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the vagina. This condition typically occurs in sexually active individuals. Those who use douching products, don’t use condoms or have multiple sexual partners are at an increased risk for developing it.
Symptoms to watch for:
Treatment includes a prescription antibiotic. In some cases, bacterial vaginosis can return after treatment.
For more information on vulvar disorders, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists by calling 330.375.4094.