Vaginal irritation can include many symptoms including burning, itching, pain, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse. These symptoms can occur at any age and for many different reasons. We can assess and diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms and provide treatment options for long-lasting relief.
Vulvovaginitis, inflammation of the vulva and or vagina, can cause itching, pain, discharge, and irritation. Common causes include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, occasionally sexually transmitted infections, and due to local irritants such as soaps or chronic use of pads/panty liners.
Menopause and resulting low estrogen levels can result in vulvovaginal atrophy causing dryness, itching, painful intercourse.
Certain dermatologic skin conditions can similarly cause vaginal irritation symptoms. Lichen sclerosis can be seen at any age, but is most common in young girls and after menopause. This condition causes the skin of the vulva and around the anus to be white/pale, painful, and itchy.
Other skin conditions include psoriasis, eczema, and contact dermatitis.
More rarely vulvar or vaginal irritation may be due to a more serious condition such as herpes or cancer.
Your treatment for vaginal irritation will depend on the cause. Your doctor will first examine you to help make a diagnosis. The exam may include a pelvic exam, a Pap test if due, cervical and/or vaginal swabs, and more rarely a biopsy. Often, simple vulvovaginal hygiene techniques such as minimizing soap and pad use and other local irritants may be enough.
If an infection is diagnosed, medicine may be required. If lichen sclerosis or psoriasis is diagnosed, most patients will require local steroid use. Sometimes steroids need to be used long term.
If your vaginal irritation is due to menopause, hormonal therapy will often be recommended, most often locally, and sometimes systemically. Local hormone treatment includes creams, vaginal pills, or estrogen-containing vaginal rings, which are usually very successful treatments.
Some, for instance, breast cancer survivors, cannot or do not want to use hormones. Another option that helps provide relief from vaginal atrophy symptoms after menopause or irritation from lichen sclerosis is the MonaLisa Touch vaginal laser therapy by Cynosure. This therapy for the vagina and/or vulva that can provide long-term relief from dryness, irritation, painful intercourse. MonaLisa laser therapy is not currently covered by OHIP provincial medical coverage. We can talk to you about the costs and help you decide if this treatment is an option for you. There may be financing options available in some cases.
MonaLisa Touch laser therapy is a simple, in-office procedure that typically takes just five minutes to perform. Typically, three treatments performed six weeks apart are needed for optimal relief of symptoms, and often one treatment is needed in a year and then every 12-18 months for maintenance of symptom control. The laser treatment requires no anesthesia, no downtime, and you may experience improved symptoms after the first treatment.*
The relief you get from MonaLisa Touch treatments is long-lasting, and you may continue to experience relief with only one follow-up treatment each year. The painless MonaLisa Touch procedure restores the vagina by stimulating collagen production which helps relieve vaginal dryness and increases elasticity in vaginal tissue.
Sometimes vaginal irritation goes away on its own, but if it continues to be a problem, there’s no need to continue living with discomfort. Call the friendly, knowledgeable team at Open Arms OB/GYN to schedule an appointment so you can get relief.
*Individual results may vary.