Problems of the vulva affect women of all age groups. Many women do not seek medical care for these problems for a variety of reasons. Some are embarassed. Some are concerned that the symptoms may represent a sinister, possibly malignant cause. Some may think that nothing can be done. I see a lot of women with vulval issues ranging from young to old and all ages in between. Many comment that they wished they had sought medical attention earlier and not been so worried about the embarassment factor. Virtually all of the vulval conditions that I see are benign and not related to cancer. All vulval conditions can be treated and most women see results in a relatively short period of time.
There are many causes for itchiness (pruritis) and each case needs to be assessed and then treated individually. Often a detailed examination of the vulva needs to be performed using a colposcope. This gives a very magnified view of the skin of the vulva. The same instrument is used when examining the cervix when assessing abnormal PAP smear results. Ongoing management (often with the use of creams or occasionally with tablets) is tailored for each womans specific problem.
Vulval pain can be one of the more difficult areas to treat and often requires persistence with the various modes of treatment. It is usually confined to pain with intercourse but not always. Potential causes are many. Often there is an issue with the nerves supplying the area of the vulva and with spasming of the pelvic floor muscles. Often treatment is team oriented with the involvement of pelvic floor physiotherapists (I recommend Jane Barker and colleagues), chronic pain specialists and sometimes psychologists.
Valuable information regarding vulval diseases can be found HERE at the patient information page for the Australian and New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society. Specific information can be found for the following conditions and more.
Vulval Skin Care - some very simple measures can be extremely helpful in alleviating symptoms
Vulval pain (vulvodynia) - what is it ? How can it be treated?
Vulval candidiasis (thrush) - one of the more common causes of pain and itchiness in younger women
Lichen sclerosus - one of the more commong causes of itchiness and pain in older women (but can be found in women of all ages.