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Vaginal pain can be a temporary symptom of infection or injury. Or, it can be a chronic symptom with no known cause.

Persistent vaginal pain with no clear cause is called vulvodynia. It is a common gynecological condition, affecting up to 16% of women around the World.

Fear or embarrassment may keep a person from seeking professional treatment for vaginal pain. Some who have sought treatment report that the doctors were quick to dismiss their symptoms.

However, the right healthcare provider will work diligently to diagnose and treat the problem.

Causes Of Vaginal Pain
A wide range of conditions can cause vaginal pain, but the following are the most common:

1. Infection
Yeast infections are among the most common causes of vaginal pain. About 75% of women develop a vaginal yeast infection at some point.

A yeast infection can cause itching, burning, and sometimes cottage cheese-like discharge from the vagina.

These infections do not usually come spread sexual intercourse, and most experts do not recommend treating sexual partners.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is also common, particularly among people who are sexually active.

While BV may cause no symptoms, it can cause the following symptoms in the vagina:

Pain.
Itching.
Burning.
A fishy odor.
Uncomfortable sex.

Many people mistake the symptoms of BV for those of a yeast infection. However, the two have different causes and require different treatments.

Some other infections, especially the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also cause pain and unusual discharge.

2. Physical trauma
Physical injury to the vagina or vulva can cause vaginal pain. Injuries such as cuts from shaving may be responsible, but one of the most common causes of injury and pain is childbirth.

Giving birth causes vaginal tearing in most women the first time that they go into labor. The tear usually extends into the perineum, which is the area between the vagina and anus. Doctors refer to this as a perineal tear. It is also possible for the clitoris or labia to tear during childbirth.

A doctor or midwife may need to stitch up serious tears. The stitches dissolve over time and do not require removal.

Pelvic floor dysfunction or injury
Damage to the muscles of the pelvic floor can cause pain in the vagina, stomach, back, and muscles in other areas.

Some factors that can increase the risk of pelvic floor problems include:

Age
Pregnancy
Injury from childbirth
Episiotomy, which is a surgical incision to enlarge the vaginal opening into the perineum during labor. Some people with pelvic floor dysfunction also experience incontinence, especially when sneezing or jumping. A person may also experience fecal incontinence, pain when passing stool, or both.

3. Vulvodynia
Vulvodynia is a type of chronic pain in the vulva, vagina, or both. The pain varies from person to person, but many report a burning pain that is fairly continuous, though it can be triggered or worsened by intercourse.

Doctors do not fully understand vulvodynia and why it occurs. The diagnostic process can be lengthy because it involves excluding other causes of vaginal pain.

Anyone who suspects that they have vulvodynia should see a doctor — various treatments are available.

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