Tips for Managing Vulvar Pain During Pregnancy

Did You Know?

When women suffer from repeated attacks of thrush, they can experience vulvodynia symptoms [1].

“Women can develop vulvodynia during or just after pregnancy. However, some vulvodynia sufferers who get pregnant, can notice their symptoms get worse or better! It’s possible that repeated attacks of thrush in pregnancy can make symptoms worse, & irritation from creams applied to the vulva, can exacerbate matters” [1]. It is however, important to be mindful that as a Vulva Specialist will tell you, “everyone’s pain is individual; & what will happen to one woman will not necessarily happen to another” [1]

Changes in the Vulva During a Normal Pregnancy

During a normal pregnancy, due to the fact that levels of the hormone oestrogen, escalate (via the placenta),women may experience a rise in their usual amount of vaginal discharge. This white discharge does not however, generate any irritation or itching. Of note, generally speaking, when there are no symptoms, the former is not concerning or infectious.

“Do not think this is thrush, just because pregnant women are more prone to this infection. If you develop a vaginal thrush infection, then itching followed by soreness & discharge (white — like milk curds) is what normally follows” [1]. When you consult a Vulva Specialist, they will take a simple swab test to determine the situation, & then put you on a Personalised Treatment Plan

I’m Concerned About How I Will Feel During Delivery

Some research indicates that: “among women with vestibulodynia (vulval vestibulitis), one fifth of women noticed their pain started following delivery” [1]

Of note, these studies are not clear as to whether it was actually vestibulodynia itself, or pain due to other causes (for example, reduced oestrogen while breast-feeding, or vaginal stitches). Furthermore, pain in the vulva has even been recorded when women underwent Caesarean section delivery. Moreover, those who had given birth to more than one baby, seemed to experience varying degrees of pain post-delivery from different children.

Points to Remember

Pain in the vulva can come about post-delivery for other reasons. Furthermore, if you suffer from vulvodynia before giving birth, then you might think that it has ‘flared up’ afterwards. Other common causes of post-delivery vulval pain comprise:
•Vaginal infections (such as the aforementioned thrush)
•Pain due to your stitches
•Oestrogen insufficiency during breast-feeding
•The healing of your stitches is too tight [1].

But whatever your source of pain, your Vulva Specialist will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis, and get you back on the path to recovery.

[1]. Vulva Pain Society (2023). “Pregnancy and Vulval Pain.”