Common Causes of Vulvar Pain, Burning, and Itching
What is a vulvar/vaginal biospy?
- A vulvar/vaginal biopsy takes one or more samples of tissue from the vulva or vagina. The vulva is the outer part of the female genitals. This includes the labia (lips) and the clitoris. The vagina is the opening that leads to the cervix, and the cervix is the entrance to the uterus.
Why is a vulvar/vaginal biopsy needed?
- A biopsy is done to determine why you may have noticed itching, redness, swelling, or changes in color to your vulva or vagina. It may also be done if you have a lump or sore that has recently appeared.
What happens during the procedure?
- First, the biopsy area will be cleaned with an antiseptic liquid. If you are having a vaginal biopsy, your provider will use a speculum to open your vagina. A speculum is the same instrument used during a Pap smear. Numbing medicine will be injected into the area that is going to be biopsied. One or more small pieces of tissue will be removed and sent to a lab for analysis. If you require stitches, dissolvable stitches will most likely be used. These stitches do not need to be removed by your provider. You may feel some discomfort and pressure during the procedure.
What self-care measures can help prevent or clear up vulvar problems?
The following self-care measures may help prevent or clear up certain vulvar problems:
- Keep your vulva clean by rinsing with warm water and gently patting, not rubbing, it dry.
- Do not wear tight-fitting pants or underwear. Wear only cotton underwear.
- Do not wear pantyhose (unless they have a cotton crotch).
- Do not use pads or tampons that contain a deodorant or a plastic coating
- Do not use perfumed soap or scented toilet paper.
- Do not douche or use feminine sprays or talcum powders.
What is a Bartholin gland cyst?
The Bartholin glands are located under the skin on either side of the opening of the vagina. They release a fluid that helps with lubrication during sexual intercourse. If the Bartholin glands become blocked, a cyst can form, causing a swollen bump near the opening of the vagina. Bartholin gland cysts usually are not painful unless they become infected. If this occurs, an abscess can form.
If your cyst is not causing pain, it can be treated at home by sitting in a warm, shallow bath or by applying a warm compress. If an abscess has formed, treatment involves draining the cyst using a needle or other instrument in a health care professional’s office.
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