Painful Sex Specialist

Many conditions can cause painful sex symptoms. Embry Women’s Health is skilled in diagnosing the causes of painful sex and helping Mesa, Arizona, women get the treatment they need to relieve symptoms, restore confidence and feel better about their health.

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Painful Sex Q & A

What is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is classified as chronic pain or discomfort, which includes burning, stinging, irritation or rawness of the female genitalia, specifically of the vulva. The word “vulvodynia” actually means “painful vulva.” This condition can severely impact the quality of life for affected women and may prohibit participation in sexual activity, physical exercise and even social activities. The condition is believed to be underreported because of its lack of visible symptoms and often a woman’s reluctance to talk about her symptoms. As many as one in six women may be affected by vulvodynia at some point in their life.

What is the cause of vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia does not have one set cause, but several factors can contribute to the development of chronic vulvar pain. A history of recurrent vaginitis or vaginal yeast infections, as well as allergies, lupus, eczema, hip or back injury or hormonal imbalance can be some causes of this condition.

What is vulvar vestibulodynia?  (vulvar vestibulitis)

Vulvar vestibulitis is a form of vulvodynia in which a patient’s pain occurs in the vestibule, or the area around the opening of the vagina. This condition can produce a burning sensation that may be persistent or arise mainly when pressure is placed on the vestibule. It is a common cause of sexual pain. It can be tested by a “q-tip test ” touching the tiny gland openings at the entrance to the vagina with a cotton-tipped applicator. If the patient suffers from vulvodynia, the area will be extremely sensitive.

What is the cause of vulvar vestibulitis?

The cause of vulvar vestibulitis is unknown, but inflammation, past infections, nerve injury and hormonal changes are all believed to be contributing factors.

What is the treatment of vulvar vestibulitis?

There are a number of methods available to effectively treat vulvar vestibulitis. These include the use of estrogen hormones, topical anesthetics, prescription medications that disrupt some nerve impulses and physical therapy focused on the pelvic muscles. In more severe cases that do not respond to conservative treatments, vestibulectomy surgery may be recommended. This procedure involves removing some of the tissue of the vestibule to relieve symptoms.

Are there skin conditions that can cause vulvodynia?

Vulvar dermatoses, caused by dermatologic conditions, such as lichens sclerosis, are often present in the form of itching and burning.  They are conditions associated with chronic vulvar pain and these conditions can coexist with vulvodynia.

Can vulvar pain be more generalized?

Dysesthetic vulvodynia, or generalized vulvodynia, where symptoms occur throughout the vulvar anatomy and can occur constantly or intermittently. Patients have reported pain in the labia majora, labia minora, vestibule, clitoris and/or inner thighs. Pressure to the vulva can trigger these symptoms but is not the only cause.

What is clitorodynia?

Clitorodynia is a form of vulvodynia in which the pain is concentrated in and around the clitoris. The area may feel sore and uncomfortable much of the time or mainly while exercising, wearing tight clothing or having sexual intercourse. In some patients, sitting for long periods of time and dealing with stress can worsen the symptoms. This condition may be a result of trauma to the clitoral area or certain systemic illnesses, but in many cases, a cause is not found for clitorodynia. Lifestyle changes such as wearing loose-fitting clothing, physical therapy and over-the-counter pain medication may help some patients. For those with severe or persistent symptoms, prescription medication, topical pain relievers and nerve block injections can be effective treatment methods for reducing pain.

What is coccydynia?

Coccydynia refers to pain and inflammation affecting the coccyx, or tailbone, which is located between the buttocks. Patients suffering from coccydynia may experience pain and/or tenderness on the tailbone that is especially pronounced when sitting. Coccydynia is usually diagnosed through a physical examination, and in some cases, imaging scans to rule out other conditions. Treatment for coccydynia includes sitting in seats with sufficient padding and over-the-counter pain medication. Persistent cases of coccydynia may require cortisone injections, or in rare instances, surgery.

How is vulvodynia treated?

Treatment for vulvodynia may or may not cure the condition, but it does help to relieve symptoms.

Careful care of the vulva, avoiding toxins, and the use of cotton underwear, toilet tissue free of bleach, lubricants free of preservatives and chemicals, and non-perfumed soaps and creams can help mitigate symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

  • Trigger point injections can be used to insert a steroid medication as well as a numbing agent into the exact points where pain is felt.
  • Topical agents, such as estrogen can be applied daily to reduce pain.
  • Physical therapy or biofeedback treatments teach muscle control and allow patients to counteract pelvic muscle spasms.
  • Pelvic nerve block may be inserted to numb the nerves in the pelvic area.

Botox injections may be used to relax spastic muscles and reduce tension pain in the region.

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OUR PATIENTS SAY

I first chose to come to Embry Womens Health because it was near my home and they took my insurance. I’ve been coming back because JoEllen is AMAZING! The whole office is so welcoming and comforting, I’ve moved 20 miles away and I STILL go to see JoEllen for all of my women’s healthcare. I will literally plan my days off around an appointment so I can continue being a patient here.
I can’t say enough good things about Embry Women’s Health and hope to be able to be a patient for life!

5 Stars – Yelp – 11/13/2019

MAGGIE S.

I still love this place. It’s my second year as a patient here, and they still treat me so well. Every concern that I had was taken seriously and my doctor gave me some things to help with a couple of them. The office also isn’t really cold (which I’ve found to be a problem at some offices) so you won’t be freezing during your exam. She’s definitely the best doctor I have been to and recommend to every woman to look into coming here. Also, all of your test results are available online through a patient portal, and you can also schedule new appointments and fill out all of your patient information forms ahead of time on there. This makes checking in for your appointment super quick and easy.

5 Stars – Yelp – 10/31/2019

SHANA E.

This was my first visit at this office and it was so much better then a visit I’ve had at a different gynecologist. The ladies were genuinely friendly and helpful and all very knowledgeable. They make you feel comfortable and safe. It’s so hard to find a gynecologist that fits your needs and I’m very happy to say I found mine.

5 Stars – Yelp – 4/10/2018

KELLY M.

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Embry Women’s Health is committed to providing quality, affordable health care. We’re in-network with all major insurance plans, including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare. No insurance? No problem. We offer a simple fee schedule for those who wish to pay out-of-pocket. Click the button below for our complete list and more information:

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TESTIMONIALS

Words from our patients

JoEllen is AMAZING! Not only is she professional- she makes your whole experience comfortable. If you’re looking for a professional that never judges your situation and treats you very well- I would definitely recommend this office!

5 Stars – Yelp

Patient Image Yelp Layna HLayna H., Yelp

It is refreshing to meet a practitioner who sees the whole patient and not just a series of symptoms. JoEllen is willing to spend the time to ask questions and really listen to the responses. I have seen JoEllen several times and I have always appreciated how much time she spends with each appointment and her pragmatic approach with solutions.  I feel like my health drives the appointment and not the schedule. Finding JoEllen’s practice was like finding a needle in a haystack, a caring practitioner who encourages patients to listen to their bodies and to be their own best advocate.

5 Stars – 10/11/2018

Patient Image Kathy NKathy N., Yelp

Friendly staff. JoEllen is incredibly kind, patient and answers all of my questions whenever I see her. I don’t feel like I am being rushed when I am there, it is very nice.

5 Stars – 10/4/2018

Patient Image Ashley DAshley D., Yelp

I was super impressed. NP Eva was wonderfully personable and professional. Front desk staff (thanks, Mia) was kind and thoughtful. They have snacks and drinks in the waiting room. It’s super clean and the view is lovely. It sits right on the lake at Dobson Ranch.

5 Stars – 5/24/2021

“I started seeing Joellen earlier this year and I have had nothing but good experiences every time I have gone back. She is very down to earth and listens to any concerns. I would highly recommend Embry Womens Health.”

5 stars – 09/28/2018

Patient Image Jeannie DJeannie D., Yelp