Take a Look Under the Hood: Treatments Available for Clitoral Pain

Women have the only organ in the human body exclusively dedicated to pleasure: the clitoris! This humorous brief documentary educates people and reveals something very telling: the clitoris has been ignored and hidden—by society, medical professionals, and educators. For many women, their early sexual partners provided them with their only sex education; with little knowledge and much fumbling, clitoral pleasure was discovered almost by accident.

Clitorologist?
Think about it. Have you ever been taught how to look at your clitoris? Has a doctor ever asked you about your clitoris or examined it? Medical professionals are not routinely taught the anatomy of the clitoris (Even some of the most famous textbooks don’t mention it!), and it is not considered part of the routine female pelvic exam. This poses a big problem. If doctors don’t know what a normal clitoris looks like, how will they know what to do when questions or problems come up? What kind of doctor do you see if you have a problem with your clitoris? (Pssst: There is no such thing as a clitorologist!)

Clitoral Problems
Pain in the clitoris (called “clitorodynia”) is considered a localized form of vulvodynia (vulvar pain) and is thought to occur in 5% of women who complain of painful intercourse. Pain can be due to adhesions or scarring of the clitoris where the clitoral hood (aka the prepuce) gets stuck to the glans clitoris. This can lead to trapping and buildup of oils and dead skin cells which cause underlying irritation and infection. Women describe the pain as burning, stinging, or sharp—some have likened it to the sensation of having a grain of sand in your eye. It can affect the whole pelvis and just feel like “pain down there.” Clitorodynia can make a sexual experience difficult, if not impossible. It can also make everyday life excruciating because the “pain down there” can be present all the time, even without sexual activity.

Help is here
Doctors trained in sexual medicine can diagnose and treat clitoral problems! With a specialized physical exam and several diagnostic tests, the underlying cause for your pain can be found. Luckily a number of successful medical and surgical treatment options are available.

For example, at a recent national conference, our newest practice member urologist Rachel Rubin, MD, presented research on a new minimally invasive in-office procedure to remove clitoral adhesions. In this study, 15 women with clitorodynia reported complete resolution of their adhesions after the treatment, with the majority reporting improvement in or elimination of their pain symptoms.

Speak up
Sexual health is an important part of your general health. You deserve a pleasurable, pain-free sexual experience. If you have discomfort or pain, we are here to help. Please call us at (202) 293-1000 if you are experiencing any symptoms so we can work together to improve your sexual health.

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