Vulvar disorders

Our approach

The gynecologists and gynecologic oncologists at Northwell Health offer highly specialized care for the full spectrum of conditions that may be causing changes to your vulva.

Our general gynecologists, pelvic floor specialists and pediatric and adolescent gynecologists have a large amount of experience using proven approaches on women at every stage of their lives.

If you are diagnosed with a malignant or precancerous vulvar disorder, a team of specialists or subspecialists at the Gynecologic Oncology Center will offer cutting-edge individualized care. With one of the largest and most comprehensive gynecologic oncology centers, you will have access to the latest technology in the hands of industry-leading physicians. 

Overview

The vulva, which is composed of the labia, clitoris, outer vagina and outer urethra, is susceptible to a wide variety of conditions that can occur in all ages. Most of these are skin conditions. They are typically classified as either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

If you experience redness, itching, burning or lesions in the vulva area, you should tell your gynecologist. These symptoms can be caused by many different conditions, ranging from common infections to malignant cancer.

 

Causes and risks

The causes of vulvar disorders vary depending on your condition. Bacterial infections and natural fungi can cause many benign vulvar disorders, while malignant vulvar disorders may be related to tobacco consumption or the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Common risk factors include:

  • Select hygiene products
  • Personal hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal imbalances related to pregnancy or age

Types

There are a vast number of vulvar disorders, each with its own causes, symptoms and treatments. Some of the most common vulvar disorders include the following: 

Symptoms

If you have a vulvar disorder, you may see and/or feel a number of symptoms. Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to determine the exact cause of the following common vulvar disorder symptoms:

  • Discoloration
  • A growth, such as a wart or ulcer
  • Persistent itching or burning
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain during urination or bowel movements

Diagnosis and testing

Before ordering any tests, your gynecologist will ask about your symptoms and conduct a physical exam. This information may be enough for your doctor to make a diagnosis, though most cases require a biopsy or Pap smear.

Blood and urine tests may also be used to screen for common abnormalities. Depending on your medical history and sexual activity, a sexually transmitted disease test may also be used.

It is important to make an appointment with your gynecologist as soon as you begin to experience symptoms. With so many different kinds of vulvar disorders causing similar symptoms, it is common to self-diagnose and treat the wrong condition, making the real condition even worse. 

Treatment options

Treatment of your vulvar disorder depends greatly on the type of condition you have and its severity. Northwell Health gynecologists are dedicated to creating a treatment plan tailored to you and your unique situation.

Though there is a full spectrum of potential treatments, your physician may recommend one of the following common approaches:

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Our board-certified, subspecialty-trained doctors provide comprehensive primary and specialty care for women of every age.