Labial pain, or vulvodynia, affects up to 18 percent of women at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health. While no one cause is known and each case is particular to the person, pain that occurs only during menstruation might be related to hormonal changes or increased irritation.
The labia majora and labia minora form the outer and inner "lips" of the vulva, or external genitalia. Some women also experience discomfort around the opening of the vagina.
Nerve irritation or injury, altered hormone receptors or increased inflammatory substances in vulvar tissue, genetic susceptibility, hypersensitivity to infective organisms, or delayed food reactions could be responsible for this condition.
A gynecological examination by a doctor who is knowledgeable about vulvodynia will yield cultures for possible infections. Other health care professionals and specialists might be involved in managing the condition.
Since the cause is unknown, medical care centers on controlling the symptoms. Steroid creams work for some women. Antidepressant or anticonvulsant drugs may be prescribed to treat nerve pain. Narcotic pain relievers are sometimes used.
The National Vulvodynia Association advises women with this condition to avoid douches, soaps, sprays, or feminine hygiene products. Try organic cotton reusable cloth menstrual pads. Wear only white cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting pants. Don't sit for long periods. Rinse with water on the toilet and use soft unscented bathroom paper.