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Vulvodynia, or chronic pain, burning and itching in the tissues surrounding your vagina, may often go unreported or be misdiagnosed, according to MayoClinic.com 1. This intensely uncomfortable condition can interfere with work, exercise and sexual relations. Even everyday activities such as sitting, walking or wearing tight-fitting clothes can aggravate the symptoms of vulvodynia. Calcium citrate supplements may offer relief of symptoms with minimal side effects, especially when combined with a low-oxalate diet.
The ongoing pain and irritation of vulvodynia have no known cause. Vulvodynia is not associated with any skin condition, infection or sexually transmitted disease. Vulvodynia symptoms, which may last for months or years, may include a feeling of rawness, tingling or itching in the area extending from the mons pubis to the labia. Oxalate is an organic molecule that commonly occurs in fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. When excreted in urine or deposited in the tissues of the vulva, oxalate crystals may contribute to the severe discomfort of vulvodynia.
- The ongoing pain and irritation of vulvodynia have no known cause.
- When excreted in urine or deposited in the tissues of the vulva, oxalate crystals may contribute to the severe discomfort of vulvodynia.
Low Oxalate Diet & Vulvodynia
Calcium citrate is a well absorbed form of calcium that’s frequently used as a dietary supplement. When taken in the doses recommended for treating vulvodynia, calcium citrate may inhibit the growth of oxalate crystals. One theory about vulvodynia holds that high levels of oxalate in your urine may irritate the vulva over time, contributing to the itching and burning that many women with the condition experience. Another theory proposes that oxalate crystal deposits in your vulvar tissues may cause pain and discomfort.
- Calcium citrate is a well absorbed form of calcium that’s frequently used as a dietary supplement.
- Another theory proposes that oxalate crystal deposits in your vulvar tissues may cause pain and discomfort.
Combined with a low-oxalate diet, calcium citrate supplements may relieve the pain, irritation, itching and burning associated with vulvodynia, notes Dr. Barbara Reed in a 2006 article published in “American Family Physician.” Compared with the other oral medications often used to treat this condition, calcium citrate may have few, if any, side effects 2. Your health care provider may recommend calcium citrate alone or in conjunction with other treatments, such as antidepressants, physical therapy or biofeedback therapy.
Bananas to Help Prevent Kidney Stones
If you start calcium citrate therapy for vulvodynia, your health care provider may prescribe two tablets daily as the initial dose, working up to two to four tablets daily. Side effects of calcium citrate may include nausea, constipation, increased urination and decreased appetite. Consult your health care provider if you have any unusual reactions to calcium citrate.
Limiting high-oxalate foods in your diet may offer additional relief of symptoms. Oxalates occur naturally in many nutritious foods. However, oxalate can cause health complications when you excrete high amounts in your urine. A low-oxalate diet means you must restrict wheat bran, spinach, many nuts, tea, coffee and chocolate, among other foods and beverages. Your health care provider or dietitian can work with you to develop a diet that meets your nutritional needs while decreasing urinary oxalate and possibly relieving your pain and irritation.
- Limiting high-oxalate foods in your diet may offer additional relief of symptoms.
- However, oxalate can cause health complications when you excrete high amounts in your urine.
Low Oxalate Diet & Vulvodynia
Bananas to Help Prevent Kidney Stones
List of Foods High in Oxalates
Foods to Avoid Because of Vulvodynia
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- MayoClinic.com: Vulvodynia
- American Family Physician; "Vulvodynia--Diagnosis and Management"; Dr. Barbara Reed; April 2006
- Drugs.com: Calcium Citrate Medical Facts
- Arnold LD, et al. Obstetrics and gynecology. 2006 Mar;107(3):617-24. Vulvodynia: characteristics and associations with comorbidities and quality of life. doi:10.1097/01.AOG.0000199951.26822.27
- Sadownik LA. Etiology, diagnosis, and clinical management of vulvodynia. Int J Womens Health. 2014;6:437-49. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S37660
- National Vulvodynia Association. What causes vulvodynia?
- Cleveland Clinic. Vulvodynia: management and treatment.
- Fleming KC, Volcheck MM. Central sensitization syndrome and the initial evaluation of a patient with fibromyalgia: a review. Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2015;6(2):e0020. doi:10.5041/RMMJ.10204
- Nguyen RH, Ecklund AM, Maclehose RF, Veasley C, Harlow BL. Co-morbid pain conditions and feelings of invalidation and isolation among women with vulvodynia. Psychol Health Med. 2012;17(5):589-98. doi:10.1080/13548506.2011.647703
- Arnold LD, et al. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 2007 Feb;196(2):128.e1-6. Assessment of vulvodynia symptoms in a sample of US women: a prevalence survey with a nested case control study. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2006.07.047
- Carter JE. Surgical treatment for chronic pelvic pain. JSLS. 1998;2(2):129-39
- Hartmann D, Strauhal MJ, Nelson CA. Treatment of women in the United States with localized, provoked vulvodynia: practice survey of women's health physical therapists. J Reprod Med. 2007;52(1):48-52.
- Smith HS, Harris R, Clauw D. Fibromyalgia: an afferent processing disorder leading to a complex pain generalized syndrome. Pain Physician. 2011;14(2):E217-45.
Anne Tourney specializes in health and nutrition topics. She is a registered nurse with experience in medical-surgical nursing, behavioral health and geriatrics. Tourney earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Regis University.