Self-Help Strategies

Self-Help Strategies

Self-Help Strategies

While you are seeking effective treatment for vulvar pain, you also need coping measures to relieve symptoms and prevent further irritation. Even when your symptoms are under control, you should follow the guidelines below as a preventive strategy.

Clothing and Laundry

  • Wear all-white cotton underwear and loose-fitting pants or skirts.
  • Wear thigh-high or knee-high hose instead of pantyhose.
  • Remove wet bathing suits and exercise clothing promptly.
  • Use dermatologically-approved detergent such as Purex or Clear.
  • Double-rinse underwear and other clothing that touches the vulva.
  • Do not use fabric softener on undergarments.


  • Use soft, white, unscented toilet paper.
  • Avoid getting shampoo on the vulvar area.
  • Do not use bubble bath, feminine hygiene products, or any perfumed creams or soaps.
  • Wash the vulva with cool to lukewarm water only.
  • Urinate before the bladder is full and rinse the vulva with water afterwards.
  • Prevent constipation by adding fiber to your diet and drinking plenty of liquids, especially water, throughout the day.
  • Use 100 percent cotton menstrual pads and tampons.

Sexual Intercourse

  • Use a water-based lubricant, eg, Aloe Cadabra.
  • Do not use contraceptive creams or spermicides.
  • Ask your provider to prescribe a topical anesthetic, e.g., lidocaine.
  • Wrap ice or a frozen gel pack in one layer of a hand towel and apply to the vulva for 15 minutes after intercourse.
  • Urinate and rinse the vulva with cool water after intercourse.

Physical Activities

  • Avoid exercises, such as bicycle riding, that put direct pressure on the vulva.
  • Limit intense exercises that create a lot of friction in the vulvar area.
  • Learn stretching and relaxation exercises.
  • Don’t swim in highly chlorinated pools or use hot tubs.

Everyday Living

  • Try using a donut cushion for long periods of sitting. This Foam Donut Cushion and the Kabooti Donut Seat have both been recommended by vulvodynia patients. The NVA receives no compensation for advertising these products.
  • For temporary relief, use wrapped ice or a frozen gel pack for 15 minutes or a sitz bath with lukewarm or cool water.
  • If you primarily sit at work all day, intersperse periods of standing.
  • Learn some relaxation techniques to use during the day. The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Davis, Eshelman and McKay or The Chronic Pain Control Workbook by Catalano and Hardin are helpful.
Self-Help Strategies