Vulvar Health Hints

Here are some general hints for vulvar health. If you suffer from vulvodynia, this information will likely not provide a cure for, or significant relief from, your pain – but it may help prevent further irritation. Please note that you do not have to follow all of the vulvar health hints at the same time; rather, choose the ones that best suit your lifestyle and try them for a period of time. Find what works best for you.

Laundry Care

Use dermatologically-approved detergent (e.g., Purex®, Clear®) on underwear or any other type of clothing/material that comes into contact with the vulva (e.g., pajama bottoms, exercise clothing, towels); Use 1/3 to 1/2 the suggested amount per load. Other clothing may be washed with the laundry soap of your choice.

Avoid using fabric softener and/or bleach on underwear or any other kind of clothing or material that comes onto contact with the vulva.

Avoid using dryer sheets on clothing/material that comes into contact with the vulva; hang-dry these items.

Double-rinse underwear and any other kind of clothing that comes into contact with the vulva.

If you use stain-removing products on items that come into contact with the vulva, soak and rinse them in clear water and then wash them in your regular washing cycle (given the restrictions above) in order to remove as much of the product as possible.

Clothing Choices

Wear white, 100% cotton underwear to allow air in and moisture out.

Go without underwear when possible (e.g., when sleeping).

Avoid thong (g-string) underwear.

Avoid wearing full-length pantyhose; try thigh-high or knee-high stockings 

Avoid tight fitting pants or jeans that may put pressure on the vulva.

Avoid spandex®, lycra® and other tight-fitting clothing during workouts, and 
remove wet bathing suits and exercise clothing promptly.

Hygiene Hints

Use soft, white, non-recycled, unscented toilet paper and 100% cotton pads or tampons.

Avoid using scented products such as bubble bath, feminine hygiene products (pads or tampons), creams, or soaps that come into contact with the vulvar region.

Avoid using feminine deodorant sprays, Vaseline®, and colored soaps in the vulvar area, and avoid douching unless recommended by your physician.

When you shower/bathe, do not use soap until the very end, and avoid applying it directly to the vulva. Use mild soaps such as Dove®, and avoid getting shampoo on the vulvar area.

Wash the vulva with cool to lukewarm water with your hand. Pat your vulvar area dry, do not rub. Do not use soap, wash cloths, or loofahs on the vulva; these can dry out and /or irritate the sensitive vulvar skin.

Many women wash the vulva too often which can further irritate the area once a day is enough.

Avoid shaving the vulvar area.

Keeping the vulvar area dry is important; if you are chronically damp, keep 
an extra pair of underwear with you in a small bag and change if you become 
damp during the day at school/work.

If you suffer from repeated vaginal infections, avoid using over-the-counter 
creams which might irritate the sensitive vulvar skin. Instead, discuss with your doctor the option of a systemic, oral medication (e.g., Diflucan®). It is important to visit your doctor for an examination when you suspect you have an infection; self-diagnosis and treatment without confirmation may lead to misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment that can cause more harm than benefit to your vulva.

Physical Activities

Avoid exercises that put direct pressure on the vulva such as bicycle riding and horseback riding. Use padded shorts/bicycle seats if you do engage in such activities.

Limit intense exercises that create a lot of friction in the vulvar area.

Use a frozen gel pack wrapped in a towel to relieve symptoms after exercise.

Enroll in a yoga class to learn relaxation and breathing techniques.

Avoid swimming in highly chlorinated pools, and avoid using hot tubs.

Pre- and Post-Sexual Intercourse Suggestions

Use a lubricant that is water-soluble before penetration (e.g., Liquid K-Y®, Astroglide®, Slippery Stuff®). If you find that these lubricants irritate you or dry out during intercourse, a pure vegetable oil (such as Crisco®, solid or oil) has no chemicals and is also water-soluble. Please note that Crisco® is not latex-friendly and therefore should not be used in combination with condoms.

A topical anesthetic (for example, Xylocaine®) may help before intercourse; discuss this with your doctor and ensure that you know how, where, and when to apply it.

To relieve burning and irritation after intercourse, take cool or lukewarm sitz or baking soda baths (4-5 tablespoons, 1-3 times a day for 10 minutes each).

Apply ice or a frozen blue gel pack wrapped in one layer of a hand towel to relieve burning after intercourse. Other ideas include a bag of frozen peas, or fill a dish-soap bottle with water and freeze it; these fit well against the vulva.

Urinate (to prevent infection) and rinse the vulva with cool water after sexual intercourse.

Websites About Vulvodynia

The National Vulvodynia Association website

“Improving women’s health through education, research, support, and advocacy”

Dr. Glazers’s website

This website is dedicated to increasing the public awareness of vulvodynia and providing a forum for support and exchange of information for patients, their support networks, treating professionals, and researchers.

Discussion group for vulvar pain problems in general.

The VulvarDisorders List is an on-line support group for women who suffer from vulvar vestibulitis, vulvodynia, lichen sclerosis, vaginitis, and other vulvar disorders. Family members and medical professionals are welcome.

Treatment Resources Halifax

Dr. Isabelle Delisle

Obstetrics & Gynaecology Associates

182 Victoria Rd,
Dartmouth, NS, B3A 1W2

Telephone: (902) 461-2246


Dr. Melissa Brooks

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

IWK Health Centre
5850/5980 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 6R8

(902) 470-7432

Stella Roy

Bedford Health Centre

Suite 140, 200 Waterfront Drive,
Bedford, Nova Scotia, B4A 4J4

Telephone: (902) 835-1932


Erika Burger Physiotherapy

(902) 229-8979


Synergy PhysioPliates

2742 Robie St., Suite 100

(902) 407-1417

These psychologists in private practice have expertise in working with women (and couples) dealing with vulvo-vaginal pain. You will have to pay for these services. Check with your insurance plans.

Sex therapy and couples counselling

Natalie O. Rosen, PhD, R. Psych.

Dr. Rosen offers a limited number of appointments on Thursday mornings for sex and couples therapy. Due to COVID-19, she is currently seeing clients for virtual (i.e., online by video) appointments only. Her office is located at Coastal Psychology, 5991 Spring Garden Road – Suite 900.
You can inquire about an appointment by emailing Dr. Rosen at The current wait-time is at least six months. Physicians can also send referrals to this same email address, or by fax to (902) 417-1555.

Click Here for More Information

Dr. Natalie Stratton

Coastal Psychology

5991 Spring Garden Rd, Suite 900, Halifax, NS, B3H 1Y6

Miranda Fudge, PhD, R.Psych

Dr Leah Clyburn and Associates

72 Gary Martin Drive (suite 100), Bedford, NS  



Dr. Sheila MacNeil

Lesley Hartman and Associates

3845 Joseph Howe Dr., Suite 209, Halifax, NS B3L 4H9

(902) 431-1721

Dr. Elisabeth Gold – By referral only

Three Treasures 1464 Cathedral Lane., Halifax, NS

(902) 229-8043


Community Mental Health

A psychologist or counselor from Community Mental Health may not have expertise in working with women (and couples) dealing with vulvo-vaginal pain. They will likely still be helpful in assisting you (and your partner) in improving your coping. You would not have to pay for these services. You will need a referral from your family doctor to obtain services at one of these clinics. For more information, or the clinic nearest you, visit this website.