These embarrassing medical concerns might prompt a snigger, but they’re no laughing matter for those who suffer from them day to day. By Mark Brook
What it is: Ever since Charlotte suffered a “depressed vagina” in Sex And The City, the term has been part of pop culture, but the unpleasant reality of this condition is chronic pain and sensitivity in the vulva (the external area of the female genitals). About one in four women experience vulva pain at some point, but South Australian gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Fariba Behnia-Willison says the condition affects 1 in 50 of us. Why it happens: Causes can range from a nerve injury and irritation from underwear or creams to a side effect from overuse of antibiotics. Hormonal changes brought on by menopause, the contraceptive pill and breastfeeding can also be a factor. However, in many cases there’s no obvious cause. How to treat it: Behnia-Willison advises seeing a gynaecologist or a GP for a check-up and reviewing possible contributing medications. Stick to cotton underwear and tampons, and laundry products that have been dermatologically approved, and avoid using shampoo and highly perfumed products on the area.