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If you suffer from vulvodynia, then the use of lidocaine, a topical anesthetic can be an effective temporary solution for you.
Topical anesthetics are not a long-lasting solution nor a cure for your pain (and if any doctor is trying to sell you on this, please change your doctor).
However, if you use lidocaine for vulvodynia as a temporary pain relief option, you might find it to be your faithful companion that allows you to survive the really hard times and permit you to have a little bitter-sweet pleasure. Yes, I mean sex.
#1: What Are Anesthetics?
Anesthetics are drugs used to induce anesthesia, a state in which your body temporarily loses its sensations or awareness. There are two types of anesthetics – general and local.
General anesthetics are used for general anesthesia (where your whole body is affected) causing a reversible loss of consciousness by putting you to sleep.
Local anesthetics (injectable or topical) are used for local anesthesia (where a limited region of your body is affected) causing a reversible loss of sensation (numbing feeling) in the affected part, without altering your state of consciousness.
#2: How Does Local Topical Anesthetic Work?
Local topical anesthetics work by reversibly blocking the pain signal from the nerve that transmits that feeling from the area of administration (the part of the skin) to the brain.
A local anesthetic is designed not to be distributed widely in the body by being easily broken down and excreted after a limited period of time.
#3: Lidocaine for Vulvodynia
Lidocaine is a type of local topical anesthetic mostly used for vulvar vestibulitis treatment. Vulvar vestibulitis is also called vestibulodynia and it is a type of localized vulvodynia to the vulvar vestibule.
It is usually administered in cream or ointment form.
The effectiveness of lidocaine in temporarily relieving vulvar vestibulitis was demonstrated by one relatively recent study. Participants with mainly provoked and localized vulvar pain were asked to apply to their vestibule area, overnight, a 5% lidocaine ointment by using a coated cotton ball. After seven weeks, 76% of participants were able to have sex, compared with 36% before the start of the treatment.
#4: Lidocaine Dosage
When using lidocaine for vulvodynia, it is recommended to apply as little an amount of cream or ointment as possible, for the shortest period of time needed to relieve pain, in order to avoid possible side-effects.
However, long-term nightly use of the medication has been shown to provide sustained vulvar pain relief.
Doctors recommend applying 2-5% lidocaine cream or ointment directly to the vulvar area, 10-20 minutes prior to any event in which you want the medication to work (like intercourse, travel, etc.). You can apply it as needed – up to even three or four times per day. It can also be used overnight. The numbing effects usually wear off after a few hours. A stronger and higher dose will last for a longer period of time.
IMPORTANT: As topical lidocaine is over-the-counter medicine and you are able to use it in any amount required, please talk to your doctor before trying it or deciding to use it for an extended period of time.
#5: Best Practices for Using Lidocaine
#6: Lidocaine Side Effects
Generally, local topical anesthetics tend to be safe, as they have little to no systematic absorption (to your bloodstream) through your skin. However, you run the danger of getting topical lidocaine absorbed systematically and suffering from lidocaine toxicity and central nervous system side effects if:
Central nervous system side effects
- Sudden dizziness or drowsiness
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in your ears or hearing loss
- Unusual sensations of temperature
Other more common side effects
- Skin reactions like severe burning, stinging, irritation, swelling, blistering, redness where the medicine was applied
- Allergic reactions like hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Skin discoloration
- Feeling of numbness that lasts longer than expected
#7: Lidocaine Interactions
Medicine used on the skin is not likely to be affected by other drugs you use. However, many drugs can interact with each other.
IMPORTANT: Let your healthcare professional know if you are taking any other prescription and non-prescription medications, or illegal, recreational, herbal, nutritional and dietary drugs.
#8: Lidocaine Contraindications and Warnings
1. If you are pregnant (or planning to get pregnant):
Animal studies did not show evidence of harm to the fetus. However, there are no available data nor studies conducted on pregnant women.
What is known, however, is that anesthetics cross the placenta and go on to fetal circulation – meaning it goes to your baby. Therefore, it is advised to postpone the use of topical lidocaine until after delivery.
2. If you breastfeed:
It might not be safe to breastfeed while using topical lidocaine. Be vigilant of any signs of possible allergic reactions in your baby after breastfeeding.
3. If you are allergic:
You should not use topical lidocaine if you are allergic to any types of numbing medications.
4. Overdose is possible:
Overdosing can happen when too much of the medicine is absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream. Overdose symptoms may include:
- Seizures (convulsions)
- Uneven heartbeats
- Slowed breathing and respiratory failure
#9: Lidocaine Discontinuation
Discontinuation of topical lidocaine should cease the effects of the medication within several hours.
I have not been able to find any information about possible withdrawal symptoms after ceasing lidocaine.
In this post, you can find general information about lidocaine for vulvodynia (specifically for a type of vulvodynia called vulvar vestibulitis or vestibulodynia):
- What anesthetics are and how they work
- How lidocaine, a type of local topical anesthetic, can help you with vulvodynia specifically with vulvar vestibulitis
- Initial guidelines including dosage and best practices on how to administer the medication
- What type of side effects you might experience while using the drug
- Possible interactions, contraindications, and warnings
Please don’t feel discouraged if you feel little to no relief while using lidocaine or if your pain will come back after the discontinuation of the medication.
Lidocaine can only temporarily relieve your symptoms, and in doing so, it’s not curing nor healing the underlying root cause of your vulvodynia nor vulvar vestibulitis. This medication also doesn’t heal your body.
Please remember this medication is not the only solution for vulvodynia. There are still other traditional and natural remedies that you can explore.
Did you find this post helpful? What other types of information would you like me to share with you?
Have you ever used lidocaine? Did lidocaine help your symptoms? Do you know of any withdrawal symptoms when ceasing lidocaine?
Share with me all of your thoughts, experiences, and questions in the comments below! You can also ask me anything directly on FB.
My goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information that is factually correct, comprehensive and up-to-date.
However, the drug information provided herein is subject to changes and is not intended to cover all possible:
- Dosage indications and best practices for usage
- Side effects
- Drug interactions
- Contraindications and warnings
Additionally, each person is different and may respond differently to the drug.
Please also bear in mind, that this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a doctor or other licensed healthcare professionals. Please, before taking any medication, consult with your health provider who knows your medical history.
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