I have been meaning to do some research on the relationship between vitamin D and DIV for a while now -- ever since a website visitor emailed me to tell me about how her symptoms had improved with vitamin D supplementation. Part of the reason I've been putting it off, is that it seemed like a bit of a project, but it turns out that there is not much in the way of research out there -- at least that I've found -- so all that procrastination was for naught. I've found just two publications on the topic and together they describe only five women. The small sample size should probably come as no surprise given how rare DIV is, but, gosh -- is a sample of 5 even statistically significant?
The first is Peacocke et al (2008). This paper describes one woman who had low vitamin D levels and who suffered from DIV. She was cured with a therapeutic program of vitamin D and calcium citrate. They used 50,000 IU weekly of vitamin d and 1000 mg of calcium carbonate daily with cholecalciferol 2000 IU.
The second is a description by Peacocke et al (2010) of 4 women with low vitamin D levels, with DIV and with Crohn's disease. The women had an improvement in DIV symptoms when their vitamin D levels returned to normal range.
Why is vitamin D important for a healthy vagina? The authors suggest that vitamin D is critical to the generation of healthy vaginal cells and that vitamin D deficiency results in "loss of epithelial structural integrity and desquamation" (Peacocke et al 2008, 75). Desquamation (shedding of cells) is one of the hallmark symptoms of Desquamative Inflammatory Vaginitis (DIV).
I haven't found any other research specific to DIV, but I did see some articles suggesting that Vitamin D supplementation for women with low vitamin D levels may reduce the occurrence of bacterial vaginosis (BV)... and then some articles saying oooh, never mind, vitamin D probably doesn't reduce BV after all.
Perhaps the jury is still out on this one.
Whether or not it helps DIV, it seems prudent to bring low vitamin D levels up to normal range just for the other benefits (like bone health) so I think I will ask for a vitamin D test at my upcoming annual exam.
I have DIV, vulvodynia, and vaginismus. When I have low moments, I often wish for some kind of community of support. For that reason, I have created this blog. I have some posts here about my own experiences, but what I'm really hoping to do is post stories from other women (from YOU!); your story of your diagnosis, your treatment, and your life with DIV (and/or vulvodynia, vaginismus, lichen planus, etc.). If you would like to share your story, please hop on over to my contact form on the home page and send me a note.