My problems started at age 11 with my first surgery when I lost an ovary and fallopian tube to a cyst.
This was the first of many surgeries for cysts and endometriosis over the next 20 years. Endometriosis caused pain during sex. While it was an uncomfortable feeling, I became used to it. My sex life was anything but normal besides this. Penetration was never painful until I started to experience a different kind of pain, a very sharp pain I had never felt before.
My nightmare experience with sexual pain began mildly and I started going downhill in 2010. It began as mild pain during intercourse in my vulva. As time when on, the pain became worse, it felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife and burning me at the same time. Intercourse would trigger the pain and it would still burn after having sex. Nothing helped the pain or made it go away.
I didn’t know it then, but I was suffering from the excruciating pain of Vulvar Vestibulitis which is a subset or “type” Vulvodynia. Doctors did not diagnose me and told me just to “relax” during intercourse.
After years of research, I have put together some tips for women who suffer from pelvic pain to help them on their treatment journey.
What do I GOOGLE?
Unfortunately, many gynecologists are not diagnosing women correctly with pelvic pain conditions. Your first step is finding someone who specializes in pelvic pain disorders. You can used search terms such as “vulvar pain specialist”, “pelvic floor physical therapist”, “women’s pelvic pain doctor”, “vaginismus doctor” and/or “vulvodynia doctor’ to find a practitioner who can help you.
How do I tell my husband?
You can print out fact sheets of the Internet about your condition and read it with him. Many men think these conditions are made-up. To see it printed out on a document will help him understand this a very painful condition. Also having your husband accompany you to a doctor’s appointment can be very helpful. You can learn about alternative ways to pleasure each other because sex doesn’t just have to be penetrative.
Don’t Listen, but Listen
Many women believe that their doctor knows everything. This is just not the case. My doctor told me to take Advil and drink wine for four years and never gave me a diagnosis. I actually brought him the diagnosis after I found it online. If you do not feel you are getting adequate care, don’t waste your time.
I speak with a lot of women who want to try natural remedies and want to check with their doctor first. But if your doctor didn’t even diagnosis you, how is he going know what works and what doesn’t?
All I needed was vaginal dilator therapy in order to have intercourse again. They even tried to put me on an antidepressant, but I rejected that suggestion.
Bottom line: doctors all have opinions and you have to also agree with what treatments are suggested.You need to be on the same page and comfort level with your treatment plan.
Where can I learn more about my condition and find a specialist?
Patient Resources Section of the International Pelvic Pain Society: https://www.pelvicpain.org/
Bridge for Pelvic Pain https://www.bridgeforpelvicpain.org/
Find a Practitioner at VuVatech https://www.vuvatech.com/pages/vuva-recommended-pelvic-pain-specialists-doctors
What can I do at home to help?
Vaginal Dilator therapy and meditation can be very helpful at home to relax the pelvic floor. Vaginal dilators are used to regenerate vaginal capacity, expand the vaginal walls, add elasticity to the tissues, and to allow for comfortable sexual intercourse.
VuVa Magnetic Vaginal Dilators are smooth lightweight plastic, that come in a variety of graduated sizes. Soothing Neodymium magnets are within each dilator to increase blood flow and relieve sexual discomfort while soft tissue lengthens, relaxing muscles and ligaments.
You lay on your back for 20-30 minute sessions 1-2 times per day. If you meditate during this time it can really help your pelvic floor muscles relax.
Pelvic pain can be physically and emotionally draining, even thought it is thought of as a private issue, it really should be something that you should be comfortable talking about with your partner and doctors. It will help your healing journey in the long run.
About The Author
Tara Langdale-Schmidt of Sarasota, Fl. was a pelvic pain sufferer and is the co-founder of VuVa Tech
(www.vuvatech.com ), a company that helps women with sexual pain.
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