For years, women who have suffered from a chronic pain condition known as Vulvodynia have been accused of having sex phobias and told their symptoms are not real. If a doctor has happened to believe these women, they tell them nothing can be done. Gee, sound familiar?
The genital pain of Vulvodynia can be so severe that sexual intercourse can be unbearable and inserting a tampon, havinga pelvic exam and wearing a pair of jeans can cause excruciating pain.
This immensely painful chronic illness of the vulva can result in pain that is described as “shooting”, “searing” when any amount of pressure is applied. I have also read where Vulvodynia was described as someone stabbing you “down there with a knife”.
It is estimated that approximately one in six women suffer from Vulvodynia and 6% of these women start showing symptoms before the age of 25. For these, the symptoms are usually limited to burning pain in resonse to touch or pressure at the vaginal opening.
A professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University (Dr. William Ledger) who is an expert on Vulvodynia said in a New York Times article:
“It is clear that there are subdivisions of this condition – one diagnosis doesn’t fit everyone.”
Dr. Ledger has found two genetically based predisposing factors in women with Vulvodynia: women produce inadequate amounts of a substance that blocks an inflammatory response and an unstable production of a substance that normally responds to an invasion by yeast or bacteria. This places these women at an increased risk for chronic infection.
Dr. Ledger said:
“There’s good evidence that with Vulvodynia as a whole the women have more nerve fibers in the vulva and they are firing more pain signals to the brain. It’s kind of vulvar Fibromyalgia. most patients with Vulvodynia have very tender glands at the entrance to the vagina.”
Some treatments used for Vulvodynia include Celebrex and the muscle relaxer, Flexeril. Another treatment that is used is a surgery that removes the layer of tissue containing many, many nerve endings.