Vulvodynia is when you have chronic vulvar pain that has no identifiable cause. The pain can vary in strength and occur sporadically, or happen when pressure is applied to the vulvar area from doing routine things such as inserting a tampon, sexual intercourse, or a vaginal exam. As you can imagine, the effects vulvodynia has on relationships can be profound. Here is a look inside what it’s like.
Desire Succumbs to Pain
Though there are many other ways to connect with your partner sexually, being unable to achieve penetration without pain can be frustrating for both parties. Some women experience pain just getting aroused and may avoid sexual activity altogether. Many women with vulvodynia have a desire to be sexually intimate. However, the pain from doing so either prevents them from having sex overall or makes it unenjoyable. To avoid having to turn away their partner, even being affectionate is stopped.
The pain from vulvodynia has been described as acid being poured on the skin, or a dull knife-like, constant pain. It can occur in one area in the vulvar region or multiple regions.
The Lonely Search for a Remedy
Research has helped improve the detection and diagnosis of different sexual dysfunction disorders like vulvodynia in recent years. However, a woman who has vulvodynia still faces an uphill battle until she is diagnosed. Without confirmation of the symptoms she’s been experiencing, she could be dismissed as an “unwilling” partner forced to wade through advice like “have a glass of wine” or “use more lube and relax.” Diagnosis can take months or longer and involve multiple providers. Resentment can become mutual with the inability to understand and meet each other’s needs.
Sexual issues aren’t the easiest to discuss, and when you factor in pain specific to your vaginal area, it can be tough to open up to your doctor. The journey is lonely without the right support in place. Treatments for vulvodynia take time and often require trying multiple therapies before you find one that eases your symptoms. So, although there is some vindication in receiving a diagnosis, patience is still needed as you find the right approach with your doctor.
Every other area can be perfect in your relationship, but this one. Unfortunately, the path from discovery to successful treatment can leave scars, even the best of relationships may falter under. You may be able to enjoy sex again, but have no one to enjoy it with. If you are experiencing pain during sex, not only is it important that you talk with your doctor about your symptoms, but also if your relationship becomes strained with your partner. They can offer different resources to help.
To learn more about our vulvodynia study now enrolling at Women’s Health Care Research, click here, or call (858) 505-8672.