Vulvadynia

Dear Rachel and Claire,
I've suffered from mysterious pain during intercourse for several years. The best the doctors can do is diagnose it as "vulvodynia", which is basically vaginal pain with no cause or cure. I've lived with this for some time and managed it accordingly, but lately, I've wondered if it may be psychological. During sex, the worst pain is always immediately upon penetration and sometimes will lessen or worsen. It almost always lessens when I'm using a vibrator to stimulate my clit during entry. This occurs during both vaginal and anal sex. Does this mean the pain is all in my mind or does the pleasure of the clitoral stimulation just override the pain?

Hurting for Answers

A:


Dear Hurting for Answers,


I’m sorry to hear you are suffering. There probably is a cause and a cure, but it may take a lot of searching for you to find what works for you.

Sometimes vulvar pain is a response to infection or irritation; at other times it’s a somatic response to a psychological upset. I have heard of various cures, including conscious relaxation and kegel excercises, specific pharmaceuticals (on a web search I came across a few mentions of neurontin), or work with a regular or sex therapist. I think the site Sex Without Pain has some good resources, and the vulvadynia page at Health RN (www.healthrn.com/vulvadynia.html) contains a helpful list of relevant sites.

It sounds like your doctor(s) haven’t helped you so far and that you’ll need to take the lead in pursuing a cure. You may also want to consult with alternative health practitioners such as an acupuncturist. Western docs don’t have all the answers. As far as the vibrator helping out, I think the pleasure could be canceling out the pain, or the increased blood flow to the vulva may be helping. If it works, keep doing it.

Good Luck!