What is Vulvodynia (sometimes the cause of Chronic Pelvic Pain or Chronic Pelvic Pain Symptom)? (Ellen’s* Story”)

Ellen used to be a happy, active woman. She has two children, a loving husband and a stable job. Ellen used to look forward to starting her day every morning; however, things gradually changed about 3 years ago. She started feeling a burning on the outer portion of her vagina after placing a tampon or after intercourse. Over the course of a few months, the symptoms got progressively worse. She could barely work at the office because the burning was constant when she sat in her chair for too long. She used to love to swim every morning, but became afraid that a bathing suit could make her symptoms worse. She became so uncomfortable that she could not even think of having intercourse with her husband. This made her feel guilty and responsible for the new tension that was building in their marriage. In fact, she felt this problem was destroying her life and it had become all that she could think about throughout her day. She had trouble sleeping or doing any of the activities that used to give her joy.

Ellen’s first gynecologist treated her with a long course of medicine for a “bad” yeast infection but her symptoms did not get better. In fact, the creams made the area feel worse. After a series of other tests and cultures, a second doctor told her there was “no medical reason for her symptoms” which made Ellen feel awful. Finally, Ellen scheduled an appointment to see a gynecologist who was an expert in treating vulvodynia (sometimes the cause of Chronic Pelvic Pain or Chronic Pelvic Pain Symptom). Ellen felt relieved because the doctor was able to identify the symptoms of vulvodynia and had the knowledge of what was available for the treatment of vulvodynia. The doctor explained that she was experienced in treating vulvodynia (sometimes the cause of Chronic Pelvic Pain or Chronic Pelvic Pain Symptom) and explained the alternative ways for the treatment of vulvodynia. In addition, the doctor suggested that she see a psychiatrist with a similar expertise in the treatment of vulvodynia. Ellen went to a women’s mental health specialist and together they came up with a treatment plan to address the impact the symptoms of vulvodynia had on Ellen’s emotional wellness, lifestyle and relationships. Ellen’s provider coordinated her treatment with the gynecologist in order to optimize her therapeutic plan and the treatment of vulvodynia.  Ellen felt significantly better over the next few weeks and her family saw a noticeable improvement. Ellen was back to herself, a happy woman who embraces the start of each day.

What is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is chronic vulvar pain lasting at least 3 months without an identifiable cause. As many as one in six women may be affected by vulvodynia at some point in their lives. The specifics regarding the location, constancy and severity of the pain varies among those who suffer the symptoms of vulvodynia. Some women experience pain in only one area of the vulva, while others experience pain in multiple areas. Burning is a very common symptom.  No one really knows what causes vulvodynia; however, there are methods of treatment of vulvodynia that can help relieve the pain. Because chronic pain can disrupt a woman’s daily life, vulvodynia can cause mental health problems such as low self esteem, poor sleep, anxiety and depression.  In addition, the stress and tension associated with the symptoms can lead to vaginismus which is a spasm in the muscles around the vagina. Vaginismus can make having sex painful and difficult to impossible for some women. Therapy can help you learn to cope with the stress associated with vulvodynia and the impact it has on your daily life and relationships. Sexual counseling can provide support for a woman and her partner.

For a consultation with Dr. Naomi Greenblatt about vulvodynia and the impact it has on your emotional wellness and relationships, call The Rocking Chair at (201) 308-5325.

* Pseudonym