This Painful and Unknown Vaginal Condition is Destroying Women’s Sex Lives!
We may think we know everything about our vaginas, but it’s clear we don’t. There’s a condition called vulvodynia, which based on a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, one in 12 women experience the condition’s symptoms of sharp, burning pain at the opening of the vagina. It can be chronic or happen at least once in a woman’s lifetime.
Through a small qualitative study done by researchers at Oslo and Akershus University College and University of Oslo, eight heterosexual women ages 23 to 32, revealed how vulvodynia affected their lives, mostly when it came to sex and relationships.
A woman married for 12 years was never able to have sex with her husband. Another woman ended up breaking up with her husband because the pressure to have sex was too great. The two women in the group who were single were reluctant to dating.
“They really want to have sex; they feel that they’re missing out on something that they hear others talk about, something they’ve rarely or never experienced themselves,” said Karen Synne Groven, PhD, one of the researchers conducting the study.
Another researcher, Gro Killi Haugstad, PhD, said of the women, “These women are young, and [at] the age when you are expected to experience big things sexually, and so much is written about how fantastic this is. They are extremely disappointed; it is such an enormous disappointment to realize that they can barely be touched.”
A major problem when treating vulvodynia is it’s misdiagnosed as a yeast infection and women are sent home. Vulvodynia’s cause is not yet known, but is believed several yeast infections can lead to chronic vulvar pain, but they are not the same.
Dr. Groven says one of the worst misconceptions about this condition is the pain women feel being “in their heads,” when “the pain is very real,” she says.
“And it [the pain] is very specific. These women can find areas that are more painful than others. They describe it as a burning, prickly pain. There might be something here that we don’t see or detect through medical tests and examinations,” added Dr. Groven.
No cure for vulvodynia is currently available, muscle relaxation can be an effective treatment as well consulting with a physiotherapist or sexologist, or even surgery, if the pain is severe enough.
To find out more information, check out the National Vulvodynia Association’s website.