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The Topic is Vulvodynia

Posted Sep 25 2008 12:00am
I've been suffering with vulvodynia -- aka chronic, unexplained crotch pain -- for almost two years. In fact, our anniversary is October 2. The couple months leading up to October 2, 2006, I noticed that things were feeling kind of odd down there. I had some very low-level pain that suggested to me that I needed to drink more water. You know, "maybe I'm getting a bladder infection (UTI)."

On October 2, 2006, the pain descended on me in full all at once, and I thought I had finally gotten that UTI. Only the pain wasn't like past UTIs -- it didn't have me rushing to the bathroom; it just hung around all the time, hurt worse when I moved, when I peed. I chugged water, got antibiotics, but the pain stayed. I went to the urgent care clinic fearing for my kidneys, and the doctor told me I probably had Chlamydia. Looking back, I think, if only...

Repeat ad nauseum. Finally, June 2007, after innumerable doctors, irrelevant diagnoses (UTI, yeast, bacteria, neurosis, just-need-an-oatmeal-bath), and too much time in the stirrups, I visited my mom's gynie who told me right away that provided all cultures came back negative, I had vulvodynia.

I had read about vulvodynia. I was devastated.

Vulvodynia, doctors theorize, has many possible causes, most of which remain unproven. Vulvodynia has no sure-fire treatment, and it's chronic. Sometimes it goes away by itself, but many women march on for years under it. I was 26 when my vulvodynia started; some women are even younger. Some have never had pain-free sex. Vulvodynia was next to cancer on the list of things I didn't want to hear.

You can't understand chronic pain until you've had it. I've tried endlessly to relate my experience to those around me, seeking sustenance in empathy that only a few special people have been able to provide. I hope that by writing my experiences here, I will add another voice to the issue and provide some community for others who suffer alone.
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