Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Paps & Needles

Yesterday, I had my very first pap test in like 3 years (August 2011).

My very first one was absolutely terrible, and painful. The Nurse sent me home with STD anti-biotics because of the pain and inflammation of the cervix. I later came back two weeks later and was referred to a gynaecologist because she thought I might have vaginismisus.

Needless, I did not want to ever go through that experience again. But, it's been three years, and I figure I should do it and make sure everything was okay. I also wanted to try to explain the pain to the doctors as it happens --- because, despite attempting sex 4-5 times this year, each time has been painful! A burning sensation.

So... how'd it go?

It actually wasn't that bad! She did a finger test first (to find out where my cervix was and check out my vagina (I guess). And... it didn't hurt. It was discomforting, but it wasn't painful.

After that, it was the fun part with the whole scope thing. As requested, we used the little one! It wasn't too bad either, the pain got worse the longer the thing was inside, and hurt the worst afterwards (about a 4). She noted my cervix  had some white gunk on it (TMI) I know, and she had to 'clean' it off first.


She sent off a swab for yeast... Anyone have any experience with yeast and vulvodynia? I know theres some information out there, but I don't know what I should be aware of if I have to talk about the doctor about it.

So, not bad. Not the worst thing ever. If my DH's penis was as small as a finger, sex wouldn't be such a problem, obviously. For some reason that was not as bad as sex. Hopefully this is good for the long run.

Update on my Acupuncture
- Went for another appointment, had more needles/points done this time. Not bad.
TMI - Last week a boil showed up on my labia the morning after my appointment. It's still there, and rather uncomforatable.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Needles & Radish Seeds

Today I had my very first acupuncture appointment and because it was the first session, and required the consultation appointment, it took nearly two hours! Oh My!

I found myself an acupuncturist who works within a midwife clinic, and knew of my condition when I called. Two scores - she's familiar with vulvodynia and with the womans body.

The appointment consisted of intaking my medical history (vulvodynia, painful periods, anxiety) and then with the acupuncture. She walked through everything explaining how everything worked, and moved throughout the body.

I had about 8 needles today. That's all I could handle. 1 in my left hand, 1 on my right thumb, two on my right wrist, 1 on my left ankle, 2 on my left lower leg/ankle, and 1 on my thumb --- oh and the one on my head to help me relax (along with a mask and some lavender oil)

I wont lie, they hurt. They aren't supposed to be painful persay, but they do cause some sensations. A few of them hurt and she readjusted them to hurt less.

They all reacted a little different... the only in my left leg made me cry. First because it hurt like hell, but then it stopped hurting and suddenly I was crying because I felt emotional, not because I was in pain.

The cool thing about acupuncture, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, is that they do have a point related to vaginal pain. That's cool because to me, Western Medicine is having a hard time getting it's act together about how to treat this condition, mean while the Chinese have identified a specific point on your body that can help overcome that pain.

My other fun fact from my appointment, the therapist noted that Western Culture normalises pain with periods, but that's not really normal. Apparently in Chinese culture pain with periods is a bad thing, and normal is just acknowledging the need to maybe wear a pad/tampon. I'm going to blame the pharmaceutical business on that one... I wouldn't own aleeve if it wasn't so I could survive the first day of my period.

At the end of my appoinment she put some taped some radish seeds onto my ear to help with my anxiety and improve the functioning of my liver (I think). Kinda cool, but they hurt and were uncomfortable. My ears were screaming at me, so I took them of. Maybe I'll try it another time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Accupuncture for Vulvuodynia?

Has anyone tried acupuncture?

My mother is endearing and one to try alternatives when life through a curve ball. She's the one who encouraged me to check out a naturopath when the western doctors failed (thank you) and she's the one who suggests weird options and treatments (she is by no chance a hipster or woman of the free, she's pretty conventional young woman).

I've called around looking for an acupuncturist. I've left a few messages and waiting to hear back. Anyone had any luck?

Here's some articles/blogs I've been reading about the topic.

Vulval Pain Society

Acupuncture Today


and a few others I can't find...

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sharing with Strangers

I have no issues with talking about my condition, about pelvic pain. I sometimes share news articles on Facebook, and the majority of my good friends, especially female know.

I write this post today because it's dawned on me that unlike last year, my coworkers don't know. I work in a very close-knit environment. I travel nearly every weekend which means that nearly every week I'm sharing a hotel room with another woman, having dinner with the same girls, and spending more time with them than with my husband. As girls are, usually the conversation about sex, intimacy and other girl things arise, this year it hasn't and that surprises me. I'm not about to bring it up myself, but not scared to mention it if it does.

To me, this topic is utterly important, and by staying quiet I'm not helping anyone. It's important for me to share my story with friends and hopefully, if any of them have similar challenges they'll know to go talk to their doctor (not that doctors in my region are well-ennough versed on the topic to be supportive). That's partly why I've started this blog (1. To share my story, 2. to be held more accountable in my treatment, 3. to connect and keep notes)

Do you share your story? Do your friends know? Do you talk to them about it? Do they understand?

--- The strangest part, in my opinion, is that I can be totally calm and relaxed and talking about my pain and my shitty sex life with complete strange women, or with woman I only kind of know, but god forbid I have to talk to a professional about it. It's like that time I went gynaecologist last month for the very first time (let's talk long waiting lists to get), and what I did I do? I broke down in uncontrollable sobs. The same still happens in therapy, and every time I get bounced around to YET ANOTHER specialists.

Any tips on controlling the emotions?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer 2014 Reading List

I've struggled with vulvodynia for over 3 years, and about 2 years ago, I bought this massive stack of 'doctor recommended' books to read.

Have I read any? maybe.

So, here's my list of books I need to read, and understand, and maybe try. Here's to the road of recovery!

  1. When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate - linking emotions and disease, 'the physiological connections between stress and health' - my therapist has this book on her shelf, so should ve good, right?
  2. Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein - focusing on lifestyle changes to help ease pain - I'm skeptical of this book. 
  3. The V Book: A Doctors Guid to Complete Vulvovaginal Health by Elizabeth Stewart - let's talk a great foundational book. 
  4. The Vulvodynia Survival Guide: How to Overcome Vaginal Symptoms & Enjoy an Active LifeStyle by Howard Glazer and Gae Rodke - maybe?
  5. When Sex Hurts: A woman's guide to banishing sexual pain by Andre Goldstein, Caroline Pukall and Irwin Goldstein - 'provides the tools to stop hurting and start healing' - from reading other blogs Dr. Goldstein is an 'expert' in this field, hopefully he has something to bring to the table to talk to my doctors about. 
  6. A Womans Guide to Overcoming Sexual Fear & Pain by Aurelie Jones Goodwin and Marc E Agronin - this is a workbook, that I started many years ago and should really look at again
  7. Getting the Sex You Want: shed your inhibitions and reach new heights of passion together by Tammy Nelson - about improving sexual communication with your partner - my partner will be away all summer... this may be challenging. 
  8. Guide to Getting it On by Paul Joannides
  9. The Sexually Confident Wife by Shannon Ethridge - I think this is in the list because I think it would be some great information for when sex doesn't hurt, or how to be comfortable with sex. 
  10. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman - Amazon suggested this to me after I ordered all of the above. Not being able to have sex is hard on any relationship, so make it work. 
Do you have any suggestions? Anything I'm missing? What worked or didn't?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Welcome Story

This is my first blog dedicated to sharing my story about overcoming sexual pain.

My brief history....
I have primary vulvodynia starting in Fall 2010 and diagnosed in the Summer of 2011.

Spring/Summer 2011 had my first pap test which indicated a pain problem, as well as an inflamed cervix (problem unresolved or discussed by physicians).

Got married in the spring of 2012! :)

In 2012, I was referred to the Multidisciplinary Vulvodynia Clinic in Vancouver.
After 2-3 months of physio and counselling, there was little to no improvement.

Attempted physiotherapy (pelvic floor strengthening) for the first half of 2012, improvements in tension, not in pain relief.

Started seeing a naturopath in the late spring of 2013. Diagnosed with an under active thyroid. After several months settled on 185mg of amour natural thyroid.

Found a great therapist/counsellor who is supporting the psychological element of my struggle.

Finally consummated our marriage in the winter of 2014! woohoo, progress. Pain is about a 4-5, primarily a burning/itching sensation afterwards for approximately 20-30 minutes.

After a year on a wait list, visited a gynaecologist in my community, was referred to see a psychologist, and encouraged to go onto antidepressants. Took the referral, refused the drugs.

Whats up next?
Second Pap test in 3 years this July.
Appointment to see the vulvodynia physiotherapists in Vancouver at the end of August.
Continuing therapy with councillor.