Sex. Makin’ love. Doin’ it. GETTING IT ON.
Whatever you call it, it’s no fun if it’s uncomfortable or painful.
There are literally hundreds of reasons we don’t do it, enjoy it, or desire it, and it would take a novel length ream of paper to go into even a fraction of them here. But when sex is painful - like, “touch me there and I will punch you in the baby-makers” painful, there are added layers of complications, not the least of which is our hesitation to talk about it.
Some genital-related pain can be alleviated and treated. Some pain specific to us (lucky) ladies and our sex lives include things like yeast infections, vaginal dryness, lack of arousal, or even something called Provoked Vestibulodynia, or PVD. PVD is a real vaginal and vulvar pain condition and it affects up to 20% of the female population - and to try to understand the pain involved is almost impossible. This medical issue HURTS. If you’ve sought medical attention and been given the all clear on yeast infection, other hormonal causes, such as breastfeeding or perimenopause, and you’ve tried enough lube to drown an elephant, and it still hurts, you may want to discuss PVD with your doctor.
Imagine not even being able to tolerate simple touch, like that required in even hygienic matters like using the washroom. Some women with PVD can have sex with significant effort, but for others, it is simply too painful to even consider:
If you have symptoms of PVD (painful to touch; uncomfortable sex with no other explanation), the most important and reassuring thing we can tell you is that it is NOT in your head. This pain is real. You should know that people who care about pain – scientifically-recognized-white-lab-coats-kind-of-people – are working hard to do something about it. Women are amazing (look at us; we’re freakin’ awesome!) and we should feel empowered in our self-care. There are proven treatments for PVD, including evidence-based psychological treatments; measures which have been proven effective in the management of PVD symptoms.
Not talking about something might work when it comes to making political commentary at a family dinner (I’m looking at YOU, casually sexist Uncle Fred), but when it comes to medical issues, never let silence win over discussion. You may be missing out on relief. If anything we’re saying here about vulvar pain sounds familiar – or if you have other physical issues you’ve never voiced to a health professional – know that you are not alone, and it is not all in your head, even if your doctor can’t see any signs of pain on an exam. Above all else, know that there are people who do care and who are working toward finding solutions.
We’re being honest, so let’s out with it: a healthy, happy sex life is a gift. Anything that gets in the way of that deserves attention, and so do you. You can read more about PVD and treatment here, and join the It’s Not in Your Head conversation on Facebook or Twitter to keep the conversation going, because the pain is not all in your head.