Vulvodynia and Sex

Under Attack

Vulvodynia hits a girl right where she lives: in the genitals. The condition makes for itchy, burning, sore, and aching genitals. The painful condition is bad enough on its own, but the repercussions of trying to live a normal life and sustain normal relationships while under attack "down there" are the absolute pits.

Carolyn Halperin* of Providence, Rhode Island talked about how vulvodynia affected her marriage, "Mark* and I had been married for 15 years and we had a good thing going, both in and out of bed. Then, after our second child, I started having all kinds of aches and pains, and weird conditions. After going from doctor to doctor, I finally got the diagnosis: fibromyalgia.

Sex was Impossible

Mark's an understanding husband and he was very supportive of my medical situation. Then, I started to have pain near my vagina. It was uncomfortable all the time, but it absolutely made sex impossible. My gyno said it was vulvodynia, and that a lot of women with fibromyalgia get it. He started me on anti-depressants, and when that didn't work, he gave me antihistamines.

The antihistamines helped me get through the night. It helped in terms of the itching. Still, I had a lot of pain. My doctor then gave me anticonvulsants and I thought they worked for a time, until they stopped working.

Now, during all of this, Mark was very patient, very loving and supportive, but you know men: when they don't have regular sex, they get all cranky from all the testosterone building up in their systems. He was beginning to be kind of hard to live with. I think that we would have had to get a divorce. I'm not kidding. But my doctor came up with a temporary solution: lidocaine cream.

I'd put it on about half an hour before we made love. It didn't make for great sex. I was completely numb, which is better than pain, but not as good as climaxing, and Mark found he got a bit numb, also. For us, the main thing was the intimacy. We needed to be able to have that kind of closeness again. It saved our marriage.

Thank God, the vulvodynia has gone away and left me alone. I don't know if it will come back, but I'm trying to enjoy life while I can. It's been great to be able to reestablish our marital relationship without having to resort to topical anesthetics!"

*Names have been changed


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