Navigating the healing process of something as complex as sexual pain can be extremely difficult and often overwhelming. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to painful sex is how the number one word of advice you will find online is simply to talk to your doctor. On the surface that seems like perfectly good advice, but what happens when your doctor doesn’t know what to do? Or worse, what happens when your doctor tells you there isn’t anything wrong, implying that it is all in your head? My response, get a second opinion—or third or fourth or fifth, as the case may be. Continue reading
Living with a disorder that causes painful sex can wreak havoc on your marriage and, as an extension, your life. It is easy to fall into negative thinking and to feel like it is your fault, at least it was for me.
Sex was always an issue in our marriage, and it seemed like it was the cause of all our problems. The sex issue caused arguments and created feelings of loneliness, dissatisfaction and alienation from each other. Even on the days when we were seemingly fighting about a completely unrelated issue, it always had a tendency to go back to the problem of sex (or at least it always did in my mind). Continue reading
Painful sex is not just your problem individually. If you are in a relationship and dealing with pelvic pain, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is just your problem to deal with. You may think that if it is your body then it must be your issue alone, but that is not true. If you are in a committed relationship nothing is ever just your problem or just his problem—whether it be painful sex or credit card debt—it affects you both.
I faced my pelvic pain as if it were my problem alone. I searched for a diagnosis, I tried different tests and treatments, I saw a sex therapist, I went to weekly physical therapy sessions, I did self-treatment at home, and I dealt alone with the emotional and psychological distress that accompany a pelvic pain disorder. Yes, I asked my husband to support me and he did in some ways, but neither of us ever faced the issue as if it were our problem. Continue reading
Something I have learned through my journey with painful sex is how important it is to share your struggles. Hiding your troubles or trying to handle them all on your own creates a burden that you are not able to carry. I know from personal experience because this is what I did throughout most of my journey. Even my closest friends and family didn’t realize the extent of my pelvic pain, the difficulties of my search for a diagnosis and healing, or how broken my marriage was.
I think a lot of why I didn’t share was rooted in pride, at least when it came to my marriage issues. I have always taken pride in my sound decision-making. I typically put a lot of thought into things and never make rash decisions. This prudence is a part of my identity—as is my independence and ability to handle things on my own. So admitting that my marriage was struggling so much was like admitting that I hadn’t made a good decision and I couldn’t handle it myself. Continue reading
Before I dive too deeply into the various lessons I have learned throughout this journey I want to take a moment to describe some of the pain I have experienced. We all experience different types and different levels of pain throughout our life, and one individual’s level 10 may be different from another’s.* I can only describe what I have personally experienced and acknowledge that there are many others out there suffering from much worse. It is very difficult to put into words and describe in a way that you as a reader can understand. I believe it is not possible to truly understand unless you have experienced it first-hand. Continue reading
Doctors are supposed to figure out what’s wrong and then fix it. At least that’s what I thought when I first started my journey to find out why sex was so painful that it would bring me to tears. It is not easy to talk about such a personal and intimate subject—at least it wasn’t for me. The Nurse Practitioner I had been seeing for my annual appointments was kind, sensitive, and female—all important attributes that allowed for me to open up about my issue. Her initial responses, although well-meant, did not help much to alleviate my ongoing self-doubt and hopelessness. I felt as though she were down-playing my symptoms when she discussed the importance of lubrication and adequate foreplay (as if all I needed was some KY to fix my excruciating pain!).
One of the best things she did for me at that first appointment was recommend a book by the Berman sisters which included a chapter about sexual dysfunction. Although it didn’t give me any real direction on figuring out my diagnosis, reading their book helped me to realize that yes, there was definitely something wrong with me (well beyond the help of decent foreplay).
Thus, the treasure hunt began.