Last fall the ABC News Magazine show 20/20 featured a special on the medical mystery of chronic vaginal pain. We talk to our own local and fellowship trained expert in the field who can help women who have suffered in silence for years.
One woman featured on the 20/20 special says, "It hurts so bad even a Q-Tip in that region can send a women flying off the exam table."
She is one of the 3 women who are speaking candidly about their sexual disfunction. An estimated 20 million women suffer with excruciating pain during sex, but for many of them it goes well beyond sex to everyday activities like walking and riding a bike.
ABC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Timothy Johnson says, "One of the women we spoke to went to 15 doctors, but it's estimated that women will see on average 7 Doctor's before they are diagnosed correctly."
Fellowship Trained Avera Urogynecologist Dr. Matthew Barker intends to bring that average down. He says, "You need to be evaluated by a health professional who has specific training in these kinds of pain disorders in women."
Dr. Barker says often times people who suffer with chronic pain also have overlapping problems with depression. Women with vulvodynia (or vulvar pain) may also need physical therapy. Dr. Barker says sometimes it takes a team approach, involving many specialists, to treat patients and he says that's what they do at Avera Women's Urogynecology Specialists.
Dr. Barker says, "It's becoming more socially acceptable to talk about it and that's important as women deal with chronic pain issues in the aspect that they find an outlet to talk about it and get help. It takes away anxiety and depression that co-exist when they feel there is no one to help them. That needs to be cleared up because there are people here to help them and help with their symptoms."
It's got to be somewhat of a relief to know you aren't alone and there is someone highly specialized at Avera Women's to help ease your pain.