This week, I’ll be featuring information on the chronic pain condition, vulvodynia, that affects millions of women worldwide. We have already talked about what is vulvodynia and the causes of vulvodynia. Today, I want to tell you how vulvodynia is diagnosed.
How Vulvodynia is Diagnosed
I can tell you from experience that it isn’t easy to get a diagnosis. Most doctors are clueless and don’t really understand this condition. Some don’t even know what it is. I have actually had a doctor laugh at me when I told him what I had. I couldn’t believe it. I think if his private area was in excruciating pain he would understand that it’s not a laughing matter. That’s just typical of the kind of care I have received…more on that in later posts.
Some women have to see countless doctors before they are told they have vulvodynia. Some may never be told at all. I was talking to friends of mine and many of them have either suffered with it and had no idea what it was or they had a family member have the symptoms but never a name for the actual pain. I was lucky that I was diagnosed quickly. It was actually within the first month. However, I was told point blank that I would “just have to learn to live with the pain”. It devastated me. I wanted to die because it was so bad and I felt like no one could help me.
Doctors first need to rule out any other possible causes for the pain like STDs, infections, skin conditions etc. I had countless swabs and cultures done and they all came back completely normal. So why was in so much pain then?
There’s something called the Q-tip test that a doctor can do to see if vulvodynia is the likely culprit. Basically, they take a q-tip and gently touch around the opening. The patient tells the doctor how severe the pain is. I nearly jumped off the table with this test. It felt like a needle being poked into me. It was just the lightest touch of a q-tip. That’s when my doctor was certain that I had vulvodynia. She told me that it usually lasts 2 to 5 years. Wrong. I am on year 5 now and still in pain.
According to a Harvard study, 60% of women consult at least three doctors in seeking a diagnosis and 40% of those who seek professional help remain undiagnosed after seeing three different doctors! The doctors really need to step up and help us women out. We are tired of suffering!
Read the rest of my vulvodynia posts.