I've decided to do an update for you. I hope you all enjoyed my interview with Josh. It was super entertaining and informative for me. Personally, I am monogamous, but I find the idea of non-monogamy fascinating. I do have another interview to post soon with a woman in a similar situation. She is married, yet both her and her husband have a couple of significant others outside of the marriage!! Her stories are pretty crazy, so make sure you stop by to check that out.
Now, a lot of you haven't read this blog from the beginning and therefore may not know some stuff about me. I get asked a lot why I want to go into this field. The answer is because I suffered for several years to get answers and information about my own body, and I wish that things like that could be much more obtainable.
I got my period when I was 11. I didn't know anything about it and I was too afraid to talk to my mom. I cried myself to sleep and thought something was wrong with me. Throughout the years, I suffered immensely every month. I frequently missed school and had cramps so bad I nearly threw up. I was unable to get out of bed for the first couple of days. Unfortunately, my period also lasted between 7-10 days, and I typically had PMS symptoms for about a week beforehand, meaning my period lasted nearly half a month. I was miserable. At 13, my doctor placed me on birth control to try and make it all more manageable.
For the first few years, I tried a few different birth control pills. Every pill is different for every person. One of them turned me into the angriest person alive. I snapped on everyone for everything, until one day I went into a rage and threw the remainder of the pills in the garbage.
|Generalized Vulvodynia--spontaneous, constant pain, mainly in these areas.|
I was also diagnosed with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. Basically, my pelvic floor would tighten and contract instead of relax when I needed it to. I found out it was another reason I was having so much pain and why I felt I needed to urinate so much. When you pee, your body relaxes to let out the stream. Mine was tightening, which meant that my bladder was not emptying fully. I began to do physical therapy to try and fix this. Physical therapy for PFD entails biofeedback therapy--they insert sensors inside of you and have you do kegel exercises, to test the strength of the pelvic floor. I had to measure my urine for weeks to see if my bladder was starting to empty more. My therapist would end the sessions with a deep tissue massage of the area, to loosen up muscles. None of this felt good. In fact, it was extremely uncomfortable and slightly painful. It was embarrassing. I had an amazing physical therapist who was extremely knowledgeable, and I'm thankful for all that she taught me.
My full treatment plan then was as follows--a prescription for Lidocaine (to put on a cotton ball and then insert into the vaginal canal at night, to numb the area), anti-itch cream, biofeedback physical therapy once a week, vaginal dilators (to teach the area to relax and open up), deep tissue massages of the thighs (to loosen up muscles in the area), and getting off birth control.
There are many factors that can lead to a person developing vulvodynia. My doctors came to the conclusion that the hormones in birth control were what caused my issues. I was taken off birth control at the age of 19, after having been on it a little over five years.
I lost my insurance a little after I turned 18. The next year or so after that, I ended up in hospitals frequently, with some of the worst pain and itching of my life. None of my previous treatments were working. I was also no longer able to afford my old doctors or therapy, and my trusted gyno moved out of state. I felt alone and judged again. Every time I went to the ER, I was given a STD test. They didn't believe my pain was real. So many doctors questioned the legitimacy of my symptoms. I fell into a super deep depression and barely got out of bed. I failed out of school and skipped from job to job. My anxiety also worsened during this time, which affected tons of my personal relationships.
Eventually, I found the NVA--the National Vulvodynia Association--and that I wasn't alone. I found Planned Parenthood, and was finally able to afford check ups and get medication that helped me. After about six years of being unable to afford my own insurance, I am insured again, and getting regular checkups and tests. I am happy to report that I am now mostly pain-free.
I was one of the lucky ones. I had read about surgery to replace the skin in the vaginal canal, and I had my mind set on needing it. Suddenly, my symptoms started to diminish. I don't know why, and I'm not healed fully, but I was thrilled. To this day, I still have flare ups. I have pain days and I have days where there's no pain at all! But I will never forget what I went through, and it kills me to think about other girls out there who have no one to turn to, who feel alone and depressed and in pain.
That is why I do this. That is why I started this blog and why I am going to school. I want to help people, because I know what it is like to hurt, physically and emotionally. I know what it is like to be afraid of and confused by your own body. I hear the questions people my own age ask each other about sex, pregnancy, periods, etc. and I want them to be informed--BEFORE they reach adulthood. As a society, we are not doing our children any favors by hiding information about their bodies. In fact, we may even be hurting some of them. There are fully grown, independent adults out there right now who don't know where some of their own body parts are.
In combination with my vulvodynia issues, I've also struggled with ovarian cysts. Due to more frequent cysts, my doctor and I have made the decision to put me back on birth control as a trial run. We want to see if it helps. I'm hoping it will clear up my horrendous PMS (I tend to fall into a deeeep depression where my whole body and head throb in pain in for a week before my period), as well as helping with my cysts. It may end up helping me, but I also run the risk of it bringing my old symptoms back. Only time will tell what it will do.
This, like most of my blog posts, ended up much longer than I planned it to be. So many of you have asked why I do this, and here is my full detailed answer to you. As always, I am here to answer any questions you may have. If you think you may be struggling with a disorder such as Vulvodynia, PLEASE speak to your doctor. Don't be afraid to get help for yourself.
National Vulvodynia Association
Information on Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Birth Control Options