What Is Vulvodynia?

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Today about sex, but sex when its hurts. Imagine your life if sex was so painful, you'd do anything to avoid it. This is the reality for millions of women and today we're blowing lid off a condition called vulvodynia. You may be suffering from it right now without realizing there is a name but what is happening to you.

Take a look, your sex life my never be the same. Right now, six million American women are suffering with chronic and debilitating pain in their vulvas. It's the condition known as vulvodynia. The pain can be constant, not just through intercourse, and unbearable. Some women describe it as acid being poured on their skin, or as constant knife-like pain.

It can affect a woman's ability to lead a normal life. To sit, to work, to be intimate. It can crush her self image and lead to feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Alarmingly almost 16% of all women in the US will experience vulvodynia at some point in their lives and 90% of them suffer with constant pain for many years.

Vulvodynia is a medical mystery, it is not the result of an infection or disease but there is treatment and relief if you get the proper diagnosis. Today we are firmly in the no embarrassment zone, and nothing, and I mean nothing is off limits, we are going to open this up to the entire audience, I have brought in Dr.

Jennifer Ashton, she's a gynecologist and the CBS Medical correspondent to join me in this conversation because you deal with this condition everyday. So walk me through the symptoms. Right, a lot of women will say it feel like acid is burning them and this is something that can come out of the blue, it doesn't mean you have to be born with it, it can pop up one day you fine the next day you can have it, it's a huge problem.

So let's start off with defining what vulvodynia really is because most of you probably aren't familiar with that term, am I right? So look at this traffic light, I think it's going to be good metaphor and imagine you're sitting on gynecologist table and we're going to use the anatomy from this perspective.

So the green light is the anus, the virginal opening is the yellow light and the urethra where the urine comes out is the red light, okay? The traffic light itself, the metal parts, the circles, all the squares, all those things that are mental that's the vulva, so vulvodynia is pain in that area, does that make sense? So at least we know what we're talking about in terms of what the symptoms look like.

Now is there a test to figure out if you got vulvodynia? There is definitive test but usually what a gynecologist will do when a woman complains of pain or what they should do is something very simple is called the Q-tip test, nothing sophisticated, nothing invasive, nothing expensive.

We take a Q-tip and we go around the entire area and we will ask a woman, does this hurt, how much? And that's usually enough to give us a clue that vulvodynia is gong on. The worst this though Mehmet is that a lot of doctors aren't on the look out for it, and a lot of women when they complain to their doctor that there are having this symptoms, a doctor if they don't see anything obvious will dismiss it or worse still they will say this is in your head, I don't see anything there, and that is probably the worst thing of all that only adds to the problem, we need to do in gynecology and as doctors is help find a solution.

I will be really clear about this what Jen just said is an embarrassment for me as a physician and I want to apologize for my brother about this, we're unfortunately opting court saying, hey you know what we don't know the answer therefore it's got to be on your head. Their are a number of reasons why you might have the problem, but it's not in your head, this is a real physical problem it's not a psychological issue and what we're trying to do today, is to explain why it's a physical problem what you can do physically to get around it, we all on the same page on this.

Right. So let 's go with.