Echo: that pain in your vagina is NOT in your head!

If you search our archive, you will find a number of blogs discussing this topic. Although this subject has been touched upon, we continue to hear it from our patients each and every week, and not only are patients getting frustrated, but I am too. How can any practitioner, therapist or doctor see an ulcerated vagina and conclude that the pain and discomfort the woman has been suffering from is…drum roll please…in her head?

It’s not in her head…there are physical symptoms! Now, of course there is a connection between what goes on in your brain and how that translates to your body and psychosomatic symptoms, but this is not always the case. But when there is a physiological symptom, why would anyone recommend cognitive therapy to treat a raw, irritated vagina? If I broke my arm snowboarding, would the treatment be to go to therapy to see why I decided to go snowboarding to begin with…or would the treatment be to set and cast my arm? It never ceases to amaze me how when it comes to female sexuality, we forget the biopsychosocial approach and just treat the woman as an emotional creature or think psychologically she is being affected. What happened to the biological component???

Therapists can be quick to find that red flag, that ah ha moment, the root of a particular emotional response to a given situation. But most therapists work in the psychological realm, talk therapy, and I have yet to meet a therapist who can “talk” to anyone’s vagina and rid them of rawness and irritation. Although therapist’s intention is to help, I wonder if gynecologists realize how recommending talk therapy when a painful situation exists affects the patient or client.

Do these women believe it is indeed in their heads and therefore can never be cured? Do they rack their brains trying to find that one instance that caused or triggered the problem and in essence blame themselves? Many of the women I see at the Women’s Center are suffering from various issues including low desire, trouble with arousal, difficult time achieving orgasm and pain. In every category, I’ve heard a woman say, “My doctor said it must be in my head”, when there is clearly a real physical issue going on. I think that is the benefit of a place like the Women’s Center. You get the chance to work with both a sexuality therapist and a nurse practitioner who are both trained in sexual issues. So if you would like to explore your situation beyond “it’s in your head” make an appointment so we can treat all of you, not just one part.

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