T.S. Age 32 – Brisbane
My pelvic pain started when I was approximately 20 years old and literally came from “out of the blue” as I was pain-free during my childhood and adolescence. At the time, I was in a committed relationship and had been having pain free sex for a few years. It started as a niggling soreness after what I think was a thrush infection that progressively became more and more debilitating.
When I think back on my early twenties, it is all a bit of a blur of tension, worry and confusion as I vacillated between trying to ignore the pain and pretending nothing was wrong, to visiting countless doctors to find a solution. I went to approximately 15 medical professionals in search of answers. As a young woman, I was extremely stressed about the situation and hid it from my partner and family for quite a long time. I assumed I had somehow contracted a STD as that was all I had heard about in regards to problems in that area. I was tested for everything under the sun and the tests always came back negative, which was reassuring but also confusing as the pain continued. The pain became so bad that I could not wear jeans and would wince when I sat down. It either consumed all my attention or was always at the back of mind if I was attempting to concentrate on something else. My whole pelvic region became extremely sore and I experienced urinary tract infection symptoms as well.
Of course there were a number of sympathetic doctors who tried to help but I was also told by many to “just relax and it won’t hurt as there is nothing physically wrong with you” and one urologist said “you must have been sexually abused and I can’t help you unless you admit it to me”. I tried anti-depressants, numbing cream, long-term thrush treatments and steroid creams but nothing helped. I went to elaborate lengths to avoid sex with my boyfriend and all of this stress eventually took its toll and the relationship ended. I have always been a little socially cautious because I have hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating due to an overactive sympathetic nervous system) but in general I was a confident and sociable young woman who appeared on the outside to be “normal” but inside I was falling apart and became teary and withdrawn at home and I often cried myself to sleep.
I became obsessive about my personal appearance as an attempt to “mask” what I thought was a deeply flawed individual. I often felt like I was living a lie as I went about my everyday life. I developed irritable bowel syndrome and began having panic attacks. When I look back on this time of my life I am amazed that I managed to graduate with a teaching degree, maintain my friendships and work part-time as in private I was in a highly stressed state all of the time.
A doctor recommended I see a dermatologist to see if they could diagnose a skin condition as the opening to my vagina often did look a little red and inflamed. The dermatologist couldn’t find anything wrong but she mentioned Marek Jantos who was a specialist in the area of Vulvodynia. I contacted him and commenced treatment. The diagnosis of my pain being related to muscular tension made complete sense to me and I began to feel hope that I could at least manage this problem and get better. I lost contact with Marek as I began to feel better, the pain lessened and became more manageable on a day to day basis. I combined the exercises with other minor treatment strategies such as bicarb soda baths, cotton underwear, loose clothing and barrier cream and when I met my husband we were able to have relatively pain-free sex.
As time wore on and I became complacent with my exercises the pain began to return and has recently become so bad that sex is impossible although I feel relatively comfortable if sex is not had. However, my earlier experience with the condition has changed my personality and I am now easily stressed and prone to anxiety. My whole body is often sore and exhausted as I am in a constant state of tension. My leg muscles, neck and shoulders in particular often ache with tension and are shaky.
I was relieved to learn that I would need IVF if I wanted to have a child as the thought of conceiving one naturally seemed impossible to me. I had a baby girl in 2009 and chose a caesarean birth as I feared any activity in that region would be risky to my new found relatively pain-less existence. Pain associated with sex has taken a massive toll on my libido and I have become very disinterested in sexual activity because I have such negative associations with it. After much discussion with my husband (who is supportive but a sex-free marriage is of course not his or my preferred way to live) I decided to contact Marek again. I am so glad I did. He explained what we would need to do and that I would benefit from intensive treatment at his Adelaide clinic.
I have just returned from a follow up session with Marek. Now, a week after returning home from my intensive training in Adelaide I was very pleased to have significantly reduced sensitivity. This weekend, I was able to achieve pain-free sexual intercourse with my husband for the first time in a very long time. I feel very positive about the future, and know that with regular exercises and maintenance techniques, I have a much fuller and comfortable life ahead of me.
I have found Marek and his colleague Sherie to be absolutely wonderful in their professionalism, knowledge and bed-side manner. I can’t thank them enough for all the work they have done with me as it has given me a new lease on life.