by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

I hope the couple who are struggling with their sex life after using the NuVa ring have gotten off of hormone-based birth control altogether. Many women experience a nosedive in desire when they are on that stuff. The real way hormonal forms of birth control work (for many) is by making the woman not want to have sex. Some reading on this.

Another writes:

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the note from the fellow whose wife has pain with intercourse. This is for him or can be posted as a public service announcement. Or neither.

I’m going to guess that his wife has vulvar vestiblitis. I, unfortunately, know a lot about this condition because I was born with it. It can absolutely mess with your head, especially when you discuss with doctors (as I did) and they suggest it’s mental and suggest psychotherapy. At my worst, I thought I was frigid and should let my husband go.

How is this woman trying to recover, I wonder? I hope she’s not just waiting it out and going it alone. Once I got a name for my condition (eleven years after I realized I had a problem), I went on a mission: I researched my guts out, found a doctor who specializes in vulvar pain, read "The V Book" by Elizabeth Stewart, and charted my symptoms. I also found an immensely helpful online support group.

For what it’s worth, I discovered that the pill killed my libido and made everything worse and that my symptoms peaked when my estrogen levels dipped. Use of Estrace, a topical estrogen cream, got me about 80% cured. I’m now at closer to 90% thanks to, of all things, childbirth.

Others have found success with Neurontin, certain types of anti-depressants (for physical, not mental reasons), testosterone cream, biofeedback, capsaicin cream, and others. There's even surgery as a
treatment of last resort.

Maybe this couple are doing/have done all of these things. But in case they haven’t, they should know that there is treatment and information out there, and that physical problems of this nature can lead to mental ones. It's a vicious cycle of misery.

Finally, sympathy goes a long, long way. It would be most helpful if while the wife seeks treatment, the husband takes intercourse off the menu and focuses on other ways of pleasing and being pleased. “Sex” means more than a single act. My gut instinct is that forgoing monogamy is not the solution to this couple's situation: it sounds like what they need is a good doctor and a good couples’ therapist to unpack years of damage.

I know this isn't what the thread is about. But whenever I sense that a secret and shameful medical condition is causing such misery, I start making PSAs.

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