Shout out to my friends for bringing up “my portal to another dimension” at a party after Korento ry posted the first part of my personal FAQ. That not only resulted in some good laughs, but also revealed to me that my friends are fucking nosy and curious about what I write. Go ahead, I hope you’re reading this one as well, haha! To be honest, when it comes to this vulvodynia stuff and related topics, I really can’t be bothered to feel too shy to talk about it. If I was suffering from chronic lower back pain, nobody would bat an eye when I explain the symptoms or how it affects my life, but make it about chronic pussy pain and people suddenly lose the ability to look me in the eye when I explain how it started. I advocate for discussing uncomfortable topics, so I try to lead by example. Therefore, let’s do pt II of my personal vulvodynia FAQ! If you haven’t read pt I, I recommend checking it out first or else you’re gonna be really confused, why is this chick going into detail about her pussy pain.
1. When did it all start?
I was around 18 when I started to have recurrent UTIs (urinary tract infections) that could be triggered by as little as sitting for too long. Then a year later, on a holiday in Germany I caught a fever and got UTI symptoms, but didn’t see a doctor. Instead I just took some painkillers. Hindsight is 20/20, I should have absolutely gotten proper antibiotics, because once I was back in Finland a few days later, the infection was treated but the pain didn’t go anywhere – and anyone who’s had a UTI knows how fucking painful that shit is. So needless to say I was freaked out and miserable. This was the beginning of my pain journey. The pain has never fully left my bladder or pussy, it just took new forms and kind of spread during the time when my treatment was nonexistent.
Like I told you previously, the root cause of vulvodynia is a mystery. Some doctors say it’s in your head, others say it’s a functional issue, and a third will straight up say it’s nerve damage. That’s why though I’ve heard many share similar stories as mine, vulvodynia can also come about due to very different reasons, UTIs are not the only pipeline into it. Some say it began due to stress, allergies, uncomfortable penetration, hormonal imbalance or trauma to the tissues, but most people cannot pinpoint a clear event that triggered their pain.
2. How did you get diagnosed?
It was a fucking struggle! I bounced from doctor to doctor. One would say it’s a bowel issue that is just mirroring the pain to my genitals, another would say I have to see a gynaecologist and then the gynaecologist would say there is nothing wrong with me. Then a doctor tried to convince me I just have a hyperactive bladder even though I didn’t have issues with my bladder activity. I went through countless painful examinations when general MDs would want to perform a gyno examination “just in case”. These people had no idea what they’re even looking for! They gave me zero pain relief though at that stage my pain was sometimes a sharp 8/10. But finally, at the end of another traumatic dr visit, this woman prints me a paper about vulvodynia and it says things like “cannot be treated”, “lifelong pain” and “causes depression”. This was no diagnosis. She just told me to maybe look into it. I left and cried in my mother’s car because I was so tired and scared.
For a few years I refused to go see doctors. I felt like all they do is cause me more pain and nobody cares. I really struggled to keep up with normal life at this point. I took a gap year and went to therapy. Once I entered university, I finally thought I’m now mentally ready to face the challenges again and I just want the pain to ease. At this point I was convinced I have vulvodynia, so I just went to see a doctor and said “Hey, this is the condition I have, and I never got treatment for it. I really need some help.” I was extremely lucky that this doctor knew about vulvodynia and thus my treatment journey could finally begin.
Sadly, this is a pretty typical story for someone with vulvodynia. Doctors don’t know what vulvodynia is and thus people get gaslighted into thinking nothing is wrong with them or that they have some bladder issues. Access to proper treatment is poor and as an admin in Korento ry’s Finnish vulvodynia support group, I see new people posting all the time about their symptoms and asking can it be vulvodynia. Self diagnosis is common… When it really shouldn’t be.
3. What does it feel like?
For me, the pain can be like an uncomfortable hot or warm blanket. It can feel like you’re being poked with needles. Maybe like you’re hovering over a flame and it burns, causing you to vince. Sometimes it’s like being sliced with a knife from the inside, other times it feels like someone is pulling on my insides. It can be like an itch that never goes away, or like a sudden jolt of pain. PIV (penis in vagina) sex can feel like my skin is ripping – which btw does happen sometimes. Because not only does vulvodynia come with pain, it also comes with issues with your pH balance, dryness and allergic reactions. The skin can be left raw and painful just from wearing pads during your periods. Other times people struggle with peeing – it will feel like it’s burning or that holding it in becomes painful. So yeah, it can be bad, like, real bad. I used to even get pain attacks that would result in me being in so much pain suddenly that I can only lie down, endure and sweat until it goes away.
Luckily, not every case is this severe. For some, vulvodynia might just feel as discomfort during PIV sex or that tampons are uncomfortable to wear. But then there’s those that have it worse than I do. They can’t work, they need constant pain management and a lot of support. Maybe in the future when research advances, we can better describe the variety of ways vulvodynia presents itself, but for now in Finland the official diagnosis code is based on the patient experiencing pain during intercourse.
I’ve already written so much, I’m just gonna do one more, Q4, let’s make it spicy:
4. So, do you prefer anal sex?
You know, I always advocate for really exploring different ways your body and mind can experience pleasure. Some get stuck on the idea that the only proper way to have sex is to stick it in and call it a day and they are reluctant to even try something different. For me, sex is so much more than penetration and I love trying out new things and sensations. Whether it is some BDSM stuff or testing a toy, I’m all for it. Then if it doesn’t feel good, I never have to try it again. So I’d say I don’t have a preference for one kind of sex over another type, it really depends on my mood and my sex partner. But sure, there are times when vulvodynia limits what I feel comfortable doing. Sometimes I want nothing inside me, regardless of the hole in question, other times that’s very welcome. This can be made easier by using a bit of numbing gel on the painful trigger spots before penetration. Which is why such gels can really be a sexlifesaver to those who only enjoy vaginal penetration! (No, it doesn’t mean we won’t feel anything. It means we will have reduced sensitivity so that penetration would feel normal.)
But uh, yeah, the whole idea that someone with a condition like vulvodynia or pcos or vaginismus will automatically just want a guy to fuck them in the butt is pretty harmful in my opinion. It just further enforces the idea that sex revolves around penetration instead of pleasure. So while I get why I’ve been asked this, I also think this is one of those questions that are better left unasked.
So, that’s that. Four more questions answered! I hope it gave you some food for thought and some perspective into what kind of a condition we’re really dealing with here. And hey, if you’re one of my IRL (in real life) friends reading this, go ahead and make more jokes, I fucking dare you, ahah!
Take care everyone and stay sane,