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One Woman's Story

I had a yeast infection when I was 8 years old.  I did not seek treatment for many years since I did not know if this type of pain was normal, and I was too embarrassed too tell my mother.  While in high school, I saw a TV commercial for Monistat. It provided some relief, however a year later I had pain using a tampon.  I saw a several gynecologists through the following years, but they all said, “Nothing is wrong. Everything looks fine.”  For ten years, I accepted this and lived with pain. 

After college, I became more persistent about obtaining answers.  I knew that the pain was not normal since none of my friends experienced discomfort in the vaginal area.   I saw a reputable gynecologist, who decided that it would be best to perform a biopsy.  The results, she explained, indicated that I had benign polyps. When my pain continued she sent me to another gynecologist. He performed a vestibulectomy, which, he said, would remove the problem. When it didn’t, I decided to get another opinion. The next doctor concluded that I would need a hymenectomy. He felt I simply had very sensitive nerves in the hymeneal area and assured me that the pain would be gone as soon as the nerves were removed.  Six months after the procedure the area was still painful. 

At this point it seemed as though I would live with the pain forever, but I would not give up. So, finally I consulted with a gynecologist who specialized in vaginal skin disorders. She was the first who I felt really give me hope. I learned that I had vulvodynia, a neural disorder. She recommended that I try Amitryptline, a prescription medication.  She also suggested that I make an appointment with Amy Selinger. But I didn’t go since I didn’t understand why I should see a physical therapist.

After taking the medication for a couple months without any change, I decided to see Amy.  She tested my pelvic floor muscles, and found that they were very tense.  Amy explained that the pain that I had experienced for 15 years had affected the vaginal nerves as well as the pelvic floor muscles.  The muscles had become very weak and very tense, contributing to my pain.  First, the muscles would need to learn to relax. She stretched the muscles around the vaginal opening and also showed me how to stretch the muscles myself.  Within a month, the burning sensation had decreased. After seeing Amy for even that short time I felt so much better mentally and physically.  It is amazing how little the first gynecologists I saw understood my vaginal discomfort.  They either dismissed the problem, or performed a surgery.  No gynecologist had ever mentioned the role of the muscles. 

One reason I wanted to share my story is that I learned that many women of all ages have vaginal pain. Before I started improving I spent a lot of time on websites where women talked about their inability to get relief from their vaginal pain and seem to give up the possibility of ever finding a solution. I hope that my story will give some of these girls and women hope to persist in finding the solution that is right for each of them.  


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Based in San Francisco and Oakland in the Northern California Bay Area, our physical therapy offices are within easy access of San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma Counties, including and in addition to South San Francisco, Sausalito, Tiburon, Larkspur, San Rafael, San Anselmo, Corte Madera, Novato, Greenbrae, Ross, Fairfax, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Richmond, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Livermore, Lafayette, Alameda, Albany, Antioch, Brentwood, Clayton, Concord, Danville, Dublin, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Hercules, Martinez, Moraga, Newark, Oakley, Orinda, Piedmont, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, San Leandro, San Pablo, San Ramon, Union City.

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