dealing with pain and dysfunction



AimeeLynn (Because I’m not Competent with the Internets)

I just got the comment you left on my blog, and the pain you described sounds very familiar—a lot like the pain I experience.  I’ll tell you about what my issues are, and maybe you’ll get something out of it, I hope.

I am able to use tampons, though now I’ve switched to a diva cup (which has helped immensely, as I was allergic to commercial pads and tampons).  The cup insertion is just fine, and I am able to insert fingers or other objects okay as long as I do it carefully.  There is one spot on my left side about two inches in that hurts like crazy though, and because of that spot, I am unable to have intercourse and pelvic exams are awful.  My pelvic pain specialist determined that this was because I have little control of my PC muscles (pubococcygeal muscles, the ones you use to do Kegels) and that lack of control causes spasms when the muscles are touched in certain ways.  To remedy this, I have to do pelvic floor physical therapy.  I am supposed to go twice a week, though if you read my letter to the insurance company, you’ll know that it’s not working out.  At physical therapy, I am hooked up to a biofeedback machine by two sensors (like the sticky things they put on your chest during an EKG, if you’ve had one of those) and the machine monitors the electrical signals generated by my muscles.  There is also computer software that reads the signals and creates a real time line graph to show me what happens when I contract or relax the muscles.  The graph assigns a number to the amount of electricity—a “normal” person at rest would be about a one or two; when I am at rest, the graph shows about a 19 or 20.  Since I am so tense, it makes sex impossible (this is vaginismus, even though I am able to comfortably use a cup).  The point of physical therapy is to gain an awareness of what my muscles feel like and to learn how to relax them.  The few sessions I went to were extremely helpful, and I hope that I am able to continue (if my insurance will cover a biofeedback machine).  My specialist also prescribed a lidocaine/aspirin cream that has been somewhat effective, as long as I use it daily, no exceptions.  The problem with that is that the cream burns very badly, so it’s not exactly something that’s easy to incorporate into a daily routine.  I think that it works because the lidocaine forces the muscles to relax, and over time, I get used to it.

Anyway, that’s my story, and I hope that some of it is helpful.  Your pain does sound remarkably like mine, so definitely bring it up to a (competent and caring) doctor.  I wish you luck, and if you have any questions for me at all—I’m not shy, as you can tell—don’t hesitate to ask.

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