Unfortunately, many women who experience painful intercourse suffer for months, even years, before finding relief. Many women persist with having painful intercourse in silence, some not even telling their partners, because they keep hoping it will get better on its own. Often, when women do seek treatment they feel that their concerns are brushed aside, leaving the visit only with an instruction to ‘use more lubricant’ or ‘have a glass of wine and relax.’
This is especially true for women with what we call ‘hormonally induced vestibulodynia’ or, in other words, pain at the entrance to the vagina caused by birth control pill use. These women are typically young – in their 20s and 30s- and often have been able to have pain-free intercourse in the past. Arriving at the correct diagnosis and treatment plan can be very emotionally challenging for these women and they frequently have seen several medical providers and been treated multiple times for yeast or bacterial infections before the cause of the pain is identified and appropriately treated.
I have had several patients mention the first episode of the podcast ‘Bodies’ in which the podcast’s creator, Allison Behringer, details her journey as she seeks treatment for the painful intercourse she begins to inexplicably experience. It’s very well-done and thought-provoking. If you or someone you know suffers from painful intercourse and is using the birth control pill, I recommend that you listen to this episode.