First Book Focusing on How "The Secret Pain Women Won't Talk About" Affects Relationships

For an estimated 15-20 million American women, sex hurts. Most suffer in silence because they are too embarrassed or ashamed to speak of it. Symptoms can include burning, stinging, or stabbing pain in the genital area, urinary urgency, irritable bowel, low back pain (and many more), any of which can prevent women from having, or enjoying, sex. For the first time, a new book brings this taboo subject out of the closet, giving voice and hope to those who suffer … and those who love them.

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Secret Suffering: How Women's Sexual and Pelvic Pain Affects Their Relationships

Boca Raton, Florida (PRWEB) June 30, 2009

For an estimated 15-20 million American women, sex hurts.

Most suffer in silence because they are too embarrassed or ashamed to speak of it. Many have no diagnosis. Symptoms can include burning, stinging, or stabbing pain in the genital area, urinary urgency, irritable bowel, low back pain (and many more), any of which can prevent women from having, or enjoying, sex.

While women experience the pain physically, it's both they and their partners who suffer from its effects, which create confusion, guilt, frustration, low self-esteem, and a diminished quality of life. The conditions that cause persistent severe discomfort between the mid abdomen to mid thigh (classified by doctors as chronic pelvic pain) constitute an under-reported epidemic of pain and shame that is destroying the fabric of relationships.

For the first time, a new book brings this taboo subject out of the closet, giving voice and hope to those who suffer … and those who love them.

"Secret Suffering: How Women's Sexual and Pelvic Pain Affects Their Relationships" (Praeger, May 2009) is the first to tell the story of how sexual pain affects the lives of women and their partners, often in their own words. It also provides information on cutting-edge research and effective treatment strategies.

According to Susan Bilheimer, co-author with gynecologist and pelvic pain specialist Dr. Robert J. Echenberg, "I spoke with many people who would never have openly discussed sex before their problems began; however, now that their lives had been taken over by this seemingly demonic force, even the most prudish had no compunction describing sensations in this most private part of their bodies, or graphic details of their sexual experiences.

Dr. Echenberg added, "This disorder is far more common than the public realizes. The female pelvic region takes a great amount of punishment including childbirth, injuries from competitive sports, surgical trauma, and the high rate of physical and sexual abuse endured by countless women in our society. The resultant issues of chronic pelvic pain have been shrouded in shame and secrecy, and those afflicted feel isolated and depressed. Many lose their relationships, jobs, and some, even the will to live."

Interviewee "Jane F." was one such woman, "I became hysterical about the pain and when my husband got home from work one night, I fell down on the floor and just begged him to kill me because I couldn't do my job, I couldn't be a wife, I couldn't take care of my child, and there was no reason for me to go on."

Bilheimer has great empathy for the women and men with whom she spoke because she is a pelvic pain sufferer herself. As a patient as well as an author, she incorporated her own experiences along with those of the many couples she interviewed. In addition, Bilheimer interviewed experts on the subject, including the late Dr. C. Paul Perry, Dr. C. Lowell Parsons, Dr. John Steege, Dr. Daniel Brookoff (who also wrote the foreword), Dr. Karen J. Berkley, and Dr. Judy Kuriansky. Christin Veasley, Associate Executive Director of the National Vulvodynia Association, participated as an expert and patient.

"Secret Suffering" also explores the effect of sexual pain on relationships with family, jobs, school, friends, and the medical community because these symptoms are not confined to pain during sex, or even to the sexually active, and can be experienced by girls and women of all ages. Further, "Secret Suffering" addresses the effect of sexual pain on same sex relationships and contains a chapter about men who are afflicted.

Experts in the field agree this work is needed. According to Jill Osborne, President of the Interstitial Cystitis (IC) Network (IC is a common form of pelvic pain triggered by the bladder), "Until now, very few patients talked about their experience … Susan has been a driving force in creating this book and, partnered with Dr. Echenberg, now offers hope and encouragement to millions of women struggling with this condition … I can't say enough about this book. It's at the very top of books I will be recommending to patients struggling with IC and intimacy."

Lisa Martinez, Executive Director of The Women's Sexual Health Foundation said, "Susan Bilheimer and Robert J. Echenberg, MD, FACOG, have brought to our attention the challenges and severe frustrations of those with chronic pelvic pain. Secret Suffering will help women and men overcome many of those challenges and not feel so alone in their efforts to overcome such debilitating pain."

An Amazon reviewer and patient had this to say, "'Secret Suffering' has been a bridge for my family and friends to understand better what I have been going through. It's hard enough for me to understand, but thanks to this book, I can now relate with other patients and learn more about my body and how it works. It's a must read for the patient, partner, or friend. Don't miss it."

"With the divorce rate skyrocketing, and millions of women suffering in silence, it's time to bring the 'secret' out of hiding, and provide hope, help, and support to couples who suffer," Bilheimer says.

Dr. Echenberg agrees. "With 'Secret Suffering,' we want to contribute to the growing community of patients, families, doctors, and researchers demanding that the cloak of silence be lifted and the issues surrounding pelvic and genital pain be taken seriously by the medical community."

Click here to read more about the book. For more information, to obtain a review copy, or to set up an interview, contact:

Susan Bilheimer, co-author, and founder of the Secret Suffering website
Phone (tollfree): 888-241-1461 or 561-372-1119
Fax: 888-241-1461

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