Sexual Dysfunction Expert, Belinda Wurn, Speaks Out Against Painful Intercourse

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Sexual dysfunction and dyspareunia expert, Belinda Wurn, PT, discusses the prevalence of painful intercourse in women and what women and their physicians can do to better recognize and treat dyspareunia.

Belinda Wurn, PT, expert in treating painful intercourse and sexual dysfunction in women

Healthcare professionals need to be stronger advocates and initiate conversations about sexual health with their patients. Sex should not hurt and women don't have to live with it.

Over 70% of women surveyed in a large study in the 'Journal of Family Practice (JFP)' reported painful intercourse. Yet despite the high prevalence, women frequently do not discuss their sexual concerns with their physicians, according to the journal.

More than half of the women in the study also reported concerns of physical or sexual abuse, and over 40% reported sexual coercion at some point in their lives. "Experiences with abuse or coercion may explain why some women are hesitant to talk about their sexual concerns," says physical therapist Belinda Wurn, an expert in treating the physical components of sexual dysfunction and dyspareunia.

Still, many other women with no history of abuse often conclude that painful intercourse is a normal occurrence for women and do not think to complain to their physician. They simply live with the pain or become disinterested in sex.

"When sex hurts, intercourse can become a time of silent agony instead of pleasure," Wurn says. "Many women may attempt to avoid sex altogether due to the pain."

Wurn should know. After a pelvic surgery and radiation for cancer of the cervix left her infertile and in pain, she searched for years to regain a pain-free sexual life. Now the tables are turned and she is conducting and publishing research on the work that got her out of pain.

The pelvic therapy she uses addresses a wholly physical component; it is designed to decrease vaginal and pelvic adhesions that form after trauma, infection, inflammation, or surgery. Untreated, adhesions can remain in the body for a lifetime where they act like glue, tightening tissues and causing pain.

Wurn's findings have been published in several peer-reviewed medical journals, but "research is only one step in the right direction in helping women resolve their painful intercourse," she says. "Healthcare professionals need to be stronger advocates and initiate conversations about sexual health with their patients. Sex should not hurt and women don't have to live with it."

"Women might want to keep a journal to assess their pain," Wurn suggests. "They should note when the pain first started, how often it occurs, if it occurs at certain times during the monthly cycle or in certain coital positions, and if the pain occurs at the entrance or deeper within the vagina. Women should feel encouraged to discuss their journal with their gynecologist. If their doctor doesn't listen, they should find another who will."

Wurn and her husband are currently co-authoring a new book, 'Miracle Moms, Better Sex, Less Pain', to help bring these issues to the forefront of medical care.

To learn more about Belinda Wurn, PT, her manual physical therapy, or treating sexual pain and dysfunction, visit clearpassage.com.

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Amy Parker
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