Women Suffering from Chronic Sexual Pain Receive Surprising Relief in the Hands of Physical Therapists

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When most people experience the feeling of a “burning, knife-like pain” they visit a physician, and receive a diagnosis and treatment. However, women and men who suffer from chronic sexual pain often struggle for years to find a diagnosis and treatment, but there is hope for those suffering from the condition nobody talks about.

One of my patients suffered from terrible sexual pain after the birth of her child... Yet, when she addressed the problem with her OB/GYN his only response was ‘have an extra glass of wine.’

When most people experience the feeling of a “burning, knife-like pain” they visit a physician, and receive a diagnosis and treatment. However, women and men who suffer from chronic sexual pain often struggle for years to find a diagnosis and treatment. Thankfully, there is a name to the condition nobody talks about and there are treatment options. Vulvodynia and dyspareunia are two terms for sexual pain disorder. It is estimated that up to 14 million women – as many as 1 out of 5 – suffer from vulvodynia or dyspareunia. The chronic pain is often a result of severe muscle spasms, a skin condition called lichen sclerosis or lichen planus; or an unexplained inflammation that leaves a woman’s vulva with 10 times the number of nerve endings than usual. However, muscle strains, the post-partum period, and menopause all may lead to painful spasms of the pelvic floor muscles. Yet, only 30% of those suffering receive medical treatment. Thankfully, pelvic floor physical therapy may offer surprising relief.

There are many reasons for the lack of treatment, but one of the leading causes is insufficient training for physicians on the topic. Often, physicians receive only one 45-60 minute lecture on all sexual dysfunctions. Sexual pain is skimmed over at best. This lack of knowledge can result in a patient’s pain being dismissed or diminished. “One of my patients suffered from terrible sexual pain after the birth of her child. Her self-esteem and relationship with her husband were suffering. Yet, when she addressed the problem with her OB/GYN his only response was ‘have an extra glass of wine’...” Cora Huitt, P.T., D.P.T, B.C.B.-P.M.D. recalls, “The pain these individuals experience is real, debilitating, and long-lasting. Vulvodynia and dyspareunia are medical conditions that need to be taken seriously.”

Thankfully, pelvic floor physical therapists can help. Huitt’s practice Women’s Health Physical Therapy in Richmond specializes in the treatment of sexual pain. “We focus on a combination of pelvic floor and core strengthening, perianeal massage and stretching, and biofeedback techniques. We also offer an anonymous support group for women and men suffering from sexual pain,” describes Huitt.

Her treatment protocol appears to be working. About 75% of vulvodynia and dyspareunia patients leave Huitt’s care able to manage their pain or return to a semi-normal life. For those suffering from sexual pain, these odds are an incredible relief. As one dyspareunia patient describes: “When I came to Women's Health Physical Therapy I was desperate. I had not been intimate with my husband in over 3 years and every time I tried, the pain was excruciating. Our relationship was suffering, but I didn’t know what to do. I had seen my primary care physician, who had zero answers for me. I went to my OB/GYN who put me on medication after medication; prescription cream after prescription cream but nothing was helping. I finally did some research online and found out about Cora. She had a different view. Instead of just prescribing a drug to find a cure, she taught me what was wrong with my body and how to make simple adjustments with big improvements. I learned about the anatomy of my pelvic floor, and most importantly I was given the tools to empower myself and manage my pain. It was slow, but I am 85% better and my husband and I are extremely happy!”

If you or your loved one suffers from sexual pain and think it may be vulvodynia or dyspareunia, contact Women’s Health Physical Therapy for more information. Phone: 804-379-3002, Email: whptrichmond(at)gmail(dot)com.

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About Cora T. Huitt, P.T., D.P.T., B.C.B.-P.M.D. and Women’s Health Physical Therapy:

Cora Huitt has been practicing physical therapy for forty-one years. She has been an adjunct professor and clinical instructor at several universities. She is a certified women’s health specialist in pelvic floor dysfunction. Her clinic Women’s Health Physical Therapy is one of six credentialed by the American Physical Therapy Association in the United States and specializes in treating women and pelvic floor dysfunction. Cora is an affiliate member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, International Continence Society, National Vulvodynia Association and International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health. She earned her Bachelors of Science at Ohio State University, Masters in College Teaching at University of North Carolina, and her Doctor or Physical Therapy at Alabama State University.

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