Guest post – On the FSD hierarchy and why it hurts all of us

10/05/2010 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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[Dear internet, we have a guest poster today! The following was written by brigid, who wrote me a moving e-mail a few days ago.]

Hi, my name is brigid and I asked K a few days ago if I could do a guest post for feminists with fsd. This is the first time that I have really spoke openly about my pain, ever. I mean it’s not like no one knows that there is something wrong. If the chants of frigid brigid that I dealt with since middle school are any indication a certain ex of mine was blatantly honest with the entirety of the boys locker room that there was something wrong.

So, what exactly is it that is “wrong” with me? My fsd is caused by a condition called endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition which results in the tissue that lines the inside of one’s uterus to grow on the outside of the uterus, and the surrounding tissues. This can cause the tissues to become inflamed which can result in pain in the surrounding tissues, leading down into the vagina. I also have a condition called allen-master syndrome. This means that my uterus is hypermobile and will tilt at strange angles which creates problems for my cervix, further resulting in pain. So I am basically in pain all the time. It feels like someone is continually stabbing a hot poker into my uterus via my vagina.

Any and all kinds of sexual activity, even those that most people would say are not inherently sexual, result in increase of pain. Any kind of signal firing to my vulva and vagina causes the pain to increase. That means that things like kissing, cuddling, outercourse etc are all off limits to me. Each and every time I try any of those things I end up in agony which doesn’t go away for days and sometimes weeks on end. And don’t even think about masturbation and intercourse. I can’t even touch my vulva most days.

That brings me to the point of my post. A lot of support groups, both on and off the web do not want to recognize women with conditions such as endo as legitimate cases of fsd. We don’t have vulvodynia, vulvular vestibulitis, or vaginismus so we couldn’t possibly go through the same things as women with those conditions. I’m here to change that misconception. The term that K uses for this kind of thinking is the fsd hierarchy. I like that terminology. Because that’s basically what it is when other women with fsd say that their level of pain and suffering is more significant. No one person’s pain is more significant than any others. The levels of pain may be different. The things that one may be able to accomplish with treatment based on the individual and the condition at hand may be different, but we all have something in common. A problem which we can’t talk about. A problem which society tries to pretend doesn’t exist. A problem which for some of us consumes are lives and makes them hard to live. This is something we all have in common. Sexual activity is painful for us. That is something that should bring us together. Turn us into a united front. One which says that we will be treated with respect. One which demands research into ways to better manage our problems. One which supports each woman and encourages her to educate herself about these problems. One which encourages our partners to educate themselves about this. One which will allow all those affected to get an accurate diagnosis and a doctor who knows what they are doing instead of dismissing the pain as “something some women deal with”. I don’t think that that is too much to ask for. We should be striving to break down these barriers. We are all suffering from our problems with our sex lives. Some have it worse than others. Some choose to still have intercourse even though it is painful for them (I admit that I fall into the I have intercourse for more reasons than just it feels good camp) Some choose to be completely celibate, but regardless on your individual decisions, you still suffer from fsd. Our society tries to silence us. By playing the hierarchal game we are allowing them to get away with it. The only way that we as a whole are going to make things better for ourselves is if we talk about it, and encourage others to talk about it as well. By silencing other women who suffer from FSD just because it doesn’t fall under one individual’s narrow view of what fsd is and how it works, we are hurting every woman who needs help. We as a community need to share and embrace our differences. This will allow us to learn more about others and as a direct result about ourselves. So I encourage you today to reach out to another woman with a different type of fsd and talk to her. Share in a mutal discussion about the challenges of your conditions. I think you will be surprised to see how much overlap there really is between us all.


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  1. Absolutely! If your vagina hurts, your vagina hurts (or your vulva, uterus, etc.) Terminology should not matter. We’re all the same in that we have pain with sex; that’s the bottom line for me. And whether you have endometriosis, vulvodynia, pelvic floor dysfunction, or all three, then that means that I can get comfort and helpful information from you and you can get comfort and helpful information from me. Thanks for your post.

    • “We’re all the same in that we have pain with sex…”

      …or an unwanted lack of libido, or distressing negative associations with sex, or a physical disability that makes sex too exhausting, or…or…or…

      We’re all different, but we can all stand together and help each other. ^_^

      • I seriously don’t get why this is so hard for people to understand!!!

  2. Thanks for your post, Brigid. Endo sucks, and I can believe those kids were so mean back in the day.

    Well actually, I can believe it, but I’m so sorry it happened to you.

    • thanks. Fortunately the only people who followed me to college are people who I actually like so the frigid brigid chants have pretty much stopped. The only time they are brought up is when my friends are referencing my disease (sometimes they actually manage to do so and accept my own agency!) and how cruel people are to me about it.

  3. […] were (technically) two guest posts this week – one that I wrote at Grasexuality, and one that brigid wrote for us here; did you see them yet? I want to hear more perspectives on the themes dealt with here at Feminists […]

  4. I’ve got endometriosis too, and a little over a year ago I also developed vulvular vestibulitis. I believe that the reason for the VV is that I’ve been tensing up before intercourse, because I know that it will be painful. So the conditions aren’t mutually exclusive – and even if they were, like you say, we need to work together!

    And, like you, I’m getting the pains from pretty much any activity that causes arousal. It’s not as bad for me as it sounds like it is for you, though.

    • hugs if you would like them
      I am so sorry that you are going through this too. Life sucks sometimes. I hope you feel the best you can as soon as possible and that you find something that works for you 🙂

  5. […] post, sexual dysfunction, sexual health, social construction A couple of times on this blog, I and guest posters have briefly mentioned something called the female sexual dysfunction hierarchy. This is an idea […]

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