2010 a retrospective

01/01/2011 at 1:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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So long, 2010! Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, ‘cuz I don’t want ass prints on my new door!

2010 is finally over. It was a difficult year for me filled with many changes and much instability. Ten people that I personally knew died in 2010; I was close with three of them; one of them was only my age (still under 30.) The political climate in the US (where I live) continued to shift towards the right-wing, particularly the extreme right-wing towards the end of the year. The US economy continues to be shit even though I have heard economists proclaim the recession to be officially over. In the last quarter of the year, I went through two major life transitions, much needed and long overdue, which culminated in the largest change I have ever gone through. Since I’m still trying to maintain a level of anonymity, I can’t explicitly state what the big change was. It’s sufficient to say that  I can never return to the old normal I once had, but at this point I wouldn’t want to anyway. Still, my life remains in a state of flux. Phase 3 of my major life change starts today, though phase 3 will be intangible, long and drawn out, and less major… basically consisting of adjusting to all the newness I am surrounded by.

With phase 2 of my life upheaval over, I can now turn my attention back to other areas, such as this blog. Sexual dysfunction is still real, it’s okay to have sexual dysfunction, it’s okay to want and/or need help with your sex life, and it’s okay to be a feminist yet still have sexual dysfunction. We may not see female sexual dysfunction covered in mainstream news for awhile, but that doesn’t mean FSD is going to disappear into the ether. (At least, not for me it sure isn’t; yours, if you have any at all, may resolve, but I still face a long road ahead.)

We got a lot done in 2010 – we here talked about a lot of different topics and explored some different perspectives on FSD. I would like to extend a special thank-you to all guest posters and contributors who participated in this blog over 2010 and 2009. Did you see the following 2010 guest posts and contributions?

Guest Post – On the social construction of sex
Guest Post – 10+ years with vaginismus
Guest post – Heteronormativity and FSD
Guest Post – On dealing with doctors
Guest post – On the FSD hierarchy and why it hurts all of us
Guest post: GUILT, FAILURE AND A PRE-ORGASMIC FEMINIST
Guest Post: Interview with Elizabeth on Asexuality
Feedback reconciling BDSM and painful sex
Feedback understanding the difference between BDSM and painful sex
BADD 2k10 – sexual dysfunction as disability
Female sexual dysfunction discussion Bingo!
Guest blogging: Reaching out to the asexual community (I did some guest posting too.)

Some other posts I wrote and am particularly proud of in 2010 on Feminists with FSD in 2010, as arbitrarily chosen by me (Not in any particular order):
Statistics and FSD – Part 1 of 2 – In which we examine that famous study that said something like 43% of all women in the US have some form of FSD.
Statistics and FSD – Part 2 of 2 – Don’t miss part 2! I think of it as a follow up to that 43% study. For some reason this follow up never generated the same number of views as the original, which bums me out.
Picture post – Antique prophylactics [NSFW] – People really liked this funny picture post! Someone even offered to buy the antiques off of me but they’re not truly mine to sell.
A 5-part series in which I read all of Sex is not a Natural Act and Other Essays by Leonore Tiefer, which came highly recommended and presents a social construction critique of sex and female sexual dysfunction. My opinion remains unchanged: The book was not enough to convince me to take an exclusively social construction perspective; it’s filled with disabilist statements (It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!) and it creates unique problems of its own which merit further examination.
Edit 1/7/11 – Oh what the heck, throw this one up there too: Book review: A New View of Women’s Sexual Problems – because if anybody suggests that I read this in 2011, I beat you to it. We did that already. Same conclusion as the above book review.
Symbolism, archetypes and stereotypes: What experts have said about vaginismus – You want to talk about the symbolism behind sex fine let’s go and do exactly that.
Book review – The Camera My Mother Gave Me – I thought it was a good review.

Television programs that addressed vulvovaginal pain conditions in 2010:
Dr. Oz – Vulvodynia
Dr. Oz – Vaginismus
Strange Sex on TLC – Vulvodynia – I can’t find a video of the segment so here is a transcript instead!
Chelsea Handler responds to Dr. Oz winning a television award (Warning: you’re probably not going to like this one. Proceed with caution… But on the bright side, there’s 3 serious videos on that same page, right after the Chelsea Handler one, which are more comprehensive and informative about vulvodynia. You might like those.)
Action News – Vulvodynia
MTV – True Life: I Can’t Have Sex Vaginismus, vulvar vestibulitis, pelvic floor dysfunction; did not explore overlapping conditions.

Wow. I’m impressed with the quantity of media coverage (though not always impressed with the quality,) and that’s just what I know of. I can’t decide which one I like best, the Dr. Oz coverage or the MTV coverage. The weird part of the Dr. Oz video for vulvodynia was using a traffic light analogy. I would have gone with one of those plush vulva puppets instead.
Drop links if’n you saw more about pelvic & vulvovaginal pain conditions in 2010!
Strange Sex also covered restless genital syndrome, aka RGS aka PSAS (persistent sexual arousal syndrome) or PGAD (persistent genital arousal disorder.) The video was here in 2010 but I’m not sure if it’s still up. And you still have to register to get that far.

Biggest FSD controversey topic of 2010: Flibanserin and hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD.)
In 2010, pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim moved forward with plans to gain FDA approval on flibanserin, a drug that started out as an antidepressant but that, in drug trials, showed a small but significant change not on mood but on women’s sexual satisfaction. As the FDA hearing date approached, media and blog coverage of this topic increased. However what the great flibanserin debacle of 2010 reveals the most about FSD, isn’t the drug or its development or the long arm of big pharma. There’s that, yes, and I have no doubt that much of the media coverage we saw was yet another form of marketing. What was revealed but went unexamined in most mainstream media coverage can be found in the comments about HSDD, FSD and flibanserin. In comments and sometimes in the articles themselves, negative, patronizing attitudes towards women with FSD are made clear. I mean, look at these piles of bullshit people say and think (Trigger warnings):
The ugly things people say about FSD Part 2: Electric Boogaloo
The ugly things people say about FSD Part 3: The Redeadening
Good grief. And it just went on like that in some fashion on other blogs and news outlets, resulting in the FSD Bingo Board (linked to above.) But misogyny and disabilism isn’t limited to HSDD. Trigger warning re: [Trigger warning] all the troll comments that Chloe’s article in response to MTV’s True Life: I Can’t Have Sex received on Salon.com. There is something going on with, I think all forms of FSD, where it isn’t acknowledged as a valid experience and diagnosis. When it comes to FSD, it doesn’t matter what kind of FSD we’re talking about; everyone is an expert except for the women who live with it.

Speaking of trolls, heads up: as of the end of 2010, there is still some guy going around targeting V-blogs, YouTube Videos, articles about dyspareunia, etc., and spamming them up with troll comments – Usually the same exact troll spam copied word-for-word, or slightly modified. If you’re maintaining a V-blog and get a weird, deliberately ignorant comment about vaginismus from an IP address that traces back to the Philippines, then that’s the guy. See, this is the crap you have to deal with when you write frankly about life with FSD! Here are some short entries with links to other entries about dealing with trolls, from a feminist perspective: GeekFeminism and FF101.

Reminder: things Feminists with FSD is not:

  • A medical advice blog: It’s possible that some commenters and/or guest posters have medical qualificatons, but I don’t. Do not ask me for medical advice because I probably don’t have any new information for you and god forbid I give you the wrong information, and just make things worse.
  • An agony aunt blog: I am not here to give you dating, relationship or general life advice for the same reasons listed above.
  • A news blog: I make an attempt to keep abreast of FSD news but I have a life outside of blogging and I’m not a journalist.
  • Making any money. I haven’t figured out a way to fairly monetize the blog. Full disclosure: to this day I have earned exactly $0 from blogging about the intersections of feminism and sexual dysfunction.
  • The final authority on FSD – I’m a feminist blogger who has sexual dysfunction. I have my own opinions which may not match your own. Although I certainly hope that as someone who actually lives with the topic of interest, you would give some extra consideration to what it is I say. I’ve been through quite a bit already. I hope you would also question anybody who claims to be the final boss of FSD.

Is Feminists with FSD a sex blog? I don’t know; I’ve said elsewhere that I consider myself to be more of a lack-of-sex blogger. We talk about sex and sexuality! I’m even open to reviewing sex toys in the future. But it doesn’t come easily and my experiences are fairly limited (though many sex bloggers likewise strive and struggle to put out good quality posts, so it’s not like sex blogging is easy, either.) And then there’s times where sexual problems aren’t elusively sexual problems. Problems bleed out and overlap. They stain. If this is a sex blog at all, then certainly it’s a different kind of sex blog.

And so, as 2011 begins, I see that there is still much work left to do. We’re not done here. I have not yet begun to fight so it’s a good thing I’m still not burned out.

I’ll be catching up with my RSS feeder and working on new posts over the next couple of days. Won’t you join me on this journey? I cannot do it alone.

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Notes on MTV’s True Life: I Can’t Have Sex

12/07/2010 at 9:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Last night, December 6, 2010, at 10pm EST, MTV aired the season premiere of the television show, True Life. The episode was titled, “I Can’t Have Sex.” To produce this program, the show crew followed three women around over the course of several months and presented the impact of chronic pelvic pain conditions on their sex lives.

I watched the episode on television and I took notes. There’s a lot of things going on with and around this episode!

First, in case you missed it, MTV.com has the full episode available for viewing, now! This is what you’re looking for! I do not know if it will remain online indefinitely or if it will be removed in the future, but if you missed the episode here is a chance to catch up to it. It’s 42 minutes long. No subtitles available on the online version. Here is a brief summary with a link to the video. MTV has posted this follow up feature: True Life Check-ins. The follow-up article contains links to helpful resources.

Full disclosure: I sort of “Know” two of the women who were featured in this episode, because Tamra and Tali both maintain blogs. I do not know if Tess maintains a blog. Tamra’s blog is Living with Vulvar Vestibulitis. Tali’s blog is The Rambling’s of an IC Patient. I have not met anyone in person (that I know of) who was involved in filming this episode. But still, I feel a little weird posting about the episode at all, since I can apply a name, a face and a blog archive to two of the women who were on TV. It’s also weird because I have some of the conditions which were examined on the show.

Here is some of my notes taken during this episode, fleshed out a bit:

This is the first episode of MTV True Life that I have ever seen, so I went in not knowing what to expect. I rarely watch MTV and I tried to ignore the commercials that aired between segments. I was anxious about how the show would be edited and whether there would be any commentary provided by a third party. I’m still anxious about how the episode was received by a general audience. The sound to my TV was cutting out for a second at a time here & there so I was having a hard time hearing at some points.

The episode features three 20-something year old white women over the course of several months – Tess (self-diagnosed with vaginismus,) Tali (the episode focused on pelvic floor dysfunction but she has overlapping conditions which were not all given screen time,) and Tamra (diagnosed with vulvar vestibulitis and, later, orthopedic issues.) Chronic pelvic pain is an invisible condition. You would probably never guess from a first impression that these three women were dealing with chronic health problems unless they chose to disclose such information to you. Tamra, Tess and Tali are currently in, have previously been involved in, or are interested in heterosexual relationships. They are all unmarried and do not have children. We saw Tess and Tali’s boyfriends (at the time of filming) on this episode and MTV followed Tamra around on a date and to a social event. All three live in the USA. Except for the introduction to the episode, there was no narrator. That means that everything you heard, was spoken by the women or those close to them. Of course I’m sure MTV did some creative cutting and editing of the material collected. Filming wrapped up awhile ago, so there have been updates and changes in the womens’s lives in the interim between filming and the airdate.

Actual, proper terminology was used throughout the show. Chronic pelvic pain conditions were named, but some conditions that overlap were not mentioned at all (interstitial cystitis, for example, was not explored in this episode. This is a shame – interstitial cystitis is another misunderstood condition which would benefit from careful media coverage.) This episode focused on the impact of chronic pelvic pain on the women’s sex lives. And that means that while you could learn a little about life with chronic pelvic pain from this episode, for a clinical discussion and details on specific conditions and available treatments, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

We see some of the treatments that Tess, Tali and Tamra tried. A dilator kit on television, a TENS unit, a visit to a sex toy shop (Babeland) to pick out a comfortable lubricant. Psychological therapy, and pelvic floor and intra-vaginal physical therapy. (Several scenes where Tali received physical therapy with Isa Herrera looked familiar to me and Herrera talked about muscle tightness which was and remains a problem for me. It was just weird seeing someone else in the same position I had to spend so much time in.) Injections of anesthetic to the pelvic area and oral painkillers. Ice packs as needed. But I didn’t see anything about diet modification or alternative therapies like acupuncture.

Although sex and sexuality were the focus of this episode, MTV did show how chronic pain and anxiety can bleed out into other, non-sexual areas of life. Sometimes, like in Tamra’s case, pelvic and vulvovaginal pain is not limited to sexual activity. This was downplayed compared to the sexual aspects of pelvic pain, however. Because this is a blog about sexual dysfunction, I was okay with the sexual aspects of life with chronic pain for the episode – especially since I’ve been on this kick lately where I want to hear women talk about their own experiences with sexual problems. But keep in mind that if you do have chronic pelvic pain, there may be a lot of issues going on at the same time besides sexual problems. Or it may all be connected.

For example, there was one point in the episode where Tamra was speaking with a therapist. It was an emotional scene. But I thought that the therapist was misinterpreting Tamra’s concerns. Maybe it was just the way the editing was put together but during this scene, I thought that Tamra’s concerns included sex, yes… but they also went beyond relationships and sexual pleasure. However that that is what the therapist seemed more interested in. In this scene, I thought the therapist’s priorities did not match Tamra’s.

Tess was in a 5-month relationship with her boyfriend at the time filming began. She had not been able to have intercourse with him and was upfront with him. She picked out a dilator kit that came with an educational booklet and talked to a therapist to help address her anxiety.

Tali experienced the onset of her symptoms at age 17 and has seen 24 doctors. She was in a relationship with a young black man, Boom, at the time of filming (they have since broken up.) Remember, Tali’s blog is titled, “The Rambling’s of an IC patient” – yet this episode did not talk about IC at all.

Tamra was a student and the episode featured her giving a speech about vulvar vestibulitis in front of a whole bunch of people, as part of a women’s & gender studies class. Hmmm. Tamra had been in a sexually active relationship before developing what would be diagnosed as vulvar vestibulitis (her condition has since been re-examined.) She talked openly about how pain was making it hard for her to date and enter relationships – and pain made hard to enjoy other activities, like dance.

Viewers saw some of the relationship tension that Tali and Tess had, at least as far as their sexual problems went. If there were other problems in their relationships beyond sexual problems and anxiety, that was downplayed for this episode. Tess mentioned to her therapist though, that a previous boyfriend had said abusive comments to her. I thought it was interesting how Tess and her therapist involved Tess’s partner, Antonio, in her treatment for anxiety. Tali’s physical therapist also demonstrated some therapeutic techniques to Boom. (I wish I had had this opportunity to do the same with my partner; however we were in a LDR at the time of my physical therapy.)

Tess and Tali showe improvement with their favored treatments. For Tess and Tali the episode ended on an optimistic note. By the end of the episode, the two couples, Tess and her boyfriend, and Tali and Boom, were having sexual intercourse following the therapies they chose. But for Tamra, she was still dealing with a lot of pain in the end, and with a new diagnosis and the possibility of surgery. She had a labral hip tear and this may account for a lot of her pain. (She has been writing about this on her blog for some time now.)

Overall, I liked the episode. I thought it was good and I am shocked with the amount of time that these topics received. A whole hour-long television show, which works out to over 40 minutes?! Here I was scrabbling around for 2 to 7 minute clips! But there’s always room for improvement. This episode could have given much more airtime to Tali’s related conditions. Any airtime, really, for IC and lichens sclerosus. Just name them, even. In the future, a television program or other media outlet could do a whole episode or article about life with chronic pelvic pain and focus on areas besides sexual activity, because there is so much to life with pelvic pain. But there is that sexual aspect too… Was sexual pain sensationalized in this episode? Hmm… No, I don’t think so, I thought it was pretty frank. It was focused on sex, yes, but realistic to me. The editors certainly took the show in a certain direction. But it definitely wasn’t sensationalized like a recent segment on vulvodynia that aired on a local news channel. And pelvic and vulvovaginal pain was not treated like a huge joke (although Tess and her friends did laugh nervously when discussing vaginsimus.) There was no narrator for this episode and it did not feature an interview with say, a gynecologist, so no one was able to go into great detail about what causes pelvic pain and what treatments there are.
Future programs like this could also take steps to be less hetero-centric, and could actively reach out to more nonwhite women. (For example, years ago producers of the television show Oprah reached out to women of color for an episode about pelvic pain – an episode which has never aired.) And I’m surprised that the episode didn’t list some resources or URLs to information about chronic pelvic pain during the follow up with each of the interviewees. Resources such as the National Vulvodynia Association, The Interstitial Cystitis Association, and The Interstitial Cystitis Network.

So so far, in 2010, there have been a few depictions of vulvovaginal, sexual and pelvic pain, and each of these depictions have been different. There have been strengths and weaknesses with almost all of them. And I’d like to see more topics like this covered going into 2011 and beyond.

Reminder: MTV’s True Life: I Can’t Have Sex airs tonight

12/06/2010 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Reminder: Tonight, December 6, 2010, MTV’s True Life series will air the episode titled, I Can’t Have Sex. This episode is meant to address chronic pelvic pain conditions, such as vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis. This will also mark the season premiere of the show. As you can see from the title, it’s expected that the episode will look at how these painful conditions impact patients’ sexuality.

Check your local listings for exact details. I expect it to air at 10pm EST.

TV listings to check for what time it airs: MTV’s schedule
Zap2It.com
(TV listing website) (type in your zip code to select the service you’re using)

Don’t know yet if MTV.com or Hulu will be simultaneously streaming the episode online. I’m hoping it’s available online in full after the television premiere because I don’t have my VCR here to record & rewind the episode when I take notes tonight.

If you will be in the Manhattan area, consider stopping by The Back Fence for a premiere party and fundraiser. Funds raised at the party will benefit pelvic pain organizations including The National Vulvodynia Association, The Interstitial Cystitis Association, and The Interstitial Cystitis Network.

We don’t know what it’s going to look like in the final product. Not even Tali Keteri herself knows what the full episode will look like in the end. A video word of caution from Tali Keteri.

MTV, we’re counting on you to do this right. Crossing my fingers…

Vaginismus and biofeedback on Dr. Oz

03/15/2010 at 6:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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What this? Dyspareunia appearing on television twice in three months? On the same show? I think we’re on a roll here, people. Or at least Dr. Oz is. Well sort of, anyway.

Sometime in March 2010, the television show Dr. Oz aired a short segment on vaginismus, and on March 8, the segment was added to the Dr. Oz website. Click the link to see for yourself. (No transcript available @ this time.)

Vaginismus is condition in which the pelvic floor muscles, including the muscles in and around the vagina, tense up. This tension can be occasionally uncomfortable in and of itself if you’re aware of it as I am, but more frequently, it can cause pain if you try to insert an object into the vagina while the muscles are tensed up. That means that it can make PIV sexual intercourse painful, or prevent it altogether. The pain & prevention of certain acts involving the vagina isn’t limited to hetero sex though – you may have difficulty with pelvic exams at the gynecologist’s and with using insertible menstrual products like tampons and cups.

Unlike a few months ago when Dr. Oz did vulvodynia, this time he did not have a representative from a vaginsimus awareness organization on the show. Perhaps this is because there is no such nationally recognized vaginismus organization (that I’m aware of,) as there is with the National Vulvodynia Association. There are patient-led organizations, treatment clinics, support groups, and doctors prepared to address vaginismus, yes. But for some reason Dr. Oz did not have anyone from one of these groups on the show to talk about it. Instead, he called a random audience member, Ronnie, onto the stage.

I think it is no coincidence that on this episode, without the direction of someone experienced in dealing with vaginismus, it was treated more flippantly than vulvodynia was a few months ago. Vaginismus was compared to panic attacks, localized to the pelvic floor.

For some reason, this comparison generated a lot of laughs in the audience.

I don’t understand that comparison. While I struggle with general anxiety, I have never experienced  a bona fide panic attack, so I cannot compare the two. My understanding is that panic attacks are acute episodes of intense fear and terrifying sensations. For me, the pelvic floor tension is a chronic problem, though it may be made worse in anticipation of penetrative activity. I’ve heard comparisons of vaginismus to a blink reflex, but this is the first time I’ve heard it compared to a panic attack. At one point, Dr. Oz compared vaginismus to a back spasm – this makes more sense to me intuitively, but a back spasm and a panic attack are not the same thing.

What really bothered me about comparing vaginismus to a panic attack though, was Dr. Oz’s & the audience’s reactions – laughter. What part of a panic attack is funny? What part of vaginismus is amusing? Sex and pelvic floor problems must be a laugh riot to anyone who’s never experienced them, har-de-har-har. This laugher could have been prevented or addressed by Dr. Oz, but if he said anything to the audience about the seriousness of the situation for people who are bothered by vaginismus, (and I don’t have any reason to believe that he did,) that part didn’t make it to air.

Dr. Oz showed Ronnie and the audience a computer-generated animation of what happens during a pelvic floor spasm. The muscles of the pelvic floor around the vagina and rectum draw in, making entry difficult, painful or impossible.

Dr. Oz focused briefly talked about possible causes for vaginismus, starting with physical, tangible causes for vaginismus – notably infections and menopause. I’ve experienced pelvic tension from infections – stress and physical discomfort. He also briefly noted “Psychological causes,” but did not detail what some of these causes may be. (I’m uneasy about framing vaginismus as a purely psychological problem, as it manifests & can be treated physically. Nonetheless psychosexual counseling may be appropriate for some women with vaginismus. I’ll pass on that though…) This few-second crash course in causes of vaginismus was disappointing. More detailed lists of possible causes (the experience will vary from person to person,) is available on several websites, such as the list on vaginismus.com or the Vaginismus Awareness Network.

Dr. Oz then moved on to possible treatments for vaginismus – or rather, only one treatment, biofeedback. On the one hand, I was glad to see biofeedback for vaginismus covered in great detail, as I’ve had a positive experience using it, and it’s non-invasive. It is also an option for treating vulvodynia, on the caveat that not all vulvodynia patients benefit from it. But on the other hand, that only one treatment was covered in detail is another drawback, as he did not talk about other therapies available, such as at-home dilator use, counseling, physical therapy (which can be combined with biofeedback,) botox, or just leaving it alone and not seeking treatment. Biofeedback is not readily available to everyone who may be interested in it; trained professionals prepared to show patients how to use it may not be local, and even when it is an option, there’s a risk that it can be prohibitively expensive – the equipment setup shown on the Dr. Oz show isn’t cheap!

Dr. Oz showed Ronnie an insertible biofeedback sensor, to be used vaginally. Dr. Oz pulled Ronnie over to an examining table, although this being a mainstream daytime TV show, he did not demonstrate using the probe on Ronnie. Instead, as a stand-in, Dr. Oz proceed to demonstrate how to use a biofeedback device using external sensors intead, applied to Ronnie’s arms. The camera panned over to a laptop with biofeedback software running on the screen and…

…Wait a second… that looks familiar… wait… Huh?!

Woah!

Wait a second – I know that software! Wait, that white box that the wires are attached to – I know that thing! I think that’s the same setup we used at my physical therapist’s office. I recognize the interface. I believe that this biofeedback device is from the Prometheus Group. (It’s probably way out of price range for patients, so if you’re thinking about getting that set up, you’ll probably be better off looking for an alternative. I think that setup is really designed for clinical settings rather than at-home use.)

Oooh… I know exactly what’s going on there! Allow me to explain (TMI alert!!!):

Essentially, biofeedback shows you when your muscles are tensed and when they’re relaxed. My physical therapist taught me how to kegel efficently using biofeedback, although Dr. Oz never uses the word “Kegel” on the show. One of my problems was, since my pelvic floor was basically always in a state of tension, I couldn’t relax it on my on at first. I didn’t know what that felt like. The graphs from the biofeedback software showed me the difference between tense and relax states. I was pretty bad when I first came in – a tense and relax state had almost no difference in graph height. Eventually, I got better at it, and learned how to spend more time in a relaxed state, so the peaks and troughs displayed on the graph became bigger. Keeping the pelvic floor relaxed is still a struggle for me, since I must have spent years in spasm or near-spasm, but it’s better than it was.

If you’re apprehensive about inserting something into your vagina, especially in a clinical setting, don’t worry – You don’t necessarily need to insert a vaginal sensor in order to practice pelvic floor biofeedback. As an alternative, there are external sensors that stick to the skin instead. I have never used the insertible probe, I have always used external sensors for pelvic floor biofeedback. These external sensors can be applied to muscles around (not inside) the vagina, and with proper training the external sensors can be just as effective as the probe. External sticky pads are used once and then thrown away.  I felt absolutely no pain or discomfort from the external sensors. Wires connect the disposable sticky probes from you, to the white box, to the laptop.

Possible drawbacks to the external sensors are: They can be tricky to apply to the right spots, aren’t super-sticky (may fall off after awhile, but you’ll probably be done by the time that happens anyway,) and they don’t work when wet. (That means if you dilate while the external sensors are attached, be careful to keep them dry – don’t let lubricant get on them.) Nonetheless, they do work, and they do their job well.

Whether you go with the insertible probe or external sticky pads, the sensors measure muscle tension, I seem to recall the units of measure were in microvolts. There is a moving graph on the computer monitor. It will refresh every few seconds. When  your muscles tense and relax, the lines on the graph react in kind – more tension, the line on the graph rises. Relax, and the line on the graph falls. Eventually you learn the connection between the stuff on the computer screen, and what you’re feeling, so you learn how to control those muscles.

This particular software shown on the Dr. Oz program also has an audio feature. Once every few seconds (your PT can program the interval,) a voice will say “Work,” and you’re supposed to tense the muscles of interest on purpose. When the voice says “Rest” a few seconds later, you’re supposed to relax as much as you can. The graph will tell you if you’re on the right track.

The software on the show also has a save feature, so you can monitor your progress over time.

“Why are there two graphs?” For pelvic floor biofeedback, most of the sensors were attached to the muscles around my vagina, and one sensor was attached to my abdomen. So one graph measures your pelvic floor tension, one graph measure the abdominal tension. This is because when pelvic floor patients first learn how to tense & relax those pelvic muscles, they may be incorporating the abdomen muscles more than necessary. You don’t necessarily need to have both graphs on at the same time though.

I may be making this all sound more complicated than it actually is. When you’re actually having it done it makes sense, at least, after awhile, and so long as your therapist is well-trained.

At the conclusion of the biofeedback demonstration, Dr. Oz briefly mentioned that it can be used to learn how to relax in general. He also advised that vaginismic patients ask their OB-GYN about biofeedback. It’s not bad advice but… unfortunately in practice, for some reason, there are still gynecologists who do not know what vaginismus is or how it can be treated. There are still gynecologists who frame it as “All in your head, have a glass of wine and relax.” If you think biofeedback may be right for you, and your current gyn refuses to or is unable to help you, you may need to seek out another doctor, or you may need to seek out a different treatment, if you want one at all.

Overall, while the segment did biofeedback justice, I would have preferred to see vaginismus in general given more detailed coverage, or, to have seen the title for the segment changed from “Vaginal panic attacks” to “Treating vaginismus with biofeedback,” which would have been the more accurate title. The audience laughter was inappropriate and insensitive.

This coverage of sexual pain leaves much room for improvement.

Tangent Tuesday: Animation

03/02/2010 at 8:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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That’s one fluffy off-topic post, coming right up, as promised because I need a bit of a break. Well some people post YouTube music videos, some people post pictures of landscapes… Let’s try this and see how it goes over. We shall return to our regularly scheduled vagina blogging shortly after these messages:

I have never outgrown my love of animation.

I grew up watching Saturday morning & weekday afternoon cartoons in the late 80’s all the way up through the 90’s. I fully expected to lose interest in or to become embarrassed by my love of animation as I grew older, but it just never stopped. And much to my own surprise, animation grew up with me. As I matured, so too did many cartoons. Animated shows aimed at adults required  a more sophisticated level of writing (if not art) and dealt with contemporary topics.

That’s not to say that all animation is inherently good – or sophisticated. A lot of it is neither. Anyone with a few reams of paper & a pencil can put together a rudimentary flip-book, in which anything can happen – including acts of extreme violence and prejudice. Mainstream cartoons including (but certainly not limited to) Family Guy and Bugs Bunny have had reprehensible moments. And nowadays, with computers becoming more accessible, almost anyone with the right hardware & a little patience can learn how to throw together a Flash animation using little more than cut-and-paste pictures and some background music.

But for the most part, creating animation that makes it to television and the big screen is still out of reach to laypersons such as myself. It’s put out by a few well-recognized names & producers, who still have armies of animators scribbling furiously in studios (or not, as advances in technology have the potential to reduce team sizes.) Depending on the style of the show, it can take anywhere from a few hours to several years to crank out animation that lasts more than a few minutes.

Yet, despite the increasing accessibility of animation tools & software for laypeople, and perhaps partly due to the oligarchy of mainstream animation, it is still, like Hollywood, very much a boy’s club.

Who do you think of when you think of notable figures in the field of animation? Not necessarily individual animators, although you do get bonus points for being able to memorize the names of numerous staff members of animation studios.
But when it comes to producing animated content, just off the top of my head, I can name:

  • Matt Groening
  • Matt Stone & Trey Parker
  • Mike Judge
  • John K.
  • Don Bluth
  • Brad Bird
  • Seth MacFarlane
  • Hayao Miyazaki
  • Genndy Tartokovsky
  • Seth Green
  • Terry Gilliam
  • Peter Chung
  • Aaron McGurder
  • Walt Disney
  • Chuck Jones

The list grows if I include web animators and comic artists. So many different styles, so many different golden ages, different themes, different tools and technologies used to produce their work. Some of them no longer do the drawing themselves but are still involved in directing or producing currently running progams.

If you take a look at the list of notable animatiors on Wikipedia, you will find that the majority listed there consists mostly of men. Maybe this is a bias by the writers of Wikipedia.
Or maybe not. Maybe, much like the realm of political cartoons and business upper management, there are still very few women in the field.

Even I, for all my love of cartoons, have to dig deep to name women involved with animation. I can do it but I’m ashamed to admit that even I have to beat my brain to remember them, and even then my list comes up short… and that breaks my heart. Why don’t I know more women in animation?

  • Rumiko Takahashi – Not necessarily an animator herself, she has been behind many Manga series, some of which have been adapted to anime; her work includes Sailor Moon, Ranma 1/2, and InuYasha, among others.
  • Naoko Takeuchi – Creator of the manga Sailor Moon, adapted into anime. [edit 3/8 – my bad.]
  • Suzie Templeton – won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Short Animation for her take on Peter & the Wolf. It”s a pretty good film, a little scary, little weird, but good. Short… only about a half hour. No dialog either, theoretically so you can listen to it in any language.
  • Marjane Satrapi – illustrator of the graphic novel & director for Persopolis.

There are other ones out there, listed on the Wikipedia page, and others I had to actively search out.

Unapologetically Female also provides a list of some individual women who were involved with animation studios in the ’40s. Unfortunately this list is tempered by a rejection letter from Disney Studios which claimed that women were not involved in the creative process.  PBS provides a short blurb. There’s a blog for Women in Animation.

I have some concerns that the relative lack of women in animation could be related to often questionable content produced and the relative lack of women characters in animation. Or perhaps relative lack of women involved in animation historically has simply repeated itself over and over. This phenomenon isn’t isolated to animation; there are very few women writers on several mainstream comedy shows, even though there are some female late-night comedians, such as Chelsea Handler. It’s probably no coincidence that these shows with little diversity behind the scenes often produce content which plays on sexist (and more…) stereotypes.

Likewise, there are ~relatively few women main characters in animated shows. (For the purposes of this post, I’ll be focusing on “Good” characters rather than Villains, as an in-depth analysis of antagonists would merit its own post.) They exist, definitely, and I know that there are children’s television shows designed for young girls (which also merit a feminist critique.) But so many lead characters in mainstream animation shows are boys and men. The first examples of women in animation that come to my mind are the wives & mothers of the main male characters. They stay home and support their families, which is great, but not an option for many women in real life. Don Bluth produced the Secret of NIMH, in which a female character, Mrs. Brisby is the lead and she has many adventures in her efforts to protect her family – aided through the actions of her late (and supernaturally intelligent) husband.
One exception I can think of however, is Peggy Hill, Hank Hill’s wife, who works outside the home. The family seems none the worse for her activity.

The damsel in distress is another recurring motif in classic animation. This is a popular and long-lived theme in Disney films especially, such as Snow White and repeated ad infineum. On shows influenced by Sentai (think of Power Rangers, etc.) there may be mixed sex teams but on the teams I can think of women were usually outnumbered.

I am less familiar with children’s animated programs currently running. As an example, I haven’t had much exposure to shows like Misadventures of Flapjack beyond the title and maybe a few minutes of program snatched here and there.

However I can think of female characters in animated roles besides wives and mothers. Detective Eliza Maza from Gargoyles and her predecessor, the reporter April O’Neil from Ninja Turtles are links to the surface world. Coraline of the eponymous book and film was unfortunately somewhat de-powered in the movie with the addition of Wybie. Kim Possible, Sandy Squirrel, the PowerPuff Girls. Leela from Futurama (and Amy) are both critical to the progression of the long-lived series. (I believe that Futurama needs an in-depth feminist analysis. It’s begging for one, especially after Wild Green Yonder.) Faye Wong and Radical Edward form half (or 2/5, if you count Ein,) of the crew of Cowboy Bebop.

I might be able to name more women characters if I watched more cartoons, I suppose. They are not the only thing I watch, and they must now compete with a subscription from Netflix. I am glad that there are many exceptions to my first impressions. I’d like to see more..

I’m sure there’s more… I fall well outside the target demographic for many of the cartoons children watch now. Most of the current programs on television came well after my time, and other activities compete for my attention, so I cannot watch all shows at once. Still, I’m anxious to see who will be producing animated casts of characters in future programming, and what the show content will consist of. I have a feeling it will be more of the same – a very mixed bag with a few rare gems.

The Dr. Oz vulvodynia video link

01/13/2010 at 6:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Just a quick update to the vulvodynia on TV related posts: Dr. Oz’s website finally uploaded the video about vulvodynia, so if you’re still searching for it and winding up here, follow this link, it’s what you’re looking for.

If you’re still interested in reading my summary & analysis of the video & an article accompanying it, that’s still over on this blog. I have also added the video link there. Thank you.

The post Dr. Oz vulvodynia discussion

01/11/2010 at 8:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Edit 1/13/10 – Now with 100% more video link!

Earlier this afternoon, Monday, January 11, 2010, the Fox television program Doctor Oz ran a segment about vulvodynia, a chronic pain condition of the vulva which can interfere not only with sexual activity, but with daily activity. There have been several other programs which have dealt with vulvodynia in fiction and in real life. Dr. Oz may not be the first member of mainstream media to talk about vulvodynia, but he is the first to impress me in the way his show handled it.

Let’s try to get on the same page.
Dr. Oz’s show website: Doctoroz.com
The video segment in question, with accompanying article: When Painful Sex is Something Serious [When is it not?] (Also, I can’t get a video to play; I don’t know if there is one? Edit 1/13/10 – Dr. Oz’s website uploaded the video today! I saw the show by tape recording it with an old VCR.)

This… Wasn’t bad. In fact, I would say this televised segment on vulvodynia…
Was surprisingly good. Not perfect, mind you; there’s always room for improvement, but this was a significant improvement from what I’ve seen before when the media talks about vulvodynia. (Remember Sex & the City? Or Private Practice?) This is probably the best handling I’ve seen so far, and I hope that this improvement in media coverage of vulvodynia becomes a trend.
For example, when 20/20 ran a segment on vulvodynia in August 2009, the show spread awareness of the condition & gave a brief overview of what’s involved – but it left out a lot of important information. Notably, the diagnosis was never spoken aloud, and the show placed a very strong emphasis on the sexual dysfunction aspect of vulvodynia. For some women, vulvar pain bleeds out into other areas of life besides sexual activity. One other problem I had with 20/20′s handling is that, one of 20/20’s companion discussion pages on the internet went to far as to censor words like “Vagina.”

Let’s recap & review…

Dr. Oz hit the ground running and although the segment on vulvodynia only lasted only a few minutes, a lot of ground was covered. Notably, Dr. Oz actually used words like “Vulvodynia” and “vulva.” 20/20 shied away from explicit but medically correct terminology. Dr. Oz did not confuse the words “Vulva” and “Vagina” or use them interchangeably.

This television program pinpoints the number of US women dealing with vulvodynia to some 6 million, and explicitly claims that 16% of women will deal with vulvodynia at some point during their lifetime. (This figure is about in line with other percentages I’ve seen dealing with chronic vulvar pain; for example the Goetsch study found about 15% of patients visiting a gynecological practice met the criteria for vulvar vestibulitis.)

Dr. Oz himself seemed particularly interested in the sexual dysfunction component of vulvar pain, but he did not overly fixate on it. At several points during the program, Dr. Oz or his guests pointed out that the vulvar pain can leak out into other, nonsexual areas of life – including sitting and working. Dr. Oz also mentioned that this can be a devastating condition to live with; some women experience a loss of self-confidence or become depressed. (Of course, a notable absence is that, some women do not experience distress from living with vulvodynia.)

Dr. Oz and another guest doctor on the show, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, talked about what vulvodynia is and is not (Hint: It is not an infection or disease,) and what some of the potential causes are. Drs. Oz and Ashton talked about what it feels like – “Acid,” “Burning,” “Knives,” etc. And they said that vulvar pain can happen at any time, seemingly from out of nowhere. It’s possible to be fine one day and not fine the next, or you could have pain problems gradually.

The strangest part of Dr. Oz’s show was the traffic light analogy. I suppose Dr. Oz had to use an abstract symbol in place of a vulvar anatomy diagram because this is a daytime television program… but remind me now, hasn’t Oprah brought plush vulva puppets onto her show the topic is sexual health & pleasure? Why Dr. Oz used this traffic light analogy, I’m not entirely clear. It didn’t seem critical. We could have used a different object, but whatever.
The traffic light analogy is this: Think of an ordinary traffic stop light as a metaphor for the vulva. The green light at the bottom is the anus, the yellow light is the vulvar vestibule, and the red light on top is the urethra. The entire light, including the metal casing, is the whole vulva. “Vulvodynia is pain in that area.”

There’s no set diagnostic test for vulvodynia, so doctors rely on a q-tip test. A doctor will take a q-tip and lightly touch around the whole vulva. If the patient has a pain reaction, it’s a warning sign that she may have vulvodynia. (The q-tip test alone may not be enough, as vulvodynia remains a diagnosis of exclusion.)

The causes for vulvodynia mentioned on this television show are a little different from what 20/20 went over, but still causes that I’ve heard before, and so not completely out of the blue –

  1. Genetics – for example, if you or a relative have a history of problems with inflammation, there may be something happening in your cells.
  2. Yeast – the theory being that chronic yeast can lead to other long-term problems.
  3. Pelvic floor weakness – such as pelvic floor dysfunction in my case; if the muscles weaken & shorten, it may trigger pain (How this works is not explained.)
  4. Trauma, such as injury.

Now, these may not be the only causes of vulvodynia; which one of these causes did I have? I don’t know, and I will never know. Although I have pelvic floor dysfunction, which came first – the vulvodynia or the vaginismus? The possibility of a hormonal component in the development of vulvodynia was downplayed except as treatment – in the form of topical estrogen. We’ll get to the show’s treatment coverage shortly.

One of the guests on the show was the National Vulvodynia Association director, Christin Veasley. (Has her title been upgraded? When she appeared on 20/20, she was the associate director.) She appeared on the 20/20 program as well; however this time around she was able to provide more details on her history. Christin’s vulvar pain came on suddenly, a few years after an accident, and she dealt with chronic pain not just limited to sexual activity; it limited her activities & what she could wear. She eventually married, had surgery, and went on to have intercourse and children. She’s feeling much better now, and in fact her recovery was fast- she was having intercourse within two months of surgery! It took me two years to reach that point! (Although for me it is harder to have intercourse at all, being in a long-distance relationship.)

Dr. Ashton pointed out that the surgical approach, which I myself have taken, is controversial. It’s not right for everyone and may be reserved as a last resort.

Here, Drs. Oz and Ashton go over four non-invasive treatments – another big improvement over the 20/20 special, which covered only surgery, hormones and physical therapy. Here, the Dr. Oz show covered:

  1. Biofeedback – Re-training the pelvic floor with the aid of a computer
  2. Physical therapy – Emphasis on massage
    (Really, Biofeedback & PT can be used together, and so could have been lumped into one treatment possibility. But it’s possible to do them separately too.)
  3. Topical estrogen – May restore elasticity to the vulvar tissues
  4. Anesthetics – Both Dr. Oz and Dr. Ashton were apprehensive but not entirely closed minded about prescribing anesthetics, since they numb the area. The trade off is that numbness is counter-productive to experiencing sexual pleasure. Dr. Ashton felt numbing agents such as lidocaine, may be appropriate for “Mild to moderate,” or “intermittent” vulvodynia.

Dr. Oz’s second guest Lisa developed vulvodynia about 20 years ago (!) after a few years of pain-free sex – she was 23 at the time, and very upset when she was told she’d never have the same sex life she had enjoyed up to that point. Here another possible treatment is mentioned – antidepressants. The type of antidepressant Lisa used was not named – for pain management, I’ve usually seen tricyclics used, not SSRIs. And for Lisa, her dose must have been relatively high – still low enough to not treat mood disorders or depression, but a high enough dose to be called “High” on the show. Here Dr. Ashton took some time to emphasize that the antidepressants used in this way are not for depression.
It was not clear to me whether Lisa is still on her antidepressants. With tricyclics, I’m aware that sleepyness can be a side effect, but if Lisa was sleepy, I didn’t notice it.

Dr. Oz’s third guest, Debbie, developed vulvodynia after using a topical yeast infection medication, about 2 years ago. Her treatment has been topical estrogen, and she’s been seeing a vulvovaginal specialist.

Dr. Oz then calls his guests onto the stage to talk about simple at-home interventions – all non-invasive. These simple interventions include:

  1. Cold compresses – like a bag of frozen peas since a bag of frozen peas can mold to the shape of the vulva. Dr. Oz could have also mentioned a sitz bath or rinsing with plain water after urinating, but did not. (To his credit, I know from personal experience that they are embarassing to carry around in public!)
  2. Using plain, boring toilet paper (He should have also mentioned changing soaps & laundry detergent.)
  3. Dietary changes – Here Dr. Oz is again apprehensive, as the low-oxlate diet in question is controversial. Some women see improvement on it, others do not. I personally do not wish to go on this diet, as I do not and did not have any food triggers that I know of… Except maybe for coffee; I tend to avoid coffee as much as I can. It’s very dehydrating anyway.

Dr. Ashton emphasized that patients should continue to search for what treatment works for them. There is no magic bullet cure, and what works for one woman, may not work for another. Dr. Oz concludes by pointing viewers to his website, and by saying that “If you’ve got pain down there, it’s not in your head.” This is an important message – its opposite is one of the most hurtful & counter-productive ones I’ve run into.

Now, at Dr. Oz’s website, after the embedded picture there’s a three-page article. There’s a couple of notes I want to point out from the site. The third paragraph of the article says, “The pain is a real gynecological condition called vulvodynia (aka vulvar vestibulitis) and the medical community is just waking up to high prevalence of this condition and finally starting to do something about it.” However, vulvar vestibulitis is a specific diagnosis; it is a type of vulvodynia. I personally tend to use “Vulvodynia” as a broad blanket statement, meant to include the specific category of vestibulitis. But vestibulitis is not necessarily the same thing as vulvodynia broadly. The article is clearer further on, “Vulvodynia includes any condition that causes pain, burning or itching in the vulva that cannot be attributed to a specific cause such as an infection, skin condition, neurological damage or cancer.” However, this is the first time I’ve heard the pain of vulvar cancer referred to as “Vulvodynia.” I’m not 100% sure if that’s correct, since cancer would be a different diagnosis… Although on the other hand, I imagine you can have both cancer and vulvodynia at the same time.

I’m impressed by the rest of the article – the author even pointed out the importance of using a smaller speculuum on patients for whom vulvodynia is suspected. The article also addresses some of the weaknesses of the short television segment, such as rinsing with the vulva with water after urinating. The website doesn’t touch upon all therapies available, (I do not see acupuncture listed) but it’s not a bad starting point. Interestingly, I don’t see sex therapy listed as an option (although sex therapy probably would not address the daily acute pain anyway; just the sexual component.) The article concludes by pointing readers to the National Vulvodynia Association. As of this moment, I do not see any comments posted at the article page (I’m not sure if Dr. Oz’s producers & webmaster allow comments.)

One drawback is that the article does not address the possibility of overlapping conditions, such as fibromyalgia, IC and IBS in relation to vulvodynia. It also does not mention vaginismus, although technically speaking I suppose that’s wrapped up in pelvic floor functioning.

Overall this… is a pretty good handling of vulvodynia on TV. Perhaps Dr. Oz’s producers actually listened to the feedback generated from the NVA following 20/20’s Medical Mysteries special. I think I’d like to write a note to the show producers to summarize what they did right and where they could use some improvement. But overall, I’m more satisfied with this than I have been in the past. I still want MORE coverage and more, better treatments for vulvodynia, so, TV producers if you will be covering vulvodynia again (you had better,) could you make it more like this?

What did you all think though? Where did you see room for improvement?

Vulvodynia to be on TV January 11, 2010

01/08/2010 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Edit 1/13/10 – Okay nevermind; Dr. Oz’s website posted the video segment in question, This is what you’re looking for!

Edit 1/12/10 – Okay people if you’re still arriving here from using search engines, the follow up is over here – The post Dr. Oz vulvodynia discussion – I do not DO have a video link for you at this time because I haven’t been able to find one online; I have also written a summary & analysis of the episode if you’re interested. Thank you.

ATTENTION EVERYONE: There will be a TV segment which will feature vulvodynia, coming up very soon – like in a matter of days. (I wonder if this is what the recruitment announcement a few weeks ago was related to?) Via NVA.org:

Monday’s Dr. Oz Show Features Vulvodynia Segment

Be sure to tune into The Dr. Oz Show on Monday, January 11th, when Dr. Oz will discuss the diagnosis and treatment of vulvodynia with Jennifer Ashton, MD, a New Jersey-based obstetrician-gynecologist and CBS News medical correspondent. The segment also features interviews with Lisa and Debbie, two vulvodynia sufferers, as well as with Christin Veasley, NVA’s associate executive director, and her husband Melvin.

Visit these sites to check your local listings:

http://www.doctoroz.com/sites/default/files/oz_wheretowatch.pdf

http://www.tvguide.com/Listings/default.aspx

After the broadcast, please take a few minutes to visit the show’s web site and send a brief e-mail to Dr. Oz and the show’s producers.  Let them know that you appreciate their coverage of this important women’s pain condition and that you’d like to see it covered again in the future.  You may do so here: http://doctoroz.com/contact.

Personally I prefer the layout of Zap2It for tv listings.

Let’s hope that, among other things, they actually use the word, “Vulvodynia” in this program! Last time a major US program ran a segment on vulvodynia, the word was not even spoken aloud, although that was the subject matter.

If Dr. Oz does not addresss some of the coverage shortcomings from the last program, the e-mail the show producers receive from me will likely contain some constructive criticism.

Vulvodynia to be on TV again, interviewees wanted

11/19/2009 at 7:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Found via Vulvar Vestibulitis Support Network and His and Her Health Forums:

Producers at a national television show are looking to interview married women who’ve been diagnosed with vulvodynia in the last six months. They’d also like to hear from single or married women who experience chronic painful sex but haven’t been diagnosed. If you fit these criteria and are willing to share your story on national television, as soon as possible, please send an e-mail to chris@nva.org with the following information:

– Name

– Age

– Are you married or single?

– If you’re married or in a relationship, is your partner willing to be interviewed? – What symptoms do you experience? When did they start?

– If applicable, what condition have you been diagnosed with? When did you receive a diagnosis? How many health care providers did you visit before being diagnosed?

– Have any treatments helped you? Is your vulvodynia better or worse? – How does vulvodynia or painful sex affect your life?

– How has the condition affected your sex life, marriage or relationships?

– Daytime phone number and e-mail address

– Current photo (please attach)

– Statement that you give NVA permission to forward your story and contact information to the show’s producers. Please try to limit your summary to 1-2 paragraphs.

No yet word on which television show is producing this episode, when we can expect it to be aired, or how it is going to be handled.

New NVA e-News letter

10/19/2009 at 6:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A new issue of NVA Update is available to anyone interested. (This is not to be confused with the NVA Newsletter, which requires National Vulvodynia Association membership (anyone can join,) or a payment if you do not wish to become a member.)

Back issues of NVA Update are available here.

This is a useful feature; it contains news updates, recent research, links to lots of other resources, and books of interest. While the primary audience for the newsletter is anyone familiar with vulvodynia, these updates might also be of general interest to chronic pain patients, as there is often overlap.

Without copying & analyzing the entire newsletter, I felt that one interesting thing about this issue is, it sounds like we were heard after the 20/20 special aired – the newsletter acknowledges some of the comments made about the program, notably the censorship (The word “Vulvodynia” was never spoken aloud during the show,) the lack of detail on treatments (including surgery & physical therapy,) and the small case study used for the program (3 women.) I addressed some of these concerns about the 20/20 special here. We said something – looks like we were heard. Let’s not stop the dialog here – there is still much work to do.

The NVA even issued a press relesase about the show.

That’s all I have to offer for now.

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