I have a piece up at Salon this week about chronic pelvic pain and why so many women who suffer from it suffer in silence. The problem is partly systemic and partly cultural. And of course, pain that women feel during sex – as many as one in three women, according to a recent study – is a deeply personal problem:
If studies aren’t funded, there are no findings to report to gynecologists. The result is that doctors don’t know what to tell women who come to them complaining of chronic pain. There are also no findings to report to the press, and as a result, women who experience pain during sex can’t read about possible medical explanations of their problem. They also can’t read about the fact that, while they might feel terribly alone, they most certainly aren’t the only women in America who don’t find sex to be enjoyable, let alone orgasmic. Additionally, without funding, without research, without a medical explanation for the problem, it’s awfully difficult to determine how to treat chronic vulvar pain.
Then there’s a fear of speaking up about the problem. Our society is obsessed with sex; images of ecstasy are everywhere, and young people enter the sexual arena certain in the knowledge that sex is going to be, to use a demographically appropriate term, awesome. Sure, there’s a risk of pregnancy and of sexually transmitted infections, but aside from those dangers, and a little initial discomfort for women, sex is going to be incredible. Why else would we all be so totally fixated on it? Sex feels fantastic … right?
You can read the rest of it here.