Testimonio desde Australia

My name is Noelene, and I suffer from a condition called vulvodynia. My story doesn’t quite have a clear beginning as I’m not sure when the pain actually began. I am, however, certain that I have lived with this condition for several years now. 

It was only until last year, when I first became sexually active, that my symptoms had become more noticeable. I do believe that both women and men are not given the proper sexual education they need, and so my first sexual experience was one that made me believe that the pain I felt was normal. 

On most occasions after I had sexual intercourse, I would experience symptoms similar of a urinary tract infection. In March 2018, I had experienced a severe flare up of these symptoms after having sex and was in debilitating pain for several months. This period of my life was the hardest and scariest I had lived so far. 

During that time I had seen in total, 4 general practitioners, 1 urologist, and 1 gynaecologist. I’m lucky that total is a considerably small number compared to others who suffer from the same condition as me. However, like most vulvodynia cases, most of these doctors were unhelpful and lacking in empathy, which convinces me just how poorly understood this condition is. For example, my visit with the urologist concluded with him telling me to just “wait it out” until the pain goes away. 

On most days, I was bed-ridden. My illness had put a lot of strain on my relationship with my then boyfriend which lead to a devastating breakup. All of this accumulated together had lead to me feeling severely depressed, suicidal, and hopeless. What most people don’t understand about this condition is just how emotionally complex it is. It’s not just the fear of never getting better but also the fear of whether you’ll ever be able to have sex again, be in a healthy relationship, have children, be able to have a career, be able to be independent. That’s what I thought about every single day last year and it was terrifying. I also come from a traditional Catholic family, and so with that came feelings of guilt and shame. I was convinced at one point that I was being punished by God for having sex before marriage. 

I’ve come a long way from then and could not be more proud of the strength and courage I carried throughout that entire year. I’ve recently seen a new gynaecologist who understands my pain and has officially diagnosed me with vulvodynia and put me on a treatment plan. I’m still in the process of healing, physically and emotionally but have so much more hope for the future now than I did a year ago, and part of that is because of Peace With Pain. 

So I would like to give my gratitude to Pame and the creators of Peace With Pain for making women like me feel less alone in the battle they face everyday with vulvar pain. Be unashamed, proud, open, and vulnerable. Your condition does not define you and we are all in this together.

To the reader, if you have similar experiences and would like to become friends or talk about it please do message me on Instagram! @noeleeny