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The pain that is vulvodynia

VulvodyniaVulvodynia is pain of the vulvar area which is currently described by the  International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease as “discomfort, most often described as burning pain, occurring in the absence of relevant visible findings or a specific, clinically identifiable, neurologic disorder”.  Meaning, in layman’s terms:  there doesn’t seem to be a specific reason found for it occurring.  Research is ongoing and there are several theories developing, but so far no single or even regular grouping of causes have been identified.

The number of females who experience vulvodynia, depending on the study, has ranged generally from 5-19%.

While it is most often a burning pain, it can also be throbbing, itching, pain during intercourse, irritation or rawness, stinging, and other painful sensations.

Vulvar pain can be localized or at various points.  It can cause entering the vagina or even touching the vulva to range from uncomfortable to unbearable.

Vulvodynia can be short term or chronic.

Due to no known, set origin treatment methods are also widely varied and hit-or-miss in effectiveness.  Some involve physical therapy, psychiatric care and therapy, medication for pain and topical anesthetics, anti-depressants and anti-convulsants to address potential nerve pain, local injections of various medications, dietary changes, clothing and soap changes, hormonal treatments, and more.

Given these facts it’s easy to see how this can interfere with many females’ sexual lives and for some even daily non-sexual activities.

It can be not only physically painful but also emotionally distressing for both the female effected and for any partner(s).

I can speak on vulvodynia’s effects to an extent personally.

At first, there was rare and minor discomfort during sex and nothing that was enough to cause concern.  It was the type of thing one associates with being positioned just wrong or perhaps not well enough lubricated that time.

Then it became slowly more common and intense during any insertions into my vagina… eventually the sensation was that of being burned by acid when anything even slightly entered me.  It stopped any type of sexual encounter of that type between my partner and I and I decided it was necessary to pursue help from a gynecologist.

I was given pelvic examinations a couple of times, by two different doctors, which were excruciating. As each time no irritation or unusual discharge could be found and the STD testing they did each time came out negative, I was told to come back in a few months if I still had pain.  They couldn’t see anything wrong with me, so I was brushed aside so to speak.

On my third visit to the gynecologist, the second one pelvic exam doctor, I had expected more testing or another pelvic.  I was told frankly and directly at a sit-down office meeting that they did not know what was wrong with me and they couldn’t do anything for me.  He then got up to end the appointment.  I stayed seated.

Through pure stubborness on my part he eventually offered to sent me to both a psychiatrist to try and find out if my pain was caused by a mental health issue and to another gynecologist that specialized in vaginal pain.

The psychiatrist referral never came through, but the gynecological one did.  I was given a pain-mapping procedure where the doctor uses a swab and touches various areas of the vulva and vagina to find where exactly the pain is occurring.  Mine was not deeply internal so he chose not to subject me to an internal ultrasound due to the extreme pain any insertions caused.  I was put on an anti-depressant used for nerve pain and assigned a course of 5 weeks of daily lidocaine application, with the plan for physical therapy to be started.  However, I had to move states shortly after and could not follow with this gynecologist further.  He assured me that at that point I would have his files to continue forward with care at my new doctor.

The trip to that specialist helped to such an extent I cannot say emotionally.  With no diagnosis and essentially no treatment prior to him I was at a loss as to why I was experiencing such intense pain, concerned it may be something along the lines of cancer potentially, and I was frustrated with my body and my sexual limitations with my partner.  But now, finally, I had a name for what was wrong, vulvodynia, and a doctor who was completely honest about the facts concerning it but had begun a course of treatment.

Given the word, I was able to better Google.  I found other females experiencing the same and similar pains; I found sites filled with information.  I was no longer completely blind as to what was going on with me.  Still concerned, still morbid worries, but no longer at a complete loss and alone.

Moving states and file-transfer issues have started my treatment from square one again, but thankfully with another gynecologist who is motivated to help me find a cure if possible.  A doctor who has sent me for an external ultrasound to rule out more possible causes and who has expressed full willingness to refer me to a specialist again if the basics he wants to cover don’t find anything.

Thankfully, my ultrasound has come back just fine.

But it has now been twenty-one months, a year and nine, that a part of my body has been only a source of pain with no explanation as to cause, no set and reliable course of treatment known, and has hindered my private and partnered sexual life.  It is frustrating.  It is scary.  It is something awkward to explain to new potential lovers… “No, I can’t have anything involving my vagina. Yes because of pain. No, I don’t know why. Yes, I promise it is not due to infection as I’ve been repeatedly tested”.

If you are female and experience unexplained vulvar pain or are involved with one who does, know you are not alone.  Push for testing to rule out what can be.  Don’t let yourself be set aside medically.  Seek out support groups and information in hard copy and online.

Try to be understanding and accepting of yourself or your partner.  Patience is hard, especially when it comes to such an important part of one’s identity, physical functioning, relationship interactions and how or if the cause will be resolved.

It has a name, many of us experience it, and help can be pursued.  Again, you’re not alone.

 

 

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Genderfree Female – No, I’m not the girl in our relationship.

Gender People without gender are largely an overlooked group even within the transgender community. And anyone who is not cisgender tends to run into expectations to be so… and then on top of that, cisgender and transgender people tend to be expected to fall into stereotyped gender/sex roles.

So what to do when you’re a genderfree female, especially in a heterosexual relationship where you’re default not just by body but by partnership assumed to be “the girl”?

Not just the outside world can have a difficult time with this concept, even our own partners. Add on top of that that many of us do “do” feminine at times or all the time. Then add on top of that that many of us are perfectly comfortable being in a female body. Not on the binary, no gender at all, feminine at times, transgender and fine being female. It can make for confusion in those that live with and love us.

Partners often at first and even down the road can be unsure on how to address our bodies, sexually and non-sexually. If you’ve never been part of or heard a discussion on what people prefer their body parts like their genitals or breasts to be called or even if they want them acknowledged then you may not be familiar with this issue. But it’s there… When I’m speaking of my female partner’s body, what is the right word to use that will be fine by them but hopefully not confusing to others? During dirty talk is it okay to say things like “your pussy”?

Partners often don’t know how to address us as people… what pronouns, what references, to use in speaking with others. Is “she” okay? If not, what is? Do I refer to my genderfree lover as my girlfriend or wife, is that comfortable and/or appropriate? Again, if not, what is?

Partners often wonder why a female companion expresses not having a gender while dressed up to the stereotype of femininity: lacy undies, clinging dress, high heels, long and elegantly styled hair, the oh so carefully applied makeup. While presenting within more masculine expectations can also be confusing for them, the seemingly matched femininity and female body can raise a lot of questions.

That brings us then to the confusion that does also occur when a genderfree female partner presents as masculine part of or all of the time. “Are they actually female-to-male transexual?”. “Will they be mistaken for a lesbian?” (because, of course, there are stereotypes to sexualities, too).

Then throw in those who genderfuck on top of identifying with no gender and things get messier.

And how as a cisgender man do you approach sexually someone who isn’t a boy or girl or even any other gender identity? There are traits assigned to these regardless of whether they universally apply. Their are understood and culturally imbedded expectations in the mating ritual from first date to full on fucking. Do they want the door held for them, should I be the one pursuing… and heck, the occasional “am I gay or not?” because deep down they still expect a binary identification regardless of body sex.

Sex itself… Less of an issue if the male partner doesn’t have firm gender roles assigned to bedroom activities, but oh it can and does come up for some. We get back to the above of what phrases and labels are okay for body parts during dirty talk? And what about vulgar descriptions and nouns otherwise used at times during The Deed… would “dirty whore” or “cumdump bitch” be correct phrasing?

(Let’s put aside for the moment whether or not these types of phrases would be acceptable for cisgender females, either. They’re just used here as examples of some very pointed ones ones out there in some people’s sex lives.)

Will my partner want to fuck me with a strap-on, since they don’t identify as female?” – again, that binary sexual stereotyping.

Would it be offensive to buy my lover obviously gender-oriented gifts or sex toys or lingerie?”

And endless other wonderings and questions that can’t all be touched on here and are also beyond my ability to think up there are so many.

The simultaneously unfortunate and fortunate answer to dealing with all of this is that one needs to take the time to talk to one’s partner. Learn what an absence of gender means to them, personally, and how it relates to their connection with their body. Have those detailed and in-depth discussions about sexual expectations and comfort-zones. Find out what makes them happy and acknowledged in how others are led to view them in your relationship. While, of course, they should be finding out all the same about you.

I’ve spoken from a heterosexual angle with a cisgender male lover referenced in this all, but only because I wanted to address the issues related to that specific arrangement. There are countless others and this is just one, I addressed it as it is the most common one I personally run into with myself being a genderfree female.

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Introduction: Sharps, Relationships, Enthusiasm

rumpusRP is an experienced and knowledgeable sharps player focusing on needle and cutting play, both permanent or temporary in either.  Being a genderfree female lifestyle dominant and starting early they have over 18 years of engaging in and enjoying sex, BDSM, and Female Led Relationships.  Passionate about body and sex positivity, feminism, and LGBTQ rights, Rumpus tries to do what they can to promote all of those things.

They’ve also been a sex-worker of various types over the last couple decades, fading in and out of the practice.  Rumpus has done a small amount of BDSM porn, selling of fetish items, doing audio and video clips, being a cam girl, fetish modeling, and working as an online, phone, and in-person professional dominant.