National Pain Awareness Week: Let's talk about sexual pain disorder

TORONTO, Nov. 4 /CNW/ - Women's sexual pain is too often suffered in silence. Through a web-based survey(1) of 428 women with chronic pain in their external genital (vulvar) area, it was revealed that sexual pain has destroyed or altered their sex lives, lowered their self-esteem, and affected their relationships.

That's why Mount Sinai Hospital's Wasser Pain Management Centre has a dedicated program for female pelvic pain.

"We see women of all ages affected by sexual pain, which is pain that interferes with or inhibits sexual activity." explains Dr. Allan Gordon, Director of the Wasser Pain Management Centre. "The pain usually comes forward when the woman attempts intercourse. We hear too many stories from women who go through a series of family physicians and gynaecologists without validation of their pain. For many of the women who are treated at our Centre, it's a relief to finally get a diagnosis."

The Wasser Centre uniquely treats sexual pain in a multidisciplinary manner. The experts include a gynaecologist, sex therapist, neurologist, psychiatrist, anaesthesiologist and nurses.

Each week, the Centre receives referrals for four to five new patients with sexual pain disorder. As well, several women come to the Centre with other chronic pain like fibromyalgia or migraines and through assessment they are diagnosed with sexual pain.

To diagnose sexual pain, the clinicians do a general and sexual history; a neurological history and examination; abdominal, back and pelvic exam; vulvar examination; and a sensory evaluation including a Q-tip test of the vulva.

The treatment that follows can include:

    -   Topical cream
    -   Exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles (pelvic floor
    -   Internal physiotherapy
    -   Trigger point massage
    -   Injections of Botox or corticosteroids and/or local anaesthetic into
        the pelvic area
    -   Oral medications
    -   Sex therapy

"Our goal is to treat the women and teach them how to self-manage the pain so they can enjoy a better quality of life be it defined as pain-free intercourse or a successful pregnancy. Sexual pain needs to be talked about more in Canada so these women understand their pain is real and that there is medical care available."

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    (1) J Sex Marital Ther. 2003;29 Suppl 1:45-58. Characteristics of women
        with vulvar pain disorders: responses to a Web-based survey. Gordon
        AS, Panahian-Jand M, Mccomb F, Melegari C, Sharp S.

SOURCE Mount Sinai Hospital

For further information: For further information: Media contact: Melissa McDermott, Mount Sinai Hospital, (416) 586-4800 ext. 8306,

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