When women get together, they talk just about everything.  

Nothing is off limits. Or is it? This 15-year cancer survivor discovered that there is one conversation, one that echoes silence in a room and women do not discuss.  

In this article, we seek to change this drastically. You see it is a remarkable narrative that naturally MUST happen.

Lack of intimacy is one of the top 10 most common reasons why couples divorce according to Marriage.com.  

The disconnectedness that can happen with a lack of intimacy can soon become the underlying current that rips a relationship apart like an out of control tide.

Love sinks under the murky waters of discontent with much confusion and pain.  Many marriage aficionado will give you a remedy, perhaps small acts of kindness and appreciation can help pave the way to feeling reconnected, this reconnection may refire intimacy and help you to enjoy the sexual connection.

But what if you can’t enjoy physical intimacy no matter how many acts of appreciation and kindness you receive from your partner?  

What if every time you attempt intimacy you experience excruciating burning pain which feels like a knife slicing through you?

This happened to me.  A biological chastity belt.  I wish there were another way I could describe it.  Total access denied. No key. No security password.  And in this technological age no voice, fingerprint or face recognition was going to open this lock. Computer says no.

Two million bunches of long stem roses or deep conversations by an open fire will do nothing to soothe a pain that is the cause of the silence for so many women around the world.

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I had no warning whatsoever that my body was about to clamp itself shut.  It just happened.  I couldn’t even tell you when it happened, although I do know it was approximately 8 years after I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Aside from that, all I knew was that one day sex was so painful I didn’t want to do it again – EVER!!!   I had no idea what was going on, what was wrong and I certainly didn’t know what to do about it, and I definitely didn’t have anyone to talk to.  How do you talk about something like this? I just thought it would pass with maybe more foreplay and a few more acts of kindness and appreciation? It was not psychological, it was not an act of closing off. My physical body was in agony. End of story.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t pass.  It has taken me 6 years, and I have learned it has taken some women up to 20 years, to finally learn that as a result of my having my ovaries removed to significantly reduce the production of oestrogen in my body, I sent my body into early menopause.  Vaginal dryness and consequent painful sex is a symptom of menopause and develops over a period of approximately 5+ years.   Its just one of many conditions that sit under the title of “painful sex.” and is also known as vulvodynia.

Medical texts first documented vulvodynia in 1880.  150 years ago! Up to 85% of women will experience some form of vulvodynia in their lifetime.  85 PERCENT! This is no small thing. So what is it exactly? The definitions are broad but the overarching descriptor is that Vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome that affects the vulvar area and occurs without an identifiable cause.  In the case of menopause it is the decline in oestogen levels.

The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, found that 3 out of 4 women will experience pain during sex at some point throughout their life. However, due to the sensitive nature of the condition women don’t talk about it, which makes the collection of information difficult.

I completely understand and empathize.  I am not a prude. I am an excellent communicator.

But I didn’t talk to anyone and when I was asked about the subject for this blog I froze.  Inside I was dying of embarrassment and couldn’t find the words to say.

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My head was struggling with an array of sentences that would explain to my curious audience in a way that wouldn’t embarrass them.  I began to tell them. But nothing came out of my mouth. Their stares were met with silence. I tried several times, but all that happened was more silence that got more awkward.  Finally, feeling hot and wishing the floor would open and swallow me, my face going bright red, a conversation in my head where “me” told “me” to get over myself. I took a breath, put my big girl pants on and blurted out as casually as I could – “Let’s talk about sex.”   My lovely audience was too polite to duck for cover despite the immediate atmospheric change suggesting if they could they would.

I wanted to duck for cover too.  But this 150-year-old conversation is too meaningful.  

It affects so many of us on all levels, physically, emotionally and in our relationships with what can be devastating outcomes. It affects women in all continents and includes adolescents.

Are there ways to relieve this condition? To fix it?

To assist? Yes, there are. This is the good news, but we must educate each other. For our daughters and sisters, our friends and mothers we must be brave enough to talk about “down there.” An ordinary, and usual conversation would be a beautiful new normal, no different to any other fact of life discussed in primary schools.

For more information, I talk about it in my interview Stories on the Red Couch with Robyn which you will find on the home page.   For products that may be of assistance if you are suffering from this condition please check out vuvatech.com.  (Please note I do not receive any commission from this).  I also highly recommend Olive Oil.  Olive oil is not only a wonderful moisturising lubricant but also possesses pain relief properties.  Just make sure you use the original cold pressed variety.  Olive Oil infused with chilli may not end well!