“Vulva- whatia?” Vulvodynia – The Behind the Scenes of HBO’s Blunder

Most of us are lucky. Our only “knowledge” of Vulvodynia is from a Sex and the City episode when Charlotte goes to visit her gynecologist because she’s itching and having some pain “down there.”

Charlotte is prescribed anti-depressants — not for her, for her vagina — and is told by her doctor that vulvodynia is not a serious problem. Her friends laugh at her (more at her vagina than anything) and mock the chronic pain disorder. But for more than 7 million American women, the pain is not a joke.

Unsurprisingly, many women and organizations were outraged at HBO’s stab of humor for several reasons:

1) Vulvodynia is not uncommon. Millions of women suffer from it. And we mean suffer. Women with symptoms suffer a great deal of pain, irritation, and burning when the area is touched. Some have described the sensation as being akin to having a knife scraped across their skin.

A recent study found that 25% of women experience chronic vulvar pain at some point in their lives, making vulvodynia a very common disorder affecting women and girls of all ages and ethnicities.
2) Although it is not uncommon, many women go undiagnosed. They are unable to receive proper care, unable to understand the cause and thus, deal with their symptoms effectively.

Many doctors are unaware of the condition, fail to diagnose it, or dismiss it as an option. This is because its symptoms are often similar to those of bad bacterial or yeast infections, from using the wrong type of soaps, or wearing synthetic underwear.

3) Vulvodynia can be linked to mental health disorders such as feelings of depression. Because of pain, women are unable to participate in some exercise activities, including sex. Foregoing the ability to feel pleasure can seriously affect women’s lifestyles and relationships.

4) Women have a difficult time finding a support community in which they feel comfortable talking about their pain and problems. Some support groups that do exist, however, encourage women to become advocates for pharmaceutical research into potential solutions.

The National Vulvodynia Association runs some support group meetings in various states, but much more needs to be done. The good thing is that several startups are creating online support systems for patients with rare diseases. These virtual support communities (almost like social media platforms) are helping individuals gain access to information, support, and health.  If vocalized, the need for a vulvodynia support community could be met!

We, at Maxim Hygiene Products, are vested in women’s health, and in particular, vulvodynia for two reasons.

First – our product line was designed particularly for women who need organic products because of highly sensitive vaginas. Doctors of vulvodynia patients recommend that women use cotton instead of synthetic products and pads instead of tampons. So we feel a particular affinity to those women whose needs we aim to serve.

Second – Maxim believes in education and awareness. Just check out our blog category topics, they range from “Women’s Health” to “Period Talk.” We aim to create open dialogue where women and girls can ask and learn anything. There is no shame or embarrassment here and we want to encourage every female to be the same way!

We also like to have fun, which is why we have blog category topics like “Girly Fun” and “Friday Fun Day.” So, click on the links in this blog to learn more, ask us any questions you may have, and join the conversation via Twitter or Facebook.

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