Searching for The Cause of Vulvodynia

Thu, 12/29/2011 - 08:50
Submitted by Betty Dodson

I wrote to you a while ago asking you why you thought I was afraid of sex/men, and whether it had anything to do with the pain I'd experienced for years as a result of having a thick hymen, or perhaps my issues with my father. You published it under the title 'Hymen removed, now afraid of sex" or something along those lines. Anyway, I have since been diagnosed with vulvodynia and I now have a new question for you.

I know you're not a vulvodynia expert, and that no-one really knows what causes this horrible disorder, but I have a theory and would like your opinion on it.

I read something online about emotional trauma or sexual abuse being a possible cause for vulvodynia. Because of the trauma, the brain associates the vagina, and all vaginal contact, with pain and sends pain signals to the nerves whenever penetration is attempted. It's not like vaginismus, which is a tightening of the muscles, it's a skin thing. The neural pathways are screwed up, which means that the actual nerves in that area are in a sense damaged because the brain tells them "this is painful/this should hurt". I think that this theory makes a lot of sense. Emotional trauma often leads to physical changes in the body.

If you remember or re-read my last message to you, I described the emotional damage my father caused me. I was a real daddy's-girl, and after he abandoned me I suffered CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) for years. I still to this day have anxiety attacks on and off. And I was thinking about what Freud thought about how the parent of the opposite gender represents sex, and the relationship between the child and this parent will affect how the child feels about sex as they grow up.

Do you think that the emotional trauma that my father caused me could have led to my developing vulvodynia? In some twisted Freudian way, could my mind have taken this rejection from my father, and turned it into a sexual thing? Could my brain's ability to control/recognize pain in my vagina have been caused by this?

I'm sorry that this message is so long, and I hope it made sense. I don't know a lot about science or psychology, and I can no longer find the article that stated this theory, so it was difficult for me to word. Thank you for your time.

Dear R,

I've been communicating with a doctor who believes the pain of infant circumcision has caused men a lot of sexual problems that are manifested in the body with impotence, fast ejaculations, repressed anger and much more. So yes, I believe the body holds memories that affects many different organs including our genitals. Wilhelm Reich also felt that we held emotional trauma in our bodies. He called "character armoring." So yes, I agree with your assessment and believe this understanding will aid in your recovery.

Dr. Betty

Liberating women one orgasm at a time