Dr. Caroline Pukall from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada explains the two subtypes of vulvodynia; vestibulodynia and generalized vulvodynia and the common factors between them.
Dr. Pukall and Todd Hartley:
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Hi, and thank you for joining the EmpowHer Network. Dr. Caroline Pukall, the Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada is with us to answer your questions. Dr. Pukall, you mentioned there are two sub-types of vulvodynia, vestibulodynia and the generalized vulvodynia. What are the common factors for women with these two conditions?
Okay, so, that’s a very good question, and so we discriminate them based on pain presentation, and so in vestibulodynia, the pain is localized to the vaginal entrance. It is provoked in that there is some kind of pressure to the vaginal entrance that is needed in order to create the pain, and the most common complaints of these women is pain during sexual intercourse. Women with generalized vulvodynia tend to have a generalized pain over the outside of their whole vulvar area, and typically this is described as burning, sharp, irritating and raw, and sometimes if one touches the area that is painful, the pain can increase. And unfortunately some women may have both vestibulodynia and generalized vulvodynia, and so these women have the chronic pain that is always present, plus they have severe pain during sexual intercourse. There are certainly differences in terms of these two conditions, and the similarities are such that obviously these two pain conditions affect women’s external genitals. The pain conditions lead to a lot of distress; they may lead to severe sexual dysfunction if you are having pain in your genitals or if sex is intimately tied with severe pain. There may be some lower arousal, lower desire, avoidance of sexual activity if you have chronic pain in your genitals. This also may occur, and there seems to be a reduced quality of life these women are both suffering, you know, women with both of these conditions are suffering from chronic pain condition, especially in an intimate area of their body. It is very difficult to talk to health professionals, to partners, to friends about this pain simply because it is in a very intimate part of the body, and not many women are very comfortable talking about their genitals, especially if their genitals are painful. They may think that something else might be happening and so this causes a lot of distress, a lot of pain. Another commonality between these two conditions is that these two conditions can only be diagnosed in the absence of physical findings.
Well, she is Dr. Caroline Pukall, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology in Kingston, Ontario at Queen’s University. Dr. Pukall, thank you for joining us.
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For more information on Dr. Caroline Pukall visit Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.