But, overall, PVD couples benefit greatly from behavioral sex therapy as they learn to develop deep, meaningful ways of talking to each other with the therapist’s support, and to experiment with alternative methods of pleasuring each other sexually. Again and again in my clinic, I see how much difference it can make when a women with PVD is married to a man incapable of seeing her discomfort or, instead, when she has a sympathetic and patient partner.

One of my patients in her early thirties had married at 18 while still a virgin. She most likely suffered PVD right from the beginning, but in any case found it difficult to have sex. Her husband, not understanding her “frailty”, simply forced her to have sex, and the resulting resentment and bitterness spread through every corner of their ten-year marriage. At some point, she was diagnosed with PVD, but did not feel she had the strength to pursue therapy. It took her a long time to build up the courage to divorce her husband, but she finally did. She resumed a career in teaching and, enjoying her new-found independence, decided it was time to solve her sexual problem, so she came to see me for treatment. Just at that time, she met a nice man to whom she felt she could open up emotionally, and they started a romantic relationship. He was gentle, he understood her need for a slow pace, and the relationship flourished while therapy continued smoothly. As a result, they were able to have a normal, satisfying sex life.

A year later, when I called to check on her, she thanked me and said I had changed her life, but I think she owes the changes to the kindness of her partner and her own determination to open up to him.

 

Diet and Hygiene Can Help

 

Simple genital hygiene can play a part in PVD. In the hope of lessening pain, patients often wash their genitals with increased frequency. But soaps and detergents are irritants, and potentially harmful, as they change the natural balance of bacteria, leaving the area vulnerable to invasion by harmful ones that may make the symptoms worse or even bring new ones into the picture. Although it is very clear that PVD is not an infectious disease, you don’t want to complicate the situation with related infections.

Good genital hygiene includes wearing all-cotton underwear, because synthetic fibers are a potential irritant, and should be avoided by people with sensitive genitals. Often, also, patients with this sensitivity can benefit from modifying their diet to include foods low in oxalate, such as boiled pasta, chicken, lamb, white fish, avocados and melon, and avoiding hot peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, dried fruits, coffee and sugar. You can easily find out more about this on the Internet.

 

 

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