My vestibulectomy adventure
Hello! At the encouragement of Dr. Goldstein (known as Dr. G to everyone), I’ll be writing about my adventures of going through a vestibulectomy surgery. I don’t have a long background story to share because my search for a “cure” has been relatively short in comparison to many women. I was 28 when I got married about 3 1/2 years ago and both my husband and I were virgins. Sex was painful during our honeymoon week, but we thought it would get better with time. By Month 6 of marriage we were ready to start counseling because sex had become such an issue. I felt it was a physical issue with me, and my husband thought it was mental. Have you ever been told it’s all in your head, or that if you think it’ll hurt, then it will? Well, my husband was gentle with his words, but that was basically what he believed. And so did the doctors. “Everything looks fine, just give it time.” Yeah, that’s not really helpful. I really wanted to ask them if they thought they were being helpful but at the same time, I was scared of whatever the physical issue was and didn’t want to have to deal with it yet. Within the first 3 years of marriage I saw 3 gynecologists, 1 nurse practitioner specializing in OB/GYN, and my primary doctor. None could “see” anything wrong. The last gynecologist I saw performed a q-tip test and was able to pinpoint a specific area that I recognized as being the main source of pain during sex. She gave me a dilator to work with at home (to insert at various lengths until I was comfortable inserting the whole thing) and lidocaine gel to use prior to sex in hopes of numbing the area to decrease or eliminate the pain. I had no problem inserting the dilator and the lidocaine gel didn’t help. I let the doctor know the results and she referred me to Dr. Goldstein.
(Just as a side note, I had a severe reaction to the Nuva Ring about 9 months into marriage. The symptoms were all neurological and stumped 13 doctors until I found my current primary care physician, who is an OD (osteopathic doctor) specializing in Endocrinology. She tested for everything under the sun, trying to find the root cause (and not just mask the symptoms!) and finally told me to go off Nuva Ring to see what would happen. Every single test and procedure I had gone through with each doctor came back perfectly fine. I was literally the healthiest sick person for almost 1 1/2 years! Within a month of going off NR, I felt much better and continued to feel better as time went on. No more chemical birth control for me (chemicals are just bad anyway – why ingest them if you don’t have to)! So, had I not been sidetracked with that for well over a year, I hopefully would have been referred to Dr. G much sooner.)
During our initial phone appointment, Dr. G asked a million questions, listened well, and had a diagnosis by the time the call was finished. He said he would wait to tell us the diagnosis at our first in-person appointment. He emailed me a list of patient email addresses in case I wanted to contact any of them with questions. Most of them contacted me first and in doing so, I was able to figure out what Dr. G’s assumed diagnosis was for me and what the likely “fix” would be – a vestibulectomy. I think I just knew that I was going to have to have the surgery, but that didn’t keep me from freaking out about it. Dr. G will tell you how adamant I was at our first appointment about not having the surgery. That in-person appointment consisted of lots of education (I had no idea what a vestibule was until then!), pictures of others and my own anatomy, and tests that were not so comfortable. There wasn’t time for Dr. G to perform the nerve block, the last test. I was very nervous for the nerve block at my next appointment, and it was honestly worse than I thought it would be. Not to scare anyone who might have to have it done, but I don’t tend to sugar coat things. So if you have to have one, expect pain. After all, you’re getting injections in precisely the area that’s already causing you pain. The test is necessary, but it still sucks.
After we got home, my husband and I did our “homework” of attempting sex, which was painless in the area that had always hurt before. I did have some discomfort deep inside, but after explaining it to Dr. G, he said it was most likely due to pelvic floor spasms. The nerve block was deemed a success and surgery was now an option. I’m not sure if this is common or not, but I had some discomfort in the vestibule area for close to 2 weeks after the nerve block. I also experienced a lot of itchiness, which I’d never experienced before, other than an occasional itch here or there. It was bothersome and around the time I was going to contact Dr. G about it, I started my period and the discomfort & itchiness disappeared. After the nerve block, my husband and I spent some time weighing our options and he graciously deferred the decision to me since whatever option we chose was going to “happen” to me. Although there are many non-surgical options, Dr. G felt the vestibulectomy was my best option. At the age of 32, with the thoughts of having kids swirling in my head (I don’t want to be an old mom!), I decided to have the surgery. Sooner rather than later, please, so I didn’t have to stress about it too long! Which brings me to my user name, GADgirl. I have GAD – Generalized Anxiety Disorder – which means I stress about everything
So that’s my story leading up to right now, 8 days post-op! Over the next few posts, I’ll fill you in on my experience of surgery and recovery. Hopefully I can help answer any questions you may have, like the other blogs in the forums have done for me! As Dr. G says, we’re all hear to learn from each other!