Surgically Disabled

Friday, January 25, 2008

Question

I am a woman in my twenties who found out about a year and a half ago that I had contracted HPV from my current boyfriend. About a year ago, I had to undergo laser surgery on my cervix to take care of the warts. We waited about two months afterwards to have sex, a little longer than the doctor recommended, but intercourse was still really painful around the opening of my vagina. We'd wait and try again a few weeks later, but again, sex would be painful. It's been a year this month since the surgery, and although it isn't as bad as when I first had surgery, the skin at the opening of my vagina is still extremely sensitive and is quickly irritated by. The doctor said that he hasn't had any other patients with this problem. We're using plenty of lube and going slowly. We're out of other ideas. I don't remember having issues like this before being treated. Have you heard anything about this happening with other women? Do you have any suggestions about easing the discomfort? I'm hesitant to use desensitizing lube because I'm scared the skin might tear and I won't know, and anyways, after it wears off I'm going to be sore down there for a few days. Any help would be appreciated. I miss my old sex life!

Answer

I wonder how the doctor got access to your cervix so he could use the laser on those warts. Was the vaginal opening stretched to the extent that you might have scar tissue there? I was unable to find out how this surgery is done, but it seems worth researching. The doctor is probably being close-mouthed because he fears being sued. Consult another gynecologist, and get a referral to a doctor who specializes in treating pain. They may be able to offer you appropriate medication or other techniques like biofeedback.

I understand your concern about using a lubricant with an anesthetic. This would mask the pain, but when it wore off, you might still be hurting. It would be difficult to treat your pain unless we can determine whether it's due to scarring or physical tension. I think you should do an experiment with a lubricated and condom-covered very small dildo (or another vagina-shaped object, like the handle of a toothbrush). Does inserting something like that hurt you? If so, your vagina may be clamping down when any sort of penetration takes place. You will be able to see and feel the vaginal opening contracting or cramping. This is called vaginismus, and it's treated with a series of vaginal dilators, worn for gradually increasing amounts of time. The vaginismus could have been triggered by the trauma of surgery. General anesthetic makes you unconscious while surgery is happening, but the body still feels intrusion and violation.

Since Western medicine doesn't offer you many options, you can also try other forms of treatment. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs might restore the balance to your body. I would also consider guided meditation, to help you relax, and hypnotherapy. You might also have just a few issues with your partner giving you HPV (I'm being sarcastic) so perhaps talking to a therapist by yourself or going to a couples counselor would help to resolve your feelings of anger and perhaps a fear of being re-infected if you resume full sexual relations with him.

I have heard from other people with genital warts that they wound up with pain in the area where the warts were removed, but most of these cases are of people who were treated with acids to burn off the warts. See if you can find some support groups on-line. If any of these options provide you with some relief, or they don't, please write back, and I'll see if I can come up with other suggestions. I am so sorry this is happening to you. You and your partner must be very upset. But please don't stop having sex just because intercourse isn't possible! Enjoy all of the fun things you can do with your hands, mouth, whole-body rubbing, etc. But make sure you are using latex barriers and taking precautions to prevent another cycle of wart infection and removal.