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How to Make a Baby When You’ve Got Vulvodynia

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If you’re one of the 15 percent of women who experience vulvodynia in their lifetimes, you may be wondering how on earth you will achieve normal things like having a sexual relationship, becoming a mother or even just sitting at your desk at work.

While some women recover from the condition and symptoms tend to lessen over time, many women don’t recover or find that their vulval pain lasts several years or even decades.

Symptoms of vulvodynia include:

• A burning pain at the vulva, usually constantly but it worsens when the area is pressed and during sexual contact
• Feeling as if the area is swollen, even if it appears visually normal
• Slight redness
• Itching of the vulva and/or labia
• Feeling as if you have a urinary tract infection when you don’t
• Vaginal dryness
• Burning when you urinate
• Extreme burning pain during or after intercourse, lasting up to three days

As the debilitating condition often hits at puberty or after using the pill, there are many women of childbearing age who are left wondering just how to maintain their relationship and start the family they desperately want.

How to Have Sex When it Hurts

Unfortunately for women with vulvodynia, making a baby involves having sex which can be extremely problematic, if not impossible. The anti-depressants given to treat vulvodynia are also not suitable for use in pregnancy, so should not be used if you are planning a baby, but there are ways around it if you are determined enough.
• Try a steroid cream – these do lessen the symptoms in some women, although some find them ineffective. It might take the edge off the pain so that you can bear intercourse. It can also act as a lubricant if you are dry and sore.
• If that doesn’t give you enough relief, you can apply topical lidocaine anesthetic to the areas that hurt you, just a few minutes before intercourse and then you shouldn’t feel any burning pain. You might be wondering what the point is of having sex with anesthetic but if your objective is to have a baby, then the sensation doesn’t really matter. However, if you only use small amounts of lidocaine on the vulva and keep it away from the clitoris, you should be able to feel some pleasure without the pain. The key is getting the dosage right.
• You could try having sex during your period. If you suffer from vaginal dryness and penetration is still too painful, the menstrual flow can act like a lubricant. Of course, there is less chance of getting pregnant at this time of the month but as sperm can live up to a week inside your body, there is still a small chance you will get pregnant. If you have not been able to have intercourse, you could try at this time for a few months until you are used to having penetrative sex.
• Try to have intercourse in a bath tub. The water can be soothing to sore skin and ease vulval burning. It’s also a good place to stay afterwards to minimize post-coital pain.
• Do breathing exercises during intercourse to control any pain. Focus on your goal, that of having a baby. Visualize your baby in your arms and it will make any pain seem worth it.
• If you are in very severe pain and cannot have penetrative sex at all, you can buy syringes and use them to insert sperm. Some couples affected by vulvodynia have had a baby by DIY artificial insemination!
• Go to a fertility specialist. Vulvodynia is a medical problem that can prevent pregnancy so women do have the option of having IUI under general anesthetic.

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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