I have Vulvodynia and Endometriosis.
These chronic pain conditions in my vulva region make sex painful, if not impossible, and for many women can lead to not only physical but emotional and mental problems.
My problems began when I was 11-years old. I had extreme abdominal pain and underwent exploratory surgery. They ended up removing my left ovary and fallopian tube due to a very large cyst that had cut off blood supply to my ovary. This was not endometriosis, but the beginning of a long journey with pelvic pain. I have since had four or five surgeries for endo and 11 pelvic surgeries total.
For four long years as an adult, I experienced sharp, stabbing, burning pain in my pelvic area, making it impossible to enjoy sexual intimacy with my boyfriend, Jason (now my husband). The pain was agonising and impacted my quality of life.
I went to many doctors who failed to diagnose my condition and, sadly, underwent several unsuccessful operations. How bad was my medical advice? One OB/GYN told me to drink wine and take some Advil before sex. I really could not believe what I was hearing. So I continued my research journey every night on the web trying to find out what could be causing this horrible pain.
Searching for answers to heal my pelvic pain
I went to a pelvic pain specialist who did not even examine me. Instead, he wanted to put me on an antidepressant for the pain. I told him that I did not want to be on medication for this issue and alter who I am as a person. He actually snapped at me and told me that he was just giving me options. Another one of his brilliant ideas was just to cut that part out that hurts. I politely refused. He was the kind of doctor who only cared about money and not helping the patient. He offered no prognosis and I never went back to him.
Finally, I had enough. I took my medical condition into my own hands. Searching for an answer went on for years until I ran across an article on Vulvodynia and I realised that is what I had.
An opportunity to help others
From my previous positive experience using neodymium magnets to reduce back and neck nerve pain after a car accident, I had a “lightbulb moment” to add neodymium magnets into a vaginal dilator. I was so excited. I know neodymium magnets work great for nerve pain so I called my husband and told him we had to make this device to try. Within two weeks I could have sex again with little pain. That’s when I decided I had to help others.
With the help of medical experts and advisers, I turned my idea into a nonprescription vaginal dilator device and startup business to relieve the pain and sexual discomfort experienced by so many women today. The dilator device has allowed me and over 8,000 women all over the world to live a more normal life and finally enjoy sex without pain. It has also improved relationships, marriages and even helped couples expand their families.
During my stressful and painful time, Jason was 100 percent supportive and caring. He felt bad that I was hurting and never pressured me to have sex. He understood that the pain was not an excuse and my agony was real. He also realized it was not my fault. We always had a strong relationship that wasn’t based just on sex. Now that we can have pain free sex it makes our marriage even more meaningful. My advice to men: Please be supportive. Sexual pain should not end a caring, loving relationship.
To date, it’s been an amazing, surprising and fulfilling ride. My passion and mission are to spread awareness to women who are not receiving the correct diagnosis from their doctors. Women who need to know they do not have to live with painful intercourse and pelvic pain and that there are safe alternative treatments other than surgeries. There is hope and there are answers.
Tara Langdale-Schmidt, 33, is the founder of VuVa Tech http://www.vuvatech.com in Florida, a medical device company that helps women suffering from pelvic pain.