Truthfully, I still struggle to share my story. Not out of embarrassment or shame, but because I feel like I’m complaining. I don’t want to sound whiny and I know that there are women who have suffered even longer than I did.
When I look at the big picture though, it wasn’t a walk in the park. It took me three years to get a proper diagnosis and nearly another seven to become pain-free(ish).
I think of what I would say to another woman sharing her story. I know I wouldn’t downplay it no matter how unimportant she thought she was. So here it goes…
HOW IT ALL STARTED
My husband and I knew that we were going to start a family right away. I stopped taking the pill and the week of my wedding I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t put two and two together at the time, but that’s when the burning stopped.
In hindsight I think it was a combination of stopping the pill and the hormones from pregnancy. When it came time to deliver my first born, I had to have an episiotomy. The procedure itself didn’t have any complications and I was told that everything was stitched up like normal. I do remember having a lot of difficulty getting in and out of bed afterwards because I was so sore. Other than how to clean the wound I was given zero instructions on how to care for the incision.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
At my six-week checkup I was told that everything had healed and I was given the ok to have sex again. I mentioned to my midwife that I still felt sore. She explained that it’s very common after childbirth and to just give it some more time. The first time my husband and I tried I was very nervous. I was afraid the incision was going to rip, but that quickly became the least of my concern. Something felt wrong, painful even. It felt like the opening was being pulled apart. Since this was the first time since my son was born and I thought it was normal.
Unfortunately, things didn’t get better. They grew increasingly worse. The feeling went from strong discomfort to unbearable. Initial penetration was the worst. I would feel a stabbing, tearing pain at the opening. Once we got past that part the feeling never fully went away. I just got good at ignoring it so we could continue. Eventually the burning sensation came back and was even worse than before. The only way I can describe it is it felt like acid being poured on my skin. It was excruciating. You would think once we were done the pain would stop, but it would increase in intensity. I’d often go to the bathroom to cry alone. The discomfort lingered for days, sometimes weeks, after sex. I couldn’t comfortably stand, walk, or sit without being in extreme pain.