Friday, July 9, 2010

Making Progress

I had my three month follow-up appointment with Dr. Goldstein yesterday.  It went very well.  Before I tell you what happened in the appointment I'll tell you the changes that I have personally noticed since starting the Estradiol:

-the overall burning problem has all but disappeared.  I occasionally have it, but that's a drastic difference from feeling the burning almost all the time.
-Sitting for long periods of time does not make my vagina burn (there's still a bit of discomfort, but no burning) - I recently went to Italy and the 9 hour plane rides did not cause burning.  :)
-My vagina feels more moist in general - it's not a "I'm turned on and my vagina is moist" thing, it's just a general moistness.
So when I had my feet up in the stirrups (they were animal print and furry this time, by the way, and quite comfy) the first thing Dr. G. said was that my vagina visually looked better.  He could tell just from looking at it that the tissue was healing. 
Then he did the Q-tip test.  In almost all the places that I had originally given a grade of 7 out of 10 on the pain scale had NO PAIN AT ALL when he touched them with the q-tip.  There was one area that is still sensitive and I know why, because I haven't been putting the estradiol there when it turns out I should have been.  But this is really something.  I mean, 3 months ago that q-tip made me cringe in pain and yesterday, other than that one spot, there was zero pain.  He also tested my muscles and even they were improved even though I haven't been doing PT in the last 3 months.  However, it makes perfect sense that when there's less pain, the muscles won't involuntarily clench as much.

They took blood in order to check my hormone status now.  I have a feeling that it may be higher, but still not as high as it should be.  In Dr. G's words, I did have the hormones of a 45 year old menopausal woman, so I'm hoping to at least be down to a 40 year old pre-menopausal woman at this point (I'm 27 in reality).  Dr. G. asked me if I've been feeling any more desire or even had any sexy dreams or anything like that.  Unfortunately, no.  However last night I had one of those naked in public dreams, does that count?

Dr. G. still doesn't seem like he thinks that there is any need for me to be on anxiety meds, but he said he was okay with it.  So I will continue to take those and see if they can just give me the nudge I need to break through my sexual fear.

So I'm supposed to continue using the Estradiol, especially in the spot that I've been missing, and I'm also supposed to start back with PT to get those muscles where they should be.  I feel very encouraged and hopeful about all the physical stuff.

And I continue to hope that once the physical stuff is solved, the mental stuff will start loosening up too.


Aurelia said...

I am so glad you are experiencing some relief!

the girl with pain "down there" said...

Thanks! I'm starting to think there actually is hope!

Slaon said...

Oh wow, I am so happy for you! What an improvement in your pain.
Best of luck with PT. I'm currently doing PT and it's definitely helping me, along with medication.
This is such an emotional condition; I completely understand about crying when talking about it. I'm a basket case sometimes! lol
I hope you (and all of us) continue to heal!

the girl with pain "down there" said...

Thank you Sloan. I've been working towards this for so long, but I finally have something concrete to prove to myself that I am getting better. It's a really good feeling. The key was getting my tissue healed from the atrophe caused by birth control, which the PT just couldn't help me with. Now that the tissue isn't so raw, the PT will be much more effective, I'm sure. I am so greatful to the Estradiol gel - it is really working. My hormones are slowly getting back up to where they should be and my vagina doesn't feel raw and burny all the time anymore.

Husband said...

That is GREAT news! We are on week 3 of the Estradiol gel. Still too early to tell on the improvement side. We are seeing the increased moistness you mentioned in your earlier posts which is encouraging. At this point we will take whatever we can get. We have been dealing with this for 10 years now, which seems like a crazy long time. If this works it is a great relief but at the same time it is rather frustrating that we have gone to more Dr's than I can count over the years and Dr. G came up with in answer/solution in less than two hours. Ohh well stay positive and focus on the fact that things are improving :-)

Also, thanks for your detailed notes, based on your post my wife has expanded the area she is applying the cream too and has found a few areas that are also sore, so hopefully that will reduce the number of problems found at her followup.

the girl with pain "down there" said...

That is great. I'm so glad that my comments have helped her expand where she puts the Estradiol. The place I was missing was on the bottom part of the vagina - like if you're looking at the pelvic clock it would be in the 5-7 hour area. I have to apply it with my thumb because of the angle, which is why I had been missing it before - I was using my forefinger. I hope that helps her know more specifically the area I was missing. So glad my blog is helping you! I understand the frustration with seeing so many doctors, but now we are actually on the road to healing this problem. It's a wonderful feeling!

Pearl said...

Ah, yes the 5-7 o'clock area is hard to reach :) Glad to read an update from you!

Faith said...

did you have pain only at the bottom of the vestibule? Also, do you get dryness when your period ends?

I think hormones are involved with me, but gynos all have said the levels are fine.

the girl with pain "down there" said...

With the Q-tip test at this point I only have pain at the bottom of the vestiule, which is a true testament to the Estradiol.

I'm actually not sure if I get more dry after my period. I'll have to pay attention to that the next time it comes around.

And if I've learned anything, it's don't trust your gyno when he/she says that your hormones are fine. I had several tell me they were fine and they are far from fine. Goldstein tests them in some kind of different way (I wrote a post called Testing Hormones that talks about that).

Anonymous said...

This may be a slightly graphic question, but I am curious. My pain symptom has been pain along the labia minora. The entrance of the vagina, the vestibule, seems almost normal but the labia minora are always sore and stingy. Did you suffer a similar symptom? Has the compounded estradiol ointment helped this area?

the girl with pain "down there" said...

I haven't really had any problems with the labia minora, but that doesn't mean that the Estradiol wouldn't help that area if you tried (although I'm no doctor so I have no idea). My main problem is the vestibule.

And there's nothing too graphic on this blog! :)

Anonymous said...

Haha, how true! I feel like ever since I have gotten vulvodynia I am far more comfortable talking about that region of my body. Thanks for the prompt response!

Anonymous said...

you said there's less pain since you started using the cream...are you able to have sex? (if you don't mind me asking?)

the girl with pain "down there" said...

Technically, yes, we are having sex. But it's a slow moving in and out that doesn't come to fruition at the end. We only do it for about ten minutes and it's more like stretching and clinical practice than what I would call "having sex". There is penetration so I'm sure it would be called sex technically.