As open as I am about having vulvodynia, there are times when I feel incredibly self-conscious and a little embarrassed about it. Today is one of those days.
I had pelvic floor PT yesterday and my physical therapist recommended a few products to order on Amazon. I got online today and added a TheraWand, a lubricant, and a book to my cart. I placed library holds on the other books she suggested. I understand that these things are important for me to get and will help me learn about and work through my pain. I am more than willing to try.
Even more than the stigma to not talk about vaginal pain, there is a cultural stigma around buying something for vaginal pain that says HIDE IT. Hide your pain. Hide your lubricant. Hide your books. Read them only in the privacy of your home. And for the love keep that thing… the TheraWand?… in a locked box under your bed.
Why am I having anxiety about whether or not other people can view my Amazon purchase history? I shouldn’t care if people know I purchased these things that my doctor recommended. And yet, I do. The anxiety is still there. It is so deeply engrained. It is an interesting thing to simultaneously feel anxious and silly for feeling anxious.
Of course this stigma doesn’t end at vaginal pain. It moves to purchases for intimacy, other health problems, mental health products, nursing, etc. These are incredibly personal things. And I think a lot of the times we worry about how others will perceive us out of context. We pass judgement way too easily on others without first understanding their story or simply being empathetic. Someone who is allergic to her husband’s sperm may get dirty looks in the checkout line for buying condoms in bulk– when it is the only way for them to have intercourse without burning pain. Someone who has severe anxiety might get the side-eye for bringing his weighted lap-blanket at work… at least he is at work! Someone might get teased by their friends for having a SquattyPotty, even though it is necessary as otherwise they struggle with constipation. Someone might look at my Amazon purchases and pass judgement on me…
These were just the first few examples that popped into my head. There are so many more.
Anyways, I have to run. And this was more of a vent post than anything… allowing myself to recognize and work through this anxiety. But in the process I remembered something: I hope that we (myself included) can avoid passing unrighteous judgement today.