Report from the Shrewsbury Vulval Pain Society Workshop held at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, 19 September 2009

The VPS were invited to Shrewsbury to organise a workshop at the request of the Welsh Marches Vulval Pain Support Group. Around 30 women and 5 partners attended. Whilst many were from the local area, several women had travelled from as far away as Cambridge and Weymouth. The morning focused on the clinical aspects of vulval problems, getting a diagnosis and treatments. In the afternoon Dr Daian Zou, a local acupuncturist, kindly gave her time to discuss what treatment entails for women with vulval pain. Acupuncture is suggested as a treatment for vulval pain as it is an effective treatment for chronic pain in general. The day was informal as usual with opportunities to ask questions and share experiences. Many questions revolved around getting referrals to the right health professionals – getting to see a specialist and the wider specialist team. The current system of managing chronic pain, which is a medical model, does not often help many patients, and a team-based approach using a physiotherapist, sex therapist and even a pain management team, i.e. a holistic approach, is probably the best way forward for most patients. 

The need for hope was a main issue for many women. Many did see their own problem as hopeless and could see little light at the end of the tunnel. As a doctor, I do see people who manage to turn their pain around and get better. However, patients on the road to recovery will not usually come to workshops (which involves education and sharing a recent diagnosis with other women). Women with vulval pain can see a hopeless, confusing view of vulval pain when trawling the vast amount  of information on the internet, and sometimes the negativity portrayed can influence healing, whilst staying positive remains an important part of getting better.

Further information about the Welsh Marches Vulval Pain Support Group who hosted the workshop 

My name is Brenda and I run the Welsh Marches Vulval Pain Support Group which has about 22 Members to date. The group was founded in 2008 and covers Cheshire, Shropshire, East Wales and Herefordshire, but we also have quite a few Members from outside that area. We never turn anyone away and everyone is welcome to join. We meet approximately every two months at The Lord Moreton, which is on the A5 between Wrexham and Oswestry, or The Grapes, which is on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, close to the Oxon Park and Ride. We are open to suggestion should anyone request a different venue. We usually combine the Meeting with lunch, and always request a private table, away from the other diners. We usually meet on a Saturday or a weekday evening. Should we decide to invite a guest speaker, we would meet at the Hamar Centre or a similar suitable venue.

At our Meetings, Members have the opportunity to talk through their problems, if they wish to do so. Women with vulval pain tend to feel isolated. Friends, and sometimes family, are unaware of their condition. Sometimes Members feel as if a weight has been lifted from their shoulders, as I did, when they realise that there are other women out there experiencing similar, if not identical, problems to the ones that they are experiencing themselves. Women usually leave our Meetings feeling that life is not so bad after all, and eager to try out the advice suggested by other Members. By being part of a support group you get to hear all about the up and coming new treatments available for vulval pain.

We are looking forward to David Nunns’s next visit which will be on a Wednesday, the evening 31 March 2010 at 7.00 pm at the Hamar Help and Support Centre. This will be a smaller event than the Workshop and we hope to have some medical people present.