Saturday June 10th 2017

This event took place in Chi Hall, part of the Heartlands Mine Regeneration Project in Camborne/Pool. It was a wild, windy and rainy day, but despite this we were delighted that 13 women made it to the event and contributed to the lively discussion.

Dr Lisa Haddon, consultant Sexual Health Physician started the morning off with an excellent presentation about vulval pain in general, what can cause pain and how pain is investigated. She took us through the steps involved in managing pain, both medical and non-medical.

We discussed who in a health care setting might get involved in caring for women with vulval pain and described our set up in Cornwall with regard to our monthly Multi-disciplinary Team Meeting (MDT), which has proved so helpful to us as clinicians. Lisa also talked about the use of psychosexual therapy when pain is impacting on their sexual life or libido, what can be offered in Cornwall. The session was very interactive, with lots of discussion.

Then Dr Anna Weiss, Consultant Anaesthetist/Pain Consultant gave a talk about the drugs that are used to help vulval pain and described how they can benefit many people by soothing the pain, especially during a flare up. The Pain Clinic team work holistically to help people learn to manage and cope with their pain including access to counselling, hypnotherapy and acupuncture – Anna brought along some acupuncture needles to show how fine and small they are.

After more coffee and some delicious cakes, Ms Rachel Collett, Women’s Health Physiotherapist explained how she assesses women with vulval pain. She takes a very holistic view, which includes looking at posture and how we stand and sit, exercises including yoga and toilet habits – even how we sit on the toilet can be important! We looked at models of the pelvis and learnt about how important our pelvic floor is and how it can go wrong.

We practised sitting in the best position for our pelvic floor when going to the loo, and even learnt how that making noises like a gruffalo, a snake and even mooing like a cow can help our pelvic floors relax and be in the best position for opening our bowels.

Dr Liz Venner, Associate Specialist in Dermatology also spoke briefly about vulval skin care, and reminded everyone about the importance of avoiding irritants such as strong soaps and shower gels, wet wipes and being aware that even some sanitary pads and toilet paper can be irritant to the vulval skin.

Throughout the course of the morning we all talked about the issues generally concerning vulval pain, the difficulty women have in getting a diagnosis, the lack of media awareness and sad to say the lack  of awareness even amongst health care professionals. We also discussed use of other possible treatments such as hypnotherapy and explored how we could use social media to improve knowledge and awareness locally.

The feedback from the women attending was very positive and 100% said the morning was useful, that they would attend again, and that the venue and location were also good.

We will certainly look towards putting on another event in the future.

Report provided by Dr Liz Venner