Did you know…? (Women’s pain, once more)

20 Aug

(Originally posted to the Community section of MyMedia)

Who here knew that men can be diagnosed with–and die from–breast cancer?

Oh, you didn’t. Well, it’s true.

It is a hell of a lot less common than prostrate cancer, but it happens. It has also had some pretty visible crusaders among famous/celebrity women, and it’s seen often as a blameless illness: it’s in the genes, so if anyone in your family had it at some point, it’s not your ‘fault’ you got it.

But, what about vulvodynia or vaginismus?

First, who is just hearing about these for the first time right now?

Yeah, thought so.

Two main reasons there’s so little knowledge or conversation around these:

  • One, women rarely talk about pain during intercourse. We have been told that first penetration hurts (that pesky hymen!), and we have been taught and socialized to be either madonnas (sexual agency? what sexual agency?) or whores (what do you mean, it hurts? are you defective or something?). So, talking about pain during sex means that you are having sex, and that you suck at it.
  • Second reason? Most doctors dismiss our pain offhand, regardless of the complaint, and regardless of the evidence. Doctors, male and female, have been socialized that women are whiners who complain over everything, no matter how trivial, and they are often not even aware of how entrenched that belief is–they just react.

Also, to no one’s surprise–if you are a woman or if you have been paying any attention–there’s little to no funding for these conditions. Those are women-only conditions, there’s nobody got time or money for that, least of all the government.

While prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and erectile dysfunction are men-only diseases, so of course there’s interest and money and time.

Shocking, I know.

Ranting aside: if you are a cis female for whom penetrative sex is painful, this is NOT ‘the way it’s supposed to be.’ It will likely be difficult to find a health practitioner who will listen to you (what else is new?) but persevere: you are not defective, and you shouldn’t be forced by society’s expectations to suffer in silence and isolation.

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