Vulvodynia & Accupuncture

Today’s blog comes from my friend and colleague Dr. Judith Schlaeger, CNM, PhD of Chicago, Illinois.  Judy is a well-respected, popular, licensed Accupuncturist who is an expert in Chinese Medicine and sees patients in Skokie, Illinois.  Judy is currently recruiting women for a study on the affects of accupuncture and vulvodynia.  For more information go to:!/pages/Recruiting-for-a-Study-to-Treat-Vulvodynia-with-Acupuncture-in-Chicago-Area/191771250934420

Vulvodynia is pain in the vulva without any abnormal medical test results. Women report the pain of vulvodynia as aching, spasming, knifing, cutting, stabbing, or pulling. Others report burning, swelling, severe itching, and untreatable foul smelling vaginal discharge.

Vulvodynia has been reported to affect 16% of the adult female population  .  This condition is chronic in nature and most often renders sexual intercourse impossible. Current treatment modalities have produced inconsistent therapeutic outcomes. At most, only 50% of women get symptom relief after receiving treatment .

Women suffer in silence with the pain of vulvodynia. Vulvar pain is a hidden epidemic. Women do not talk about it. They feel ashamed because the symptoms are so “weird”. They believe they are the only ones suffering from this affliction. Most of the time they do not know what this disorder is called, nor sometimes does their physician. All they know is they often cannot sit, Wear tight pants, and cannot have intercourse as the pain is disabling. They try to have intercourse time and again with the same disastrous results, agonizing pain and a frustrated partner. They are worried about their relationships falling apart. They are often exhausted from the chronic pain.

Wherever I go, I meet women with vulvodynia. That’s because I ask women at yoga studios, coffee shops, nail studios, gyms, and community centers to post my flyer recruiting women to participate in my vulvodynia study. Inevitably women will say, “I have that!”; or, “my girlfriend has that!”.

I am a certified nurse midwife and a license acupuncturist. As a nurse midwife, I have seen these patients come to the office in severe pain, and leave with little hope. As an acupuncturist, I have treated and given relief to these women.

Western medical treatments are at best hit or miss. Doctors treat vulvodynia with antidepressants, botox injections, estrogen creams, lidocaine creams, all with mixed results. Some women get some relief some of the time.

I had the opportunity in 2009 to receive my PhD in Chinese Medicine from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine in Guangzhou, China. I am currently conducting a research study on the treatment of Vulvodynia with acupuncture.

Having one foot in Western Medicine and one foot in Traditional Chinese Medicine I am aware Western Medicine has difficulty managing chronic illnesses, especially pain syndromes where the Western medical tests come back negative or normal. Vulvodynia is one of these disorders. Irritable bowel disease and fibromyalgia are two more examples. 

The answer lies in diagnosing and treating people with pain syndromes and especially women with vulvodynia with acupuncture. Chronic pain is treated very effectively using acupuncture because Traditional Chinese Medicine views pain as blocked qi. Qi is the energy of the universe coursing through our bodies which gives us life, warmth, and health. When qi is blocked, pain ensues.

In vulvodynia, the qi is blocked in the genitals. Acupuncture in needles placed in certain acupuncture points in different parts of the body helps unblocked the qi, helps it flow smoothly thus relieving the pain of vulvodynia.

Because I understand the treatment of vulvodynia from a Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, I feel it is my duty and my passion to perform a study to show the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating vulvodynia.

I am recruiting women with vulvodynia ages 18 up to menopause to participate in The Treatment of Vulvodynia with Acupuncture Study”. Participants will complete a set of questionnaires at the beginning and the end of the study. They will receive 10 free acupuncture treatments twice per week for 5 weeks. Acupuncture will be administered at one of three study locations: Glenview, Wilmette, and Logan Square. I am committed to find a cure for this horrible disorder. For more information on this study, please click on my link at!/pages/Recruiting-for-a-Study-to-Treat-Vulvodynia-with-Acupuncture-in-Chicago-Area/191771250934420.




1 Comments to “Vulvodynia & Accupuncture”

  1. MrBiofeedback says:
    Until recently the treatments for Vulvodynia have been limited to the avoidance of vulvar irritants, diet, use of oral and topical medicines, vulvar injections, and surgery. The work of Howard I.Glazer Ph.D. has led to the development of the first non-surgical, non-drug treatment with scientifically demonstrated clinical effectiveness in the treatment of vulvodynia.

    Howard I. Glazer Ph.D., a Clinical Associate Professor at Cornell University Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital, discovered that the muscles of the pelvic floor in vulvodynia patients were abnormal. This abnormality can be measured by highly sophisticated muscle measurement technology known as surface electromyography; a noninvasive procedure much like an electrocardiogram to measure your heart muscle. Once the patients’ exact abnormality is documented, it can be corrected by an individualized program of electromyographic assisted muscle rehabilitation (biofeedback) to assure that the correct changes occur in the muscle.

    Correcting the muscle abnormalities through electromyographic assisted aerobic exercise of the pelvic floor musculature increases blood flow and restores vulvar tissue integrity leading to pain relief. Overall, women undergoing this treatment report an average reduction in pain of 80%. In addition, research reports that 50% of patients become completely pain free by the end of the treatment..

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