I'll start with the standard group-counceling-type introduction: Hi, I'm Alex and I've had Vulvar Vestibulitis for about 5 years. Or perhaps more accurately, Vulvar Vestibulitis has had me for about 5 years.

Much of the physical aspects of my VVS story can be found in my case study. Rather, I'd like to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about my "philosophy", so to speak, on vulvar pain. More than anyone else, I know that you all can relate to how painful and frustrating and debilitating this illness can be. And how much it can interfere with the rest of your life.

I have, at one point or another, given up a lot of things because of Vulvar Vestibulitis. Some examples include:

1) sitting (a personal favorite of mine)

2) eating chocolate and fruit (tried a pH diet)

3) sex (still don't but for many reasons)

4) wearing pants (need to borrow a dress? I have lots)

5) riding an exercise bike (I sometimes cheat on this one)

6) going into swimming pools and hot tubs (relaxing now, painful infection later)

There was a point in the path of this illness that I felt one of the worst feelings I'd experienced up to this point in life: despair.

That continued until I realized one thing and that thing helped me to change my outlook on the problem. It's something that had helped me through other times in my life but I had yet to apply it to Vulvar Vestibulitis. The thing that I realized can best be summarized in a single mantra (feel free to steal for your own use): I will turn this negative [problem] into something positive!

I started to force myself to get up with a little bit more pep in my step and thought of all the ways I could turn this painful disease into something good. Not surprisingly, the moment I started to think positively, the ways I could do this started to be pretty apparent.

I changed my choice of profession from pianist (I still did graduate as a piano performance major from college) to doctor (most probably: ob/gyn). I crammed all my premedical classes in the last few semesters of undergrad and studied like crazy for the MCAT. The idea came to me as I considered how I could actually help other women. What were we all most frustrated about? I realized that much of the stress came out of dealing with medical professions who could not understand or relate to how we felt and what we were going through. Ones that didn't take the time to do research on us really difficult patients and, instead, used the cookie-cutter treatments that wouldn't help. Here was me, someone willing and able to understand. I decided to give it a shot

It turned out that Vulvar Vestibulitis provided all the motivation I needed to get through difficult classes and the beast that is the MCAT. Put on top of the that the grueling application and interviewing process and I can see why people quit somewhere along the way. But I felt like I was working for more than just me. It made me work harder and prepare more. End result: I got into several medical schools! And will be on my way to med school this fall.

While I felt like I really was turning something negative into something positive, I felt like I could do more. Yes, I would be a doctor eventually but I still had 8 (8!) more years of school! I had learned all of these things about vulvar pain and had tried several dozen (or more...) treatments. I had even found some that worked and learned to manage my pain. But the way I had learned everything was by scouring the internet and digging through countless horrible, unhelpful, and trashy-ad-plastered websites. Couldn't there be something better?

After some thinking and dreaming, I decided that starting a website devoted to vulvar vestibulitis and general vulvar pain was the way to go. The website is still in it's baby stages. This is the second version of this site, hopefully a much more helpful version of www.vulvarvestibulitisrelief.com. It's my attempt to create a loving and helpful community.

All in all, do I wish that I had never had Vulvar Vestibulitis? It's tempting since the pain it causes is sometimes heartbreaking. But would I trade out everything I've gotten to be part of for no pain? Gun to my head, I'd really have to go with the answer no.