'How magnets saved my sex life'
As told to Jo Hartley
TARA Langdale was 33 when she first started experiencing the excruciating pain of vulvodynia. The sharp, stabbing and burning pain in her pelvic area was so extreme that it was impossible to enjoy sex with her future husband.
"I initially thought my symptoms were part of my endometriosis and the slight stinging in the entrance to my vagina would go away," she tells whimn.com.au. "It didn't. Month by month the pain increased. It was like someone was burning me with a hot iron and the last thing I wanted to do was have sex with Jason.
When we did try to have sex the symptoms occurred and, after eight months, I couldn't have sex at all. The pain was just too unbearable.
But doctors insisted everything was normal
I went to the doctors multiple times but was told that nothing was wrong. One doctor actually told me to take a panadol and drink wine to relax. Another doctor gave my compounded creams to try, but that didn't work.
My gynecologist and a pelvic pain specialist couldn't help either. Without even examining me, the specialist said he could cut out the part that hurt or put me on an antidepressant to help numb the pain. Neither was an option for me.
But, I needed an answer. We were getting married and the thought of never being able to have enjoyable sex again was depressing. I didn't even think we'd be able to have sex on our wedding night.
My lightbulb moment
After researching and confirming with my doctor that I had Vulvodynia, which he didn't know how to treat, I had my 'lightbulb moment.' I'd previously used magnets to reduce back and neck pain after a car accident, so thought I'd try to incorporate them into a vaginal dilator.
I worked with a friend, medical experts and advisers and we conducted a proper clinical trial.
Finding women who knew they had vulvodynia proved harder than expected, and it took us over a year to find enough study subjects to start the trial. But the trial was very successful, so I knew it was full steam ahead. VuVa tech was born.
How it works
The way the dilators work is by expanding the vaginal walls and adding elasticity to the tissues. The neodymium magnets in the dilator help increase blood flow and, because the soft tissue lengthens, relaxing muscles and ligaments, sex is comfortable and enjoyable.
I started using my dilator regularly and always used it half an hour before having sex. One of the first times after I'd had sex with Jason (after using the dilator) I cried. I couldn't believe it had worked. It was the first time we had had enjoyable sex in five years.
Using it has become part of my sex routine now but the amount I have to use it has lessened. I love my dilators and never go on a trip without them.
Hope and answers
Since I launched the dilator three years ago, I've had the most amazing reviews. I've heard from women who thought they'd never be able to have another child and are now pregnant, women who were able to enjoy their wedding night and women who hadn't had sex for years after marriage.
It's now become my passion and mission to spread awareness about pelvic pain to women who aren't receiving diagnosis from their doctors. Women need to know that they don't have to live with painful intercourse and pelvic pain. There are safe alternative treatments other than surgeries. There's hope and there are answers.