Unspoken Pain: LGBTQ Pelvic Health | Advice

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I'm reaching out because I'm in a bit of a tough spot and could really use some advice.

Lately, I've been dealing with some pelvic pain, and it's starting to mess with my sex life. I'm part of the LGBTQ community, and it's already hard enough to talk about sexual health issues without feeling judged or misunderstood. I'm worried about how this is going to affect my relationships and my overall happiness. Can you shed some light on how pelvic pain can impact sexual wellness? Also, any tips on how to bring this up with a healthcare provider who is LGBTQ-friendly here in South Florida would be a huge help.

I'm truly sorry to hear about the challenges you're facing. Pelvic pain, especially when it impacts your sexual wellness, can feel incredibly isolating and overwhelming. Let’s first understand the impact of pelvic pain on your sexual wellness, which can affect your sexual life in several ways. Physically, it can make sexual activity painful or uncomfortable, leading to a condition known as dyspareunia. This isn't just about the immediate pain; it can also lead to longer-term issues like a decreased interest in sex or even a fear of sexual activity due to the anticipation of pain. Emotionally, this can create a cycle of stress and anxiety around sex, which in itself can exacerbate the pain. It's a tough cycle, where physical discomfort leads to emotional distress, which then feeds back into physical symptoms.

When pelvic pain starts affecting your sex life, it can also impact your relationships. It's not uncommon to feel a sense of guilt or inadequacy, and these feelings can put a strain on even the strongest of bonds. The key here is open, honest, and compassionate communication. It's important for your partner or partners to understand what you're going through, not just on a physical level but emotionally as well. This isn't just about finding alternative ways to be intimate, although that's important too, but about fostering an environment where you feel supported and understood.

The mental and emotional toll of dealing with chronic pain, especially when it affects such a personal aspect of your life, can't be overstated. Therapy can be incredibly beneficial, not just for managing the stress and emotional impact of the pain, but also for developing strategies to improve your sexual wellness. Look for therapists, like those at Velvet Psychotherapy Collective, who specialize in sexual health or chronic pain management, and who are LGBTQ-friendly.

Because pelvic pain can feel so isolating, connecting with others who are experiencing similar challenges can be incredibly validating and empowering. Local support groups or online communities focused on pelvic pain or LGBTQ health can be a way to connect with others and reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation. These spaces can provide not only emotional support but also practical advice and resources.

Now to the part of how to bring this up to your doctor. Talking to healthcare providers about this can be daunting, especially within the LGBTQ community where there's a real fear of stigma or misunderstanding, especially if you have experienced medical discrimination or trauma in the past. But here are some tips to navigate talking to your doctor.

First, look for providers who have experience or specialize in LGBTQ health. Organizations like the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) or local LGBTQ health clinics can be good starting points. The Pride Center has a list of providers on their website. When preparing for your appointment, write down your symptoms, any triggers you've noticed, and how the pain is impacting your life. This can help guide the conversation and ensure you cover all the important points. It is important to be clear and specific using clear language about your symptoms and concerns. Don't downplay what you're feeling – your pain is valid and deserves attention. While you're talking to the doctor, it's important to be open about how your pelvic pain is affecting your sexual wellness in an open and honest way. A good healthcare provider will understand the importance of this aspect of your health. Pelvic pain can be complex, and sometimes a team approach is best. This might include a gynecologist, urologist, physical therapist, and even a mental health professional. If you feel your concerns aren't being taken seriously, don't hesitate to seek a second opinion. You deserve to be heard and to receive appropriate care.

I hope this helps you understand your pelvic pain a little better and that you have access to affirming health care providers.

Queerly Beloved is an expertly curated column dedicated to the world of LGBTQ sex, intimacy and relationships that provides education, insights and actionable tips for the reader to enhance their pleasure journey. This column from Kelly Ghweinem, LCSW, will answer questions and provide advice to readers to deepen intimate connections, elevate pleasurable experiences, and empower people. Ghweinem is an established queer-affirming therapist and business owner who champions the LGBTQ+ community through activism and advocacy utilizing a queer, feminist, anti-racist lens. A University at Buffalo graduate, Kelly came to Fort Lauderdale from Manhattan in 2022.

For more information on their practice visit www.velvetcollective.org.

The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice.


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