Thursday, January 1, 2009

On the Non-Sexiness of Uncontroversial Issues

It's one thing to speak out about your favorite political candidate, your abortion stance, your religion or lack thereof, your ideas about the president, your ideas about the way others live.

It's another thing entirely to speak out about vulvodynia. Vulvodynia involves one of the most giggle-inducing parts of the human body. Not only that, it involves MY giggle-inducing part and how it's doing today. Which would you rather put up on the public shelf -- your thoughts on Barack Obama or the status of your crotch?

It only makes sense that every time I share my posts elsewhere online, I wince a little. Who wouldn't? We all know we never really outgrow middle school -- we just learn to operate around that idiot part of our brains. I'm sure that some people find my vulvodynia as laughable as headgear.

Plus, relative to political issues, vulvodynia is boring. While some eddies of medical discourse can get heated at times -- diets, for example -- most health topics are matters of fact, not opinion. When I talk about politics, I'm a sexy, opinionated citizen of the world thrust into battle with menacing rivals. When I talk about vulvodynia, I'm a schoolmarm in lecture, glasses low on the nose.

Regardless of the fact that medicine will influence most people's lives far more than discrete political issues or particular political personalities, people will always chant more about politics than about diseases. How much sexier to quantify your hatred and offense on one side of the latest hot-button issue! Well, take it from someone who knows: hot-button issues figure much, much less in life than the state of one's own personal hot button, even if talking about it couldn't be less sexy.


  1. Well said!

    So, apart from blogging to raise awareness, what are you doing about it? Does a foundation for vulvodynia already exist? If not, can you start one? Is there a network of survivors that not only mutually support each other, but also raise money for research?

  2. I thought schoolmarms were uncontroversially sexy.

    Your blog is much more interesting and informative than any of the political blogs I read, if that helps at all.

  3. Jennie: there are a few vulvodynia foundations, but I'm not sure how much awareness-raising they accomplish: National Vulvodynia Foundation (;; NIH has a vulvodynia campaign ( I may have some others in the sidebar.

    I think these are all good efforts, but I don't know how effective they are if so many doctors are unaware of it. I've dreamed of things like writing letters to the doctors who failed to diagnose me (still stewing on that one) and making an icon for people to stick on MySpace, Facebook, their blogs, etc., but so far I haven't actually done anything but dream. I also feel a little bit lost as to how to raise awareness best without getting a megaphone.

    I'm not aware of a network, but I know that even over the past two years there's been more and more conversation about it online. That's encouraging. Thanks for all your ideas!

    Greg: Thanks :) And yes, I'm sure some get turned on by tepid lecture.