Report from Canterbury Vulval Pain Society Workshop at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Saturday 12 April 2008

The Vulval Pain Society held a workshop for women and partners with vulval problems at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on 12 April 2008. We were fortunate to be invited by Dr Claire Fuller, who is a Consultant Dermatologist in the Canterbury area. It was a great day with around 25 women and partners attending. Most of the women had vulvodynia and lichen sclerosus and we were able to share both information and patient experiences amongst the group.

David Nunns gave a general lecture on the management of vulvodynia, sex-related pain and lichen sclerosus and covered many aspects of treatment.

In the afternoon a lecture was given by Nathalie Bachet, a local acupuncturist, to talk generally about acupuncture in chronic pain management and as a treatment for general stress, anxiety and well-being, which are common problems in chronic conditions. Many of the women there had tried acupuncture with success, so the talk was of interest to the group.

Many themes recur in workshops and this really relates to access to good medical care and the current problems of fragmentation of care between different specialists, e.g. physiotherapists, sex therapists and doctors. Another recurring theme was the lack of time patients get with doctors and also how often there can be perceived to be a lack of a management plan and cohesive treatment. Things are better, however, than they have been in the past with more focus on diagnosis and the realisation that teamwork is probably the likely way forward for many women with vulval pain.

The information days are a good resource day to get contacts of health professionals and tips on treatment that are not necessarily medically prescribed. The day was very informal - as most workshops are - and was focused on women and their partners.

Our thanks go to Claire Fuller for being our host.