Sexual Health and Pelvic Pain

Our sexual health and pelvic pain team was created to provide patients the most comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to pelvic pain, sexual health and vulvar pain.

Sexual health

We are pleased to offer many services relevant to sexual health, including menopause health, transgender care and graft versus host patients. Our physicians have expertise in menopause medicine and some are even certified by the North American Menopause Society. We are also very proud to be a leader in transgender care. We have a specialized clinic designed to manage transgender patients. The clinic is managed in collaboration with our reproductive endocrinology experts.

Graft versus host diasease

Graft versus host disease (GVHD) can manifest throughout the body after a successful bone marrow transplant. Many female patients can experience severe symptoms of lack of estrogen in the vagina but it may occasionally be complicated by GVHD presenting in the vagina and vulva. This process is a relatively newer diagnosis, however, at The University of Kansas Hospital we have relatively extensive experience in evaluating and managing this disease.

Pelvic pain

While some pelvic pain can be the result of acute events, such as ovarian torsion, ectopic pregnancies or appendicitis, persistent or chronic pelvic pain often leads patients to our clinic. Other patients will present to our clinic due to painful intercourse or vulvar disease. We often find these disease processes overlap.

Vulvar disease has many etiologies that will require specialized and extensive evaluation and an evidence-based approach to management strategies. Our physicians are experts in this area and apply the most innovative approaches to complicated cases.

Chronic pelvic pain is defined as pelvic pain not related to the menstrual cycle that has been present for at least 3-6 months. It is a poorly understood diagnosis that can have a tremendous impact on a patient's quality of life, including relationships, employment and sexual health.

It has been estimated that chronic pelvic pain can affect 1 out of 7 women. It is most common in reproductive age women but can occur in menopause. The cause of chronic pelvic pain is poorly understood. However, we know it is often multifactorial, which means there are many factors that contribute to the disease process.

Effective management strategies of chronic pelvic pain require a thorough understanding of the multiple body systems that may be affected, including gynecologic, gastrointestinal, bladder, musculoskeletal, neurologic or psychiatric. Additionally, an integrated management plan with appropriate experts is the key to superior outcomes. We have worked to develop and identify leading experts in their fields to assist in patient care.

Our goal of providing a multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach to chronic pelvic pain can result in complete resolution of symptoms for some patients. For other patients our goal will be to improve our patient's quality of life.

We are committed to providing our patients complete and innovative care for these very frustrating disease processes.

Pelvic pain management strategies offered

  • Pharmacotherapy – including the use of anti-inflammatory medications and medications that alter the nerve perception of pain
  • Hormonal management – including birth control pills and progesterone IUDs
  • Counseling – specialized counselors on pain psychiatry and sexual health
  • Physical therapy – specialists in pelvic floor physical therapy
  • Nerve blocks – trigger point injections or nerve blocks
  • Surgical evaluation and management
  • Mesh removal
  • Bladder installations
  • Nerve stimulator implantation
  • Complementary alternative medicine
  • Botox injections

Our doctors

Patient information

What can I expect as a patient?

We are privileged that you would trust us to provide care for you. We understand that pelvic pain and/or painful intercourse can be a pervasive and frustrating experience. We know that it can impact almost every aspect of your life and affect relationships.

We are committed to working with you towards a solution. Frequently, chronic pain is multifactorial and will require a multi-prong approach to improvement. We will bring the most up-to-date evidence-based approach to your specific case. We will establish a plan of care and explain our recommendations.

In order to provide excellent care we will need your participation. We will ask you to complete an extensive questionnaire and help us obtain previous medical records (when appropriate).

The visit will begin with an interview during which we will obtain a complete history and establish your goal for care. When you are comfortable and give permission we will progress to a physical exam. Throughout the exam we will explain what we are doing and ask for feedback. (If at any point you wish to stop the exam your provider will stop the exam.)

Once we have completed these important parts of the visit we may ask for additional tests and/or studies. We will explain the tests and what we are evaluating.

Every patient and visit is different; for some patients we may be able to provide a working diagnosis at the end of the first visit and for others we may need to obtain testing results before we can provide a possible diagnosis. Please be prepared that there may not be one singular term for the disease process causing your symptoms. In fact, many times there will be multiple body systems that will need to be evaluated or treated. We will work with you and your goals to lay out an extensive plan of care and do our best to answer your questions.

This is a partnership. We will rely on you to guide our care and we will provide the best evidence-based solutions possible to our recommendations.

Please note we are not a pain management center and do not provide long-term narcotic prescriptions or provide medical disability for non-surgical patients. Evidence does not support the use of narcotic medications for chronic pain. Studies are lacking proving that narcotics are helpful in controlling chronic pain. In fact, the negative consequences of narcotic use outweigh any potential benefit.

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