100 Women: I want to break the stigma of painful sex

This article originally appeared on BBC’s World Service. Written by Phoebe Keane.

One woman’s story of a decade of wrongly diagnosed sexual pain has inspired a play – and with it, the hope that other women with sexual dysfunction can be helped.

It was on a cold winter’s day just over a year ago that actress Emily Francis heard an item on the radio that moved her to tears.

“I felt desperately sad listening to Callista’s story. This problem with her vagina had destroyed her life. She’d lost her relationship, become depressed… it felt tragic,” she says.

Callista, a fashion stylist in San Francisco, had been speaking to BBC 100 Women about her long journey to finding a cure for unbearably painful sex. Continue reading “100 Women: I want to break the stigma of painful sex”

how to stop thinking about it so much (…you can’t…)

The light in the doctor’s office is familiar, as are the colors of the walls and cupboards, the smooth surface of the examination table, the charts on the wall of the nervous and muscular systems. Even the color of the doctors hair is familiar. It seems she is always blonde.  I can’t count the number of doctors anymore, can’t tally the puzzled expressions, the trace lines of doubt stitched around the corners of their eyes and knotted right between the brow. Today she is wearing a cotton candy pink sweater set that matches her glasses, which are also pink, and strung from a glass-beaded chain around her neck. Her slacks do not wrinkle. She is kind, but prim and cool, detached from any emotion I am feeling.  She reaches a hand out and pats my knee, which is exposed through a hole in my jeans that appears vulgar in her presence.

“You’re probably just going to have to live with this for the rest of your life, but I can help you manage your pain.” I’m wading through a deep stream and my legs are catching on reeds in the brackish water. I try to speak but I feel as if I’ve swallowed cotton balls. I begin to cry. She stiffens and says nothing while I weep. Continue reading “how to stop thinking about it so much (…you can’t…)”