I became hysterical and when my husband got home I fell down on the floor and just begged him to kill me because I couldn’t do my job, I couldn’t be a wife, I couldn’t take care of my child, and there was no reason for me to go on. – Jane (interviewee)
The doctors told me it was all in my head, that I really couldn't be having any pain because I was no longer testing positive for a urinary tract infection. I would pray before going to see each new doctor. I'd walk in the office thinking, "Please. I don't care if I have cancer at this point. Just tell me it's something so I can learn to deal with it or take steps to make it better." – Kat (interviewee)
I was diagnosed with vulvodynia when I was 20, but I know I had it much longer than that. My family physician had no idea that vulvodynia was a condition and even went so far as to tell me that the pain was all in my head. – A patient of Dr. Echenberg
When the pain first started, I silently continued intercourse. When the pain was severe, I just had to stop. We would try at times, but I couldn't stand the pain. Eventually, my husband quit going to bed with me. He would stay up at night watching porn and satisfying his needs. We were married only two years when the pain started. – Survey Respondent
Your First Visit for Pelvic Pain
Please click here before first visit to hear the first part of a 4 part interview with Dr. Echenberg who explains very clearly what our program is all about.
The following is a description of what to expect at your first visit to Dr. Echenberg’s office. Please read this page carefully prior to your first visit.
If you are like many of the women we see in our program, as described in the audio recordings above, you likely have seen a number of other specialists regarding your pelvic and/or sexual pain symptoms and may have been suffering with these issues for months, years, or even decades.
You may believe you cannot discover anything new that you have not heard before. The first thing you should know is that we will approach your chronic pain symptoms in an entirely different manner than you are probably used to. Dr. Echenberg spends 3+ hours with all new patients. He uses this time to review your questionnaire, listen to your history in great detail, and then perform a specialized exam to look for the specific sources of your pain issues. This exam is unlike a routine GYN exam. There is no speculum used. This exam is more muscular and neurological. Following the exam his treatment team will create and review a detailed, personalized management plan for you. A large portion of this visit is dedicated to educating you on your body and how pain is processed. The research on pain has exploded in the past 10 years and is showing the importance of individuals understanding their bodies as much as possible in order to manage their pain.
We apologize for the wait time for you to come into to see Dr. Echenberg. Because Dr. Echenberg spends so much time on this first visit, we are unable to see more than three or four new patients per week. Our comprehensive website is to help provide helpful information in the interim. Please take advantage of this website to learn as much as you can about our overall mission and types of diagnoses that are common in the patients we see. These may range from chronic bladder issues to irritable bowel symptoms, irritation, itching, burning or pain in the vaginal and external genitals, difficulty and pain with sitting, groin pain, no longer able to exercise comfortably, chronic fatigue, bloating and pain in the lower abdomen, chronic low back pain, and sexual discomforts of all descriptions. Common diagnoses and treatments can be found here.
You may have already been told repeatedly that your pain issues have been related to purely gynecologic problems such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic adhesions, PID, vaginal yeast infections, etc. All of these disorders can and do cause continued problems in some women some of the time. However, Dr. Echenberg’s 40 years as a gynecologist has taught him that there are many other “triggers” to chronic pelvic and sexual pain.
Above all, we want you to know that we listen, believe, and understand pain. We also realize how difficult it is to feel so badly, not to be believed and still look like you are healthy. We know that so many of our patients have been lead to believe that the symptoms they have are “in their heads” and often begin to internalize these beliefs. The average age of our patients is quite young (20s to 40s), but we hope that our program will encourage younger girls and women to seek help even earlier than those who have come before them.
The subsequent visits to our office 30 - 60 minutes long and will often involve indicated treatments, balancing medications, following your ability to maintain daily activities and quality of life, keeping you out of the emergency room and/or operating room unless absolutely needed, and making sure referrals to the other modalities such as physical therapy, counseling, mind/body relaxation, and/or any other referrals are up to date. We work with you and proceed at your own pace.
Again, we hope you take advantage of exploring our site and our other resources before you arrive for your first visit. We do know that our program will educate you greatly about your body, your symptoms, and how you and your body have reacted to a variety of traumas, both past and present, leading to your current symptomatic experience. As you will learn, both pain and inflammation are essential for our survival, but when either or both of those bodily protective mechanisms get out of control, we begin to see chronic illnesses that are very common and yet remain “invisible” to a large part of the health care community.
Our entire team welcomes you to our program.