When Tara Langdale-Schmidt noticed a “burning, stabbing pain” in her vagina whenever she had sex, her doctor told her to just have a glass of wine and pop some Advil. But she knew she had a problem bigger than painkillers could solve.
Four years of online research led her to identify vulvodynia — chronic pelvic pain — as the source of her discomfort. But arriving at that answer was just the beginning of a long healing process. The compounded creams, lidocaine injections, and antidepressants she was prescribed didn’t work. So, she decided to create her own solution.
Inspired by her mom, who had treated her fibromyalgia using magnets, Langdale-Schmidt put a magnet inside a dialator and inserted it 20-30 minutes before sex. For the first time since she noticed the pain, she was able to have sex with her husband comfortably.
“At the end, I was crying,” she said. “And he said, ‘Why are you crying?’ And it was because we hadn't done that in five years.”
Since last July, Langdale-Schmidt has been selling the VuVa Magnetic Dilator she created. She’s also been spreading awareness about vulvodynia with the hope that other women and their partners won’t have to go through all the confusion, anxiety, and failed treatments she did.
Unfortunately, a lot of doctors aren’t educated about this issue. Pelvic floor physical therapists have provided Langdale-Schmidt with more helpful information about vulvodynia than any other professionals, so she urges other women with the condition to see one before jumping to medication or surgery. There also just isn’t a lot of information out there, partially because people aren’t always comfortable talking about sexuality in general. However, she believes social media and online forums can provide more women and their partners with resources to deal with vulvodynia.
“My mission is just to talk abut it. It's OK. It's like getting migraine headaches,” she said. “They’re still the same person. They just have a condition. I don't want them to be ashamed.”