Friday, December 3, 2010

Lichen Sclerosis - for the women out there.

If you think I got personal with the depression stuff, this might really shock you.

Warning: this is not for the faint of heart, and men may not be comfortable reading it as it is about female territory. I'm about to be matter of fact about female genitalia, and if you're not comfortable with it, please do not read this ..... Seriously. I can be very open about certain things, and I'm about to really be open here.

From the time I went through puberty, I've been having problems "down there". Every month when my period was close to being over, I got really itchy in the genital area. It wasn't always the same and it lasted a few days each month. I figured it was because I wasn't washing well enough, or then because of the soap I was using, or because of the plastic pads that I had. I went for years - 23 years to be precise - without knowing that I actually had a real, diagnosable condition. I think I mentioned it to a doctor once and he recommended using a different soap. After that, I just put up with it.

As I got older, it went beyond itching. The skin would crack and bleed sometimes. Not every time and not the same each month, but it would happen. There was little relief for it, but it would only last a few days, so I still put up with it.

About 4 years ago, however, I started getting blood blisters. This is not a place you want blood blisters. And I was worried about it. So I looked it up on the Internet and found out about Lichen Sclerosis. It's an uncommon condition, that mostly happens in post-menopausal women. I went to my doctor and he checked it out - to both our embarrassments, I believe - and indeed he was shocked by the condition I was in. So he sent me to a specialist who confirmed that he believed it was L.S.

Very strong topical steroids helped get it under control, and now I used a steroidal gel when it acts up and it is under control. What shocked me was that I'd never, ever heard of the condition and that I had gone 23 years putting up with shame, embarrassment and pain without pursuing it any further. No doctor had noticed anything with pap tests. I had no avenue to even KNOW I needed help until it became utterly unbearable.

This condition can happen in children, but most often occurs in post-menopausal women. My situation doesn't seem to fit the pattern, but they do believe it is linked to hormones, and my monthly cycle seems to confirm that. It can also be found in men - especially on the foreskin. And it can happen in areas that are not genital - but that is less frequent, and I assume less painful.

I wanted to put this out into cyberland in case anyone else had the same problem, or if your daughters experience it. If I can help prevent one other person putting up with this for so long, it's worth the potential embarrassment - even thought this shouldn't be the least bit embarrassing. I had no control over it. This isn't something I chose. But it can be controlled.

There. Done. I hope none of you ever have to deal with it. But at least you know about it now.

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