Ask almost any woman and she will tell you that, at some point in her life, she has had questions or symptoms related to her vulva or vagina. Menstruation, pads or tampons, discharge, odor, pubic hair, arousal, self-pleasuring, sex with penetration, contraception, fertility, safe sex, pregnancy and birth effects, postpartum and breastfeeding, self-image, sexual identity, sexually transmitted infections, pain with sex, lumps, bumps, urination, defecation, libido, itching, burning, inability to have penetration, inability to be touched, vulvar cancer. The list is long, and the questions and symptoms a woman has are often about more than simple biology: they relate to her relationships, her sense of self, her feelings of connectedness.
Yet, for a variety of reasons, including lack of training (especially about sexuality), overspecialization, insurance reimbursement policies and sexism, far too few health care providers have the training and knowledge that would allow them to fully address these questions and symptoms. In response, ob-gyn Elizabeth G. Stewart (author of “The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide To Complete Vulvovaginal Health”) and certified nurse midwife Ione Bissonnette created the online learning program Vulvovaginal Disorders: An Algorithm for Basic Adult Diagnosis and Treatment. In 2021, Our Bodies Ourselves began a partnership with the creators, and the program now lives under the OBOS umbrella.
Geared primarily to health care providers, the site is patient-focused and includes a pathway through the patient visit, from complaint to diagnosis. Accompanying the diagnostic algorithm are detailed, evidenced-based annotations that explain each step, a color atlas of skin conditions, information on microscopy, pain disorders, sexuality, pelvic floor dysfunction, treatment plans, and patient handouts.
The program is available to all for free, but registration is required. Visit the site now: Vulvovaginal Disorders: An Algorithm for Basic Adult Diagnosis and Treatment.