When Sex Hurts

As an interstitial cystitis support group leader for almost twenty years, I've spent hundreds of hours talking with husbands and wives struggling with intimacy due to pain. Whether it's from a preexisting medical condition, a new illness or pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, there is hope and you are certainly not alone. These books and CD's provide insight into the causes of painful intimacy and, more importantly, offer practical tips and suggestions that may help reduce your discomfort. I've also included some of the products that we've found to be comforting and soothing! - Jill Osborne, ICN President & Founder

Healing Painful Sex
by Deborah Coady MD & Nancy Fish MSW MPH

New 11/11 - Millions of women suffer from sexual and pelvic pain in America today, yet it is frequently misdiagnosed—or not diagnosed at all. In Healing Painful Sex, Deborah Coady, MD and Nancy Fish use their combined professional expertise as a doctor and therapist who specialize in sexual pain to provide readers with an understanding of its many causes and how to treat them, from both a physical and psychological standpoint.

Organized into three parts—naming the problem, getting a diagnosis, and overcoming pain—Healing Painful Sex includes medical checklists, illustrations, vignettes based on interviews with women and their healthcare professionals, treatment options, and guidance for moving forward after healing. Coady and Fish speak honestly and directly to sexual pain sufferers' experiences, helping them address the problem of chronic pain, understand and prevent misdiagnoses, define medical terms and conditions, and regain sexual joy.

Comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and deeply insightful, Healing Painful Sex offers women the tools to successfully take on the many challenges of sexual pain and move toward a healthy, happy future.

382 pages
Seal Press
Available Through Amazon.com

When Sex Hurts 2011

When Sex Hurts: A Women's Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain
Andrew Goldstein MD, Caroline Pukall PhD

While dyspareunia (or, painful sex) is estimated to affect millions of women, it is a condition that causes embarrassment and silence—often going undiscussed or undiagnosed. And while more doctors are beginning to recognize sexual pain as a physiological, not a psychological, condition, most are still quick to prescribe antidepressants and numbing agents to mask the pain instead of treating its cause.

Director of the Centers for Vulvovaginal Disorders Dr. Andrew Goldstein and leading researcher Dr. Caroline Pukall tackle the stereotypes, myths, and realities of dyspareunia, addressing its more than twenty different causes and offering the most up-to-date research. This book provides the long-awaited answers to so many women’s questions.

Frank, authoritative, and accessible, When Sex Hurts helps women understand why they hurt and what can be done about it.

272 pages
Da Capo Lifelong Books (January 11, 2011)
Available Through Amazon.com

Secret Suffering Book

Secret Suffering: How Women's Sexual and Pelvic Pain Affects Their Relationships
Susan Bilheimer & Robert J. Echenberg, MD

When one of every five women between ages 18 and 50 in the United States have sex, it hurts, often badly. Until now, very few patients ever talked about their experience until a new IC hero, Susan Bilheimer, arrived on the scene. A chronic pelvic pain patient, Susan has been a driving force in creating this book and, partnered with Dr. Robert Echenberg, now offers hope and encouragement to the millions of women struggling with this condition.

Secret Suffering: Understanding Women's Sexual Pain and How That Affects Relationships has it all. Patient stories, a husbands point of view, a same sex couples experience with pelvic pain, the dilemma confronting single women with chronic pain, faith and the poignant story of two men who experience sexual pain. They talk about the difficulties working with the medical community but the great hope promised by a new, far more accepting medical paradigm of chronic pelvic and sexual pain. The appendix offers 64 tips to relieve sexual and pelvic pain!

224 pages (July 15, 2010)
Available Through The ICN Mail Order Center

Ending Female Pain by Isa Herrera

Ending Female Pain: A Woman's Manual
by Isa Herrera MSPT, CSCS

"Ending Female Pain - A Woman's Manual " by Isa Herrera, MSPT is a ground breaking book for women with pelvic and sexual pain, containing dozens of easy, helpful exercises and tips that offers hope for patients with pelvic floor problems, vulvodynia, IC, etc. etc. This book gives you vital, easy and effective stretches, exercises and tips to help you take control and manage your pelvic pain symptoms.

The discussion of pelvic anatomy is amazing. She walks reader through an excellent and absolutely fascinating anatomy lesson so that they can see, with their own eyes, if their pelvic floor is tight, relaxed and/or if they're doing your reverse kegel or kegel exercises correctly. She teaches reader how to find and locate trigger points in the pelvic floor and teaches how to reduce those painful muscle knots. She offers massage tips that are easy and very effective at reducing adhesions around c-section and other surgery scars. Her discussion of the vulva and vulvar skin techniques is practical and makes total sense.

Using both pictures and diagrams, she offers a series of stretches for the relief of pelvic pain, including reverse kegel exercises, a GREAT series of exercises using pilates ball, several yoga stretches that are perfect for stretching out the pelvis, upper legs and lower back and several foam rolling techniques.

But, what makes this book truly unique and a must read for anyone with IC and pelvic pain, is her practical discussion of sex and how to reduce discomfort. Her tips are superb.. from performing a reverse kegel exercise before intimacy to help reduce pelvic floor tension, to using vaginal dilators for patients with vaginismus to a very unusual and obviously effective "vaginal steam" that can help make intimacy more comfortable.

Duplex Publishing
288 pages
Available Through The ICN Mail Order Center

Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein

Author Amy Stein is the founder of Beyond Basics Physical Therapy in New York City, which specializes in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic pain, and manual therapy for men, women, and children. She lectures nationwide and has been featured in both print and broadcast media. She serves on the board of the International Pelvic Pain Society.


Heal Pelvic Pain: The Proven Stretching, Strengthening and Nutrition Program for Relieving Pain, Incontinence, I.B.S. and other Symptoms without Surgery
By Amy Stein MPT

Heal Pelvic pain offers readers relief and recovery for pelvic floor disorders through a program of strengthening, stretching and relaxation exercises, massage techniques, nutritional basics, and self-care therapies—without drugs or surgery.

The book provides two different exercise programs. One addresses the pain syndromes related to urinary, bowel, or sexual dysfunction—including incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary and/or bowel frequency, urgency or retention, pudendal neuralgia, prostatitis, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and more. The other program addresses pelvic floor muscle weakness and poor coordination resulting in incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and/or decreased sexual response. The book is easy to read and use, and offers photos of all of the exercises and massage techniques guide readers every step of the way.

Here’s what readers will find in the book:
• Programs that can ease the pain and discomfort of bladder, bowel and/or sexual dysfunction without surgery or drugs
• A way to relieve pain in an intimate area
• Methods for enhancing sex life well into the elderly years
• Tips for strengthening the pelvis before, during, and after pregnancy
• A muscle-strengthening regimen that boosts sexual pleasure, eliminates incontinence, increases the body’s core strength and pelvic stability.
• Suggestions for stress- and pain-reducing home spa treatments
• Patient testimonials
• A comprehensive resource guide.

200 pages
McGraw Hill (Nov. 2008)
Available Through The IC Network Mail Order Center

Audiotapes & CD's

Guided Imagery For Relaxation In Women With Pelvic Pain or Interstitial Cystitis

This CD was created by a Nurse Practitioner working with women with IC and pelvic pain at William Beaumont Hospital (Michigan), one of the premiere IC research & clinical care centers in the USA today. The imagery on the CD is specific for pain, frequency and urgency symptoms.

In a research study using this CD, more than 45% of the group using this CD twice a day was moderately or markedly improved. In addition, pain scores and urgency significantly decreased in this group. We hope that you benefit from the use of this CD and recommend listening to track 2 'Letting Go' once or twice a day or especially during times of flared symptoms.

Available Exclusively Through The IC Network

Guided Imagery To Enhance Healing For Women With Pelvic Pain, Interstitial Cystitis or Vulvodynia

This is the second CD created by the WISH program at William Beaumont Hospital (Michigan) for women struggling with pelvic pain. In addition to covering IC, this CD also offers vulvodynia and vaginal pain content. This CD uses a "beach scene" for imagery purposes making it an ideal compliment to the first CD.

In a research study using this CD, more than 45% of the group using the Guided Imagery CD twice a day was moderately or markedly improved. In addition, pain scores and urgency significantly decreased in this group. We hope that you benefit from the use of this CD and recommend listening to track 2 'Letting Go' once or twice a day or especially during times of flared symptoms.

Available Exclusively Through The IC Network

Guided Imagery To Enhance Healing For Men With Chronic Pelvic Pain or Prostatitis

Finally... a CD for men struggling with pelvic pain. The third in the superb relaxation series produced by Beaumont Hospital for patients struggling with pain, this is the first that focuses specifically on the needs of men. Features a guided relaxation designed to help reduce muscle tension that can be contributing to pelvic pain, including the pain of IC and prostatitis.

Offers two tracks:
(1) "Riverbank" is a basic relaxation guiding the listener along a peaceful river bank setting.
(2) "Journey Into Nature" is specific for men with pelvic pain or prostatitis symptoms.

Available Exclusively Through The IC Network

Produced by: Beaumont Hospital - Royal Oak Michigan

Personal OTC Products

Azo Bladder Pain Relief Tablets

Azo Bladder Pain Relief Tablets

May relieve symptoms such as pain, burning, urgency and frequency of urination associated with irritation of the lower urinary tract caused by infection, trauma, bladder procedures and catheters. Contains Phenazopyridine Hydrochloride, the #1 ingredient prescribed by doctors and recommended by pharmacists for urinary discomfort. Available Through the ICN.

Desert Harvest Personal Gel

Desert Harvest Personal Gel

Desert Harvest Aloe Vera Personal Gel is a completely natural, chemical-free personal lubricant that can be used for intercourse or internal physical therapy. Available Through the ICN.

Perineal Cold Pack

Perineal Cold Pack

This Perineal Cold Pack provides a safe, controlled and effective cold therapy. Easy to activate, packs help diminish swelling and promote healing.

Available Through the ICN.


Very Private Intimate Moisture

Very Private Intimate Moisture

Very Private Intimate Moisture feels and functions like a woman's own moisture to relieve vaginal dryness instantly and enhance the pleasure of intimacy. Two moisturizers hydrate and protect tissue while a natural lubricant make intimacy completely comfortable. PH balanced, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free. NOT a contraceptive - safe with latex condoms.

Very Private also helps ease the beginning of intimacy and gives maximum tissue protection, literally cushioning the vaginal tissue with moisture so sexual activity is completely comfortable and can last as long as desired. Extremely effective and consumer friendly – no stickiness, no residue and no superfluous ingredients to change the natural vaginal environment. The products are also recommended by several teaching hospitals such as MD Anderson, and Cedars Sinai departments of gynecology, FDA approved to be marketed as a 501 (K) medical device.

Available Through the ICN.

Very Private Body Wash

Very Private Body Wash

Very Private pH balanced Body Wash is a skin-friendly, low sudsing cleansing and conditioning formula for the overall body and the intimate area. It leaves skin feeling fresh, clean, appreciably softer and helps prevent irritations and infections in the intimate area.

Hypo-allergenic, fragrance free, dermatologist tested and approved.

This product came to our attention when a patient recommended it. She had struggled for years with recurring bladder infections, usually e-coli. Recommended by her physician, this body wash dramatically reduced the frequency of those infections. She was thrilled and so are we. This is certainly worth considering! - Jill

Available Through the ICN.

Natracare Intimate Wipes

Natracare Intimate Wipes

Pure organic cotton wipes with natural plant extracts of Calendula and Chamomile. Strong and soft, alcohol free and paraben free, biodegradable with no synthetic preservatives. 12 wipes in a portable, self-closing packet.

Available Through The ICN

Periwash Bottle

Perineal Wash Bottle

A clear, empty wash bottle to be filled with water. Why? This is one of the easiest, simplest ways to reduce burning on the sensitive tissues of the urethra, vulva, etc

Available Through the ICN.

© 2006-2011 Interstitial Cystitis Network
Interstitial Cystitis Network, PO Box 2159 Healdsburg, CA 95448
A Division of J.H. Osborne, Inc
Orders: 707-433-0413
Patient Assistance : 707-538-9442
Skpe: ic network staff