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Illawarra Pelvic Pain Network

 The Illawarra Pelvic Pain Network

Chronic pelvic pain, and related sexual pain, is a 'silent' women's health issue.  It is estimated that around 15% [1]of women will experience painful sex in a lifetime.
For example, one cause of painful sex is a condition called provoked vestibulodynia/vulvodynia, a condition in which even the slightest touch to the vulvar area can result in unbearable pain. It is estimated that around two in every 100 women are affected by this condition. 
Of these, over half report visiting three or more health-care providers before they get a diagnosis, and an incredible 40% remain undiagnosed.  Even more worrying, as many as 40% of women with sexual pain don't even seek medical advice. Many are just too embarrassed to talk to their doctor.

To add to this problem, many health professionals have limited experience diagnosing and treating pelvic pain conditions. In response to this, a group of public and private health professionals in the Illawarra have formed the Illawarra Pelvic Pain Network. This network consists of a gynecologist, a urologist, a colorectal surgeon, a gastroenterologist, 3 GPs, a pain specialist, a dietician, a sexual health physician, a psychologist/pain management coach and allied health professionals such as 3 physiotherapists, 2 exercise physiologists, and an osteopath. 
One aim of the network is to provide regular education sessions for local GPs to improve treatment outcomes for these women. A second aim is to increase public awareness of chronic pelvic pain conditions, by providing easily accessible links to local health professionals with skills and experience in this area.

Ass.Prof. Reyftmann has played a key role in initiating a multi-disciplinary approach to chronic pelvic pain in the Illawarra:
" When I moved here from France, I saw a fair bit of patients suffering from pelvic pain, being referred by their GP with a suspicion of endometriosis, a painful gynaecological condition that I have been trained to operate. I would operate on them, and sometimes the exploration of the abdomen would be normal. In some other cases, I would treat the endometriosis but the pain would persist.
Those challenging cases convinced me that the isolated approach of a single health practitioner is often insufficient to address the complexity of a complex condition such as chronic pelvic pain
. Multiple dimensions are involved (visceral insults like gynaecological or urological diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, previous traumatic experiences, psychological state, muscular reaction to the pain, nerve entrapment). I progressively got to the conclusion that a new surgery, which can be potentially mutilating or have complications was not the solution. The only way to help these women is to work as a multidisciplinary team, and to treat all the dimensions of the pain in a holistic kind of fashion. I was very fortunate to meet a bunch of local health practitioners who were also individually struggling with those patients, and who were ready to embark with me on that journey. It was the right time to put up a dedicated team together."

Zoë Mills, Belinda Henry, Kate Basu, Angela Clough
Gynaecologist:   A/Prof
 Lionel Reyftmann,  Dr Shannon Reid

Psychologists- Coaches:  Dr Sue Martin, Lisa Densley

Sex. health physician:  
A/Prof Katherine Brown 

Urologist:  Dr Liz Dally 

Colorectal surgeon:  Dr Soni Putnis

Gastroenterologist: Dr Thomas Lee

Pain Physician:  
Dr Michael Davies

GPs:  Dr Ann Schippers, Dr Adele Stewart, Dr Ruth Bond

Dietician: Jodie Hirst

Exercise physiologists:  Richelle Mayne, Aidan Cashin

Osteopath: Beau Edwards

The Illawarra Mercury covered the launch of the network on the 20/1/15.

[1] These statistics are from (or extrapolated from)  When Sex Hurt, A Women's Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain (2011).  Authors: Andrew Goldstein, MP, Caroline Pukall, PhD and Irwin Goldstein, MD.

Genea Accredited

Dr Reyftmann is a Genea Accredited Surgeon.