I turned fifty in November and decided this is my year to make my doctor listen. I booked my pap and awaited the results. My doctor called with the all-clear. That can’t be. I pulled out a mirror and did my own inspection; something I should have done much earlier. I did not recognize my vulva. (I’ve learned the difference between vulva and vagina, part of the great education I’ve received while digging into the details of menopause health).
Now, I don’t typically recommend using Dr. Google as your healthcare practitioner, however, I’d already tried my doc and needed to get to the bottom of this misdiagnosed issue. Dr. Google was pretty swift with results.
I called my doctor’s office the next day and booked a phone consultation. I told her what I’d discovered and what she’d missed. I told her about the changes to my lady parts and that they looked different.
“Well, I don’t know what you usually look like.” Her response was defensive. I was okay with that. This time, I wasn’t accepting the menopause diagnosis.
So, who treats lichen sclerosus?
My GP referred me to a gynecologist. Luckily for me, that GYN happens to work in a dermatology clinic that also specializes in vulvar health. It’s the LS trifecta! Lichen sclerosus is actually mentioned on their website.
It took a couple months or so to get into the clinic, however, not only did I receive a diagnosis of LS, I was immediately referred to the clinic’s pelvic floor therapist who also sees a substantial number of women (and children) with LS and vulvar issues. (I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post).
According to the Mayo Clinic:
If you have signs and symptoms common to lichen sclerosus, make an appointment with your primary care doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions (dermatologist). 1
Yes, a dermatologist can diagnose and treat lichen sclerosus, however, you’ll want one that is well-versed in vulvar LS.
Sometimes, LS can lead to pain/burning with urination, and scarring may lead to interference with the urethra. In these cases, a urologist may be involved in your treatment.
A pediatric gynecologist or dermatologist familiar with LS can help. As a person with LS, I’m happy to have a qualified professional who cares (my GYN is male). As a mom, I’d be inclined to seek a female specialist for my daughter if that feels more comfortable for her. I consider a positive experience to be part of treatment.
There are many physicians that can treat LS. My best advice to you is to find one that knows about LS, specializes in vulvar issues and, above all, listens to you.
If you’ve read any of my books, you know that I’m an explorer of nature, spirituality and alternative medicine. My personal journey with LS is a holistic one with an emphasis on meditation, qigong, physical and emotional nourishment and plant medicine. If you are seeking complementary therapies, there are a range of practitioners that you can work with: from acupuncturists to naturopaths, and homeopaths to Ayurvedic doctors.
If you suspect you have LS, tell your doctor you’d like a referral to see a specialist for treatment and care.
Or use Dr. Google to locate a vulva clinic or LS specialist in your area.
Read the next post in the series: What is the treatment for lichen sclerosus?
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**This blog is meant to inform, not diagnose or treat specific health conditions. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always consult your doctor or health care practitioner.