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ABC 1 Catalyst: The Trouble with Sex

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Excerpt from the program below:

NARRATION
Injury to this nerve can happen during childbirth or with lower back injury, or strenuous exercise. Australian based expert on the pudendal nerve is gynaecologist, Dr Thierry Vancaillie.

Dr Thierry Vancaillie
When they come to see us, they will talk about bowel dysfunction and bladder dysfunction. Maybe talk about pain within the course, but arousal problems, well, they’ll leave that for last, if they’ll talk about it.

NARRATION
Dr Vancaillie is experimenting with a more permanent solution to this problem. He will use a neuro-stimulator, which is surgically implanted into the base of a patient’s spine. If he can abate the pain, it’s likely he will also abate the arousal.

Dr Thierry Vancaillie
The nerve stimulation sends out a signal that competes with the pain signal, and therefore the brain gets confused, so to speak, and ignores the pain signal.

NARRATION
X-rays guide the electrode into the exact position next to the pudendal nerve.

Dr Thierry Vancaillie
There within millimetres of the target, then we can really choose the electrode that provides the best stimulation in that particular patient.

Dr Maryanne Demasi
At the moment the doctors are cutting a small pocket in the patient’s backside, where the battery will sit permanently.

Doctor
All leads are within range with …

Dr Thierry Vancaillie
We connected the leads then to the generator which is in here, at about one centimetre below the skin, so we can access it to, to recharge it.

NARRATION
Once it’s switched on, electrical signals fire twenty-four hours a day.

Dr Thierry Vancaillie
This is their controller, like any other remote device, they can increase or decrease the intensity of the stimulation, and then have one or two programs to choose from.

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Definitions of pain

What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?
Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggravated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

What is Neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain is the result of an injury or malfunction in the peripheral or central nervous system. The pain is often triggered by an injury, but this injury may or may not involve actual damage to the nervous system. More…

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