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Secret Suffering: How Women's Sexual and Pelvic Pain Affects Their Relationships

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Secret Suffering: How Women's Sexual and Pelvic Pain Affects Their Relationships is the first book to explain how pelvic and sexual pain affects the lives of women (and men) and their partners in their own words/ The work also provides information on cutting-edge research and describes the most effective treatment modalities. Susan Bilheimer, coauthor, shares her own experiences as a patient who has gone down the painful, frustrating road of living with an illness that is often dismissed and not taken seriously. Robert J. Echenberg, M.D., coauthor, has treated over 700 women (and some men) with the disorder. He shares his decades of experience and expertise as a gynecologist and specialist in the treatment of chronic pelvic pain.

Not only does CPP interfere with a woman's physical and mental health, it can wreak havoc in family relationships, ruin careers, and wreck marriages. In the majority of cases, women suffer in silence. Even when they do seek medical help, what they find too often is inadequate care, as most doctors, even gynecological specialists, are not properly trained in recognizing, much less treating, all aspects of CPP.

Through classic, new, and emerging research, with statements from experts and interviews with CPP sufferers and their partners, Secret Suffering exposes and gives strong voice and compassionate understanding to this complex disorder. Most importantly, information on effective treatments for CPP, as well as the depression and other psychological fallout it may cause, are presented. Through Secret Suffering, Bilheimer and Echenberg finally shatter the silence, educate patients, build understanding, and demand that chronic pelvic and genital pain be taken seriously by the medical community.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

". . . 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 husband's 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! I can't say enough about this book. It's now at the very top of books I will be recommending to patients struggling with IC and intimacy. This will, beyond any other book I can suggest, break your isolation and show you that you are not alone and that there is hope! It's truly a must read."


Interstitial Cystitis Network

"Drawing on responses to an Internet survey, this book treats Chronic Pelvic Pain (CPP), a 'silent epidemic' said to affect some 15 million American women—and their male/same sex partners. Emphasizing that patients need to be heard and that doctors need to ask the right questions, Bilheimer (a freelance writer who shares her struggles with CPP) and Dr. Echenberg (a CPP expert in private practice in Bethlehem, PA) discuss CPP's physiological and emotional aspects and treatment options. The book includes tips to relieve such pain, self-assessment questionnaires, methodological notes, information on running a CPP pain management practice, and a glossary."


SciTech Book News

". . . the book's honesty and directness break open awareness of a critically important issue. With the Internet site ( and book release, one expects that Bilheimer and Echenberg have launched a much longer term project. With the conversation out on the table, the work of affecting policy, research, and access to care should begin to move. And many women and men will realize that their suffering does not need to be secret anymore."



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313359217
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/30/2009
  • Series: Sex, Love, and Psychology Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 205
  • Sales rank: 1,174,181
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Bilheimer is a freelance and technical writer with 18 years experience. Her articles and personality profiles have appeared in regional and national magazines, and her weekly column, "That's Life", appeared in a series of Pennsylvania newspapers for over five years. Her published works include How to Become a Technical Writer, Wandering Mind Meditation, Living with Sam, A Retreat of One's Own, and the booklet 64 Tips to Relieve Sexual Pain. In 2003, Bilheimer's interest in women's midlife issues led to the creation of an informational website on perimenopause ( Her own struggle with sexual and pelvic pain drove her to write Secret Suffering. She developed the Secret Suffering website ( to aid and support other women who live with this affliction.

Robert J. Echenberg, MD, board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, is an established practitioner in the field of chronic pelvic/sexual pain in women. In 2001, after a 30 year career as an OB/GYN, he developed a successful treatment model for this complex pain syndrome. Many hundreds of women (and even some men) have benefited from his program over the past eight years. Echenberg has spoken nationally and internationally on sexuality, medical ethics, and pelvic pain in women. His private practice is located in Bethlehem, PA.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 30, 2011

    Recommend 100%

    I'm not even half way through this book and to others who like myself suffer from pelvic floor pain and all the emotions that come with it, this book is already amazing!! Can't wait to keep reading.

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