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What We've Learned From 'Sex and the City'

From sex toys to infertility, HBO comedy raises awareness of sexual health.


"It's wonderful how they go into things like how women with vulvodynia are highly upset and disrupted in their emotional and sexual lives and also tell you how little the medical establishment knows of the problem," says Schwartz. She is referring to Charlotte's diagnosis of vulvodynia after reporting symptoms of vaginal burning, itching, and stinging to her gynecologist. Vulvodynia is a sharp, knifelike, or burning pain around the opening of the vagina that is often unexplained.

"It's very useful to get vulvodynia out of the proverbial closet," she says.

The National Vulvodynia Association, however, thought that this portrayal did women a disservice. On the show, the doctor told Charlotte that the condition is mostly just uncomfortable.

But for many women with vulvodynia, this can't be farther from the truth, according to the organization, which is based in Silver Spring, MD.

"Sex and the City failed miserably at portraying the serious and complicated nature of this condition, particularly when the show's gynecologist indicated that it's easy to treat," says Phyllis Mate, executive director of the National Vulvodynia Association, in a news release.

But it did get people talking about vulvodynia, experts agree. In fact, it got us talking about a lot. Fetishes, swinging, homosexuality, and anal sex -- you name it, and the show covered it in some fashion over the past six seasons, and for sure they spiced up water cooler conversation on Monday mornings.

"Sex and the City is a terrific lightning rod that way," says Schwartz.


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