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Painful to Touch and to Discuss

By Janet Vasquez

Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome (VVS) is a touchy issue for women. Literally. VVS is a chronic and persistent inflammatory condition characterized by severe pain on attempted vaginal penetration. VVS is the leading cause of dyspareunia (pain caused during intercourse) in reproductive-aged women.

Until recently, the only reliable treatment for VVS was surgical removal of the vulva itself. Fortunately, today there are other options, including the use of Alferon N, an immune booster.

Researchers at the Medical College of Cornell University discovered a deficiency in the production of alpha-interferon in women with VVS. They observed that an inability to produce alpha-interferon may explain the chronic inflammation seen in VVS.

The Food and Drug Administration approved recombinant alpha-interferon for human papilloma virus (HPV) infections and this injectable, non-surgical treatment was experimentally tested on VVS patients. Interferon is an important component of the body's innate disease fighting process. One natural form of alpha-interferon, Alferon, has been reported to improve symptoms in VVS. HPV is also detected in some patients with VVS.

Alferon N, a compound manufactured by Hemispherx Biopharma, may hold the key to permanently relieving the condition according to recent independent clinical researchers. Physicians using Alferon N have successfully treated women suffering from VVS in experimental studies. Alferon N injection therapy mimics the body's natural defenses and is aimed at the cause of the disease which may include HPV infections.

"By offering an alternative to surgery for VVS sufferers, Alferon N is a positive step towards providing prolonged relief to thousands of women, says Dr. Richard G. Hofmann of the Women's Health Center in Carthage, New York, and an independent clinical researcher.

Dr. Hofmann's method of treatment"injections twice weekly for 12 weeks"has provided the most relief of pain with the least amount of side effects and is relatively inexpensive, he says. Dr. Hofmann is expected to give a scientific presentation on the subject at the American Society of Gynecology Annual Meeting later this year.

News of possible non-surgical treatment may be comforting to patients with the "excessive sensitivity of VVS. The associated severe, painful sensation occurs with any pressure to the vulvar area, such as tampon insertion, the wearing of tight pants or bicycle riding and, with potential relief in sight, this touchy issue might just be easier to discuss.

Women who are being touched by the pain of what is potentially VVS should discuss their discomfort with their gynecologists. VVS sufferers need to weigh the various treatment options with a professional. For more information about Alferon N, log onto

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