Vaginismus is a condition where there is involuntary tightness of the vagina during attempted intercourse. The tightness is actually caused by involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles surrounding the vagina. The woman does not directly control or ‘will’ the tightness to occur; it is an involuntary pelvic response. She may not even have any awareness that the muscle response is causing the tightness or penetration problem. It is believed that 6 -12% of women have vaginismus. However, gathering reliable statistics for vaginismus is hindered by many factors, and the actual number might be quite higher.
I was a virgin on my wedding night. I was also a virgin the next night and the next and the next. It literally felt like he was hitting a wall. After a few weeks, I sought help from my gynecologist. She gave me three diagnoses (congenital tightness, hypersensitivity, vaginismus), a couple of prescriptions, and a recommendation for a physical therapist. With time, dilators and enough lidocaine, I was able to engage in intercourse sporadically. When the numbing cream wore off, I simply slipped out to the bathroom to bleed and to cry. Though it still hurt, I believed the only way to get better was to keep trying. Again, I tried to explain to someone in my gynecologist’s office. Once they ruled out infection, they had no other explanations. I tried another doctor. She saw no evidence of tearing (then what was bleeding?) and suggested it may be an issue of dryness (but why would a 26-year-old be dry?). She diagnosed it as vulvodynia, and she had the cure, too: Maze.
Maze recognized immediately what my other doctors never saw: the birth control those other doctors prescribed had some adverse effects. Coupled with my natural tightness, it caused painful sex and tearing. Tara and Bat Sheva treated me with hormones and dilation, with patience, humor and frankness.
I cried when Bat Sheva told me I couldn’t attempt sex until I healed. It was such a relief from the crushing guilt I felt. For months I had avoided sex and called myself a coward. I felt guilty for not wanting sex. I didn’t want to face the pain of it, but wasn’t pain the only way to get better? It may not have been my fault that my body was built this way (in fact, it definitely wasn’t), but I thought it was my fault that I wasn’t fixing it. I thought the pain was helping and I was just too weak to face it. I was wrong. Bat Sheva was validating. “Why” she asked “would you do something that hurts you?”
As much as this is a physical issue, it is compounded by fear and guilt. The team at Maze Women’s Sexual health guided and they listened. Even as we cleared away one problem, another would lurk behind it. Each time, Maze had an answer. I’m happy to say that my husband and I have a normal sex life now. It came in waves — ebbs and flows. First, I could tolerate sex. Then the pain went away, but I felt numb (I think what I secretly hoped for was for the pain to be replaced by pleasure). Finally, we found our stride. No pain, no tearing, no fear. Thank you, Maze!
– T, Age 26 –
What was the problem?
My problem was that anytime I tried having sex, my vagina simply wouldn’t let anything in. No matter how aroused or ready I was mentally and physically, I would tense up anytime fingers or a penis touched outside my entrance. In the past when I tried having full on intercourse my vagina would feel extremely tight and begin to burn when a penis tried to enter.
How long did you live with it?
The first time I tried having sex I was 17 and did not experience penetration until I was 28, so 11 years.
Did you seek treatment elsewhere? What was that like for you?
No. After refusing to get on the exam table at the gynecologist around age 19, I mentioned to the Doctor that I had heard of a condition called Vaginismus and I thought I may have it. The Doctor told me that only a small percentage of the population had vaginismus and that I did not (with no testing, etc.). That was the last time I went to the gynecologist and avoided the issue with anyone professionally until Maze before my 28th birthday.
What was the cause, if it can be determined or if you have some hypotheses?
When I was 15, I had such bad menstrual cramps that I was sent to the hospital. After this visit, I was sent to the gynecologist to be examined for cysts and given a pap smear. I was nervous to begin with and when the Doctor went to put the speculum inside me, the pain was so great that I became very light headed. I could not and would not allow the Doctor to continue with the examination. The pain that the Doctor put me through triggered my brain and body to associate the touching of the entrance of my vagina to that pain. I had a good grasp on the fact that this experience was the reason that I froze up when a penis got near my vagina entrance but I thought I could fix it myself. Many sexual partners later, I had made no progress besides lots of anal sex.
How did you find us?
How did you feel about making the call for an appointment; was it a hard thing to do?
When I made the initial call to Maze, I was at my wits end, trying to date guys and not able to have sex with them. I was at a point that I knew I needed professional help and looking back, I believe I was most worried that I would not be able to be fixed or that maybe I had some wild physical condition that required surgery. It was a hard thing for me to finally seek help professionally. Once I made the call though, I knew I was at least on my way to an answer to my problem.
What was your first reaction to your first appointment; did that reaction change over time?
At my first appointment, it was concluded that I did have vaginismus and I could be treated. The Doctor had only placed the smallest dilator on the outside of my vagina. I was too scared to let her go farther but felt I had made so much progress already at that point. After my first appointment, I was mentally focused, ready and willing to start the dilation process and to confront this fear I had. I was nervous, anxious and excited to get the whole thing over with and enjoy my sex life.
How was your condition addressed – briefly describe the treatment?
I used dilators every week and each week dilators got progressively bigger. I knew that some dilatations could take more than a week but I was determined not to let that happen. I thought that if I got sidetracked one week that I wouldn’t be able to get out of my head and that I may get stuck. I stayed extremely focused and did not allow myself to get discouraged if the self-dilations took longer than I would have liked.
How long did it take until the problem began to resolve?
Every week I dilated and moved onto the next size. I started dilations on January 14th and had sex March 21, so about nine weeks.
How do you feel now?
Now I feel great! My sex life is healthy and I now know that my brain and my vagina are on the same page. I am so grateful for the entire staff at MCFS, especially Tara and Bat Sheva for helping me confront my fear.
What is the single most important thing you learned from this experience?
The single most important thing I learned from this experience is that I am a more courageous person than I thought myself to be. Yes, I needed help along the way to confront this fear but ultimately it was up to me to get over the issues I was dealing with and get my brain and my vagina connected.
What would you tell others to encourage them to take action and seek help for their condition?
My words of encouragement are that you must believe in yourself and trust the professionals, that they want to best for you and they know what is best for you. Yes, every dilation is going to be scary but every dilation brings you one step closer to your goal and with every dilation you gain a little more courage for the next time. It may feel embarrassing to take action and get help, but it is absolutely the necessary thing to do.
– G, Age 28 –
Last year I gave birth to a healthy little girl…she was actually a VBAC birth with no pain medication!!
I often think back to the first time I came to see you and how painful it was to use those early dilators and how afraid I was then to give birth. It is really amazing how far I have come thanks to all of your help!
In a million years I never would have dreamed that I would be able to give birth without pain medicine! Thank you all so much for all that you did for me!
– A, Age 39 –
Four years ago, I was married and began my sexual life. That’s when my problem started. Every time we tried having intercourse, it didn’t work out. I couldn’t even insert my finger or a tampon into my vagina.
I went to see a hypnotist, a physical therapist and had a special massage, but nothing helped. Everyone told me that the problem was all in my head! Then I heard about Maze Women’s Sexual Health. I called them right away but didn’t make an appointment. I was so afraid that like the previous services I tried, they would not be able to help me. A few months later, I decided enough was enough and called to schedule an appointment.
My husband came with me to the first appointment because I was so nervous and embarrassed by my problem. I thought that I was the only one with such an issue but then I found out that a lot of women experience this.
At Maze Women’s Sexual Health, they explained to me what my problem was and discussed treatment. I started using a small dilator and was surprised that I could actually insert it into my vagina! I continued the exercises every night, going from size extra small to large plus. After 2 months, I was ready for intercourse. I was crying because I couldn’t believe it was finally going to happening.
Maze changed our lives. My husband and I are much closer now.
I want to thank Melissa and Rachel for everything they have done for us. And if you have the same problem, please don’t wait, schedule an appointment. This place is amazing!
– I, Age 21 –
I first had sex with a partner at 18, and it was so painful I thought I was going to die. I thought that was normal. It’s your first time, right? Everybody said the first time is painful, that it would get better. It never did. Penetrative sex was always excruciating, as if I was being ripped open from the inside. There was nothing fun or pleasurable about it. I kept waiting for it to start feeling good, but that moment never happened.
I only had one boyfriend in college, and that relationship lasted 3 months. After the first few experiences, I began to avoid men. How could you have a conversation with a potential partner, or even make out with them? You know at some point, sex is going to come up, and you’re going to have a humiliating conversation about how you can’t have sex, and who wants to be with a woman who can’t have sex?
Nobody ever discussed sexuality with me growing up. We discussed the mechanics of it, and birth control, but we never discussed how to feel in touch with our bodies, or how to give and receive pleasure. I thought sex was a natural thing that everybody just inherently knew how to do. My girlfriends told me about the great sex they were having, and people in movies were having sex all the time and enjoying it. I felt like a freak of nature. I couldn’t do something that was supposedly instinct. I felt like a failure as a woman.
I was 23 when I noticed my libido died overnight. I thought maybe I could force it to come back. I tried a lot of one-night stands. It didn’t help with getting aroused, and sex was just as painful as ever. I became depressed and withdrawn.
I started researching “painful sex” on Amazon. I thought, what if I assume that painful sex isn’t normal? Let’s assume the problem isn’t me. Let’s assume it can be solved.I was stunned by the flood of books that came up. Painful sex was apparently an epidemic for women, and I never knew. Nobody ever talked about it. I’d only in the last year begun asking my ob/gyns about this. Every doctor said the same thing, “I don’t know. Maybe you just haven’t found the right partner yet.” This always made me want to scream.
I immediately googled clinics that treated painful sex and I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered Maze Women’s Sexual Health. I made an appointment for the following week.
The waiting room staff was just as friendly in person as they were over the phone, and I was relieved to see it was all women. My team was Melissa (a Family Nurse Practioner) and Rachel (a Clinical Psychotherapist). I was pleasantly surprised by that. It was obvious that Maze cared about physical as well as mental and emotional health. They wanted to tackle my issue from all angles. I felt comfortable right away. I think that first session, I just spent 45 minutes talking Rachel’s ear off about my sexual and relationship history. Rachel was fantastic. She listened, didn’t judge, and just held the space for me while I unloaded at least 12 years of feelings.
I was a little scared going into an examination room with Melissa. Going for my yearly ob/gyn check-ups was always traumatic because I couldn’t stand being touched. Melissa was super understanding, though. She used a child-size speculum and gave me a mirror so I could see what she was doing. That took away a lot of the fear. Melissa discovered that my vaginal muscles were super tight. She said I’d probably had a tight pelvic floor since childhood and just never realized it. Treatment included loosening my muscles with dilators and a referral to a local physical therapist. I was relieved.
Melissa also did a full work-up on me: blood, hormones, the works. I was shocked to find everything come back normal. There was nothing wrong with my body, aside from a tight pelvic floor, which was fixable. At home, I continued working with the dilators. I went at my own pace and controlled use of the dilator, and with daily practice, I grew more and more comfortable feeling something inside me. As the strength in my pelvic floor increased, I began to use bigger dilators until I was at the biggest size, which I NEVER EVER thought was possible.
My mom noticed a change in me the day of my first appointment with Melissa and Rachel. I worked with Maze and my PT for over a month. Now, after only two months, I feel connected to my body, to my inner being. I feel like a woman.
If you’re having issues with your sexual health, don’t wait. I waited for years because I didn’t think there were any other options. I thought living with pain was normal. It’s not. Women and girls are rarely taught about how to have a healthy sexuality, so we don’t even know how to react when we have a problem. I lived with painful sex and depression for 12 years, and I didn’t have to. The team at Maze is amazing and they’re here for you.
– CA, Age 30 –
Sex was very painful. For some reason (which ended up being vaginismus), I could not have sex without pain. I didn’t know why, but it lasted for over a year before I sought help. It was emotionally, psychologically, and physically hard to deal with; I didn’t want to talk to anyone (other than my husband) about it. Part of me thought it would get better. Part of me was afraid to talk to my doctor about it. Part of me felt embarrassed-why couldn’t I do something that everyone else could? I didn’t even know how to go about addressing it. I felt like the problem was so big — I didn’t know where to begin or what to do.
I finally went to my gynecologist who referred me to the Maze Women’s Sexual Health.
I was very afraid to make the first call. I probably cried for like 20 minutes before I dialed. I didn’t want to talk about this. I had lots of questions and was scared I would cry when I asked them. The woman I spoke to was so calm, helpful, and reassuring. I couldn’t believe how much calmer I felt just after the first phone call.
I was kind of a wreck the day of my first appointment. I was so nervous — partly to talk about this and partly for any exam I might have. I met with Bat Sheva who was the most reassuring person I have ever met. She listened to me and within minutes I knew I was talking to someone who really understood and was going to help me. I then met with Tara for my exam who is the most awesome person. She managed to make me laugh and made me feel so calm. Bat Sheva and Tara helped me feel in control and “normal.” They explained everything to me, understood every question I had, and patiently answered the same ones over and over. They made me feel like I had a team on my side.
I started with the dilation at my first appointment. I went up a size (and sometimes 2 sizes) every week. I had never thought that I would be able to do that. I was actually proud of myself.
It took me less than 2 months for my treatment to work! Within that short time, I got used to the dilation, and intercourse has not been painful. It is such a change. I am so grateful. I am still maintaining the dilation and I feel much more comfortable and in control of my body. I feel proud and happy that an issue that was so hard for me for over a year was able to be solved in less than 2 months.
This experience has taught me to not be afraid to ask for help. I was able to work with the most amazing people who were able to give me all the support I needed. I felt very alone dealing with this issue for over a year. From my first appointment, they became my support team.
When I was first referred here, I remember reading the other testimonials. They made me feel better- like I wasn’t alone. At the same time, I had this worry that I would be the exception; that my issue somehow wouldn’t get fixed; that I would be different. Within minutes of my first visit, I was reassured over and over that I wasn’t the exception; that there was a solution; that I really wasn’t the only one. I think its normal and, of course, understandable to feel that way — to feel scared. From someone who was there, I understand and I encourage you to seek help. With the right people on your side, you won’t believe how fixable this is. I still can’t believe it, but my life has changed. Everyone deserves that.
– E, Age 25 –
I always knew I had a unique situation/problem because the thought of inserting a tampon or anything else in my vagina terrified me. Before finding the Maze, I tried going to a psychiatrist and even a gynecologist to discuss my fears in addition to my fear of intercourse.
During my first visit to the gynecologist, she insisted on doing a pap smear, which terrified me as well. When she then insisted on only inserting her finger, she was amazed at how nervous it made me and sent me home. Her only advice was for me to seek a therapist, and she made me feel like I had a severe, abnormal problem.
I felt really hopeless, and I began researching different therapists.
As I was searching the internet, I came across the Maze and decided to call them right away. From the first phone call, I really felt that the staff understood what I was going through and assured me that I wasn’t alone and that they have successfully treated so many women with the same problem.
Upon my first visit, I was diagnosed with vaginismus. I began seeing Barbara once a week for therapy and I began the dilation process with Tara. They really made me feel comfortable and didn’t push me to do anything I wasn’t ready for. After 4 months of treatment, I was able to have intercourse without anxiety or fear. I was also able to successfully have a pap smear and the thought of tampons isn’t distressing!
I truly feel liberated and now able to have a healthy and enjoyable sex life. If you are struggling with any of the symptoms I described above, don’t hesitate to call the Maze. They are amazing at what they do!
– F, Age 29 –
Due to the sensitivity at the opening of my vagina and the tight muscles all around, I had painful intercourse. I lived with the pain for about half a year thinking it would go away. When it didn’t, an expert directed me to Maze Women’s Sexual Health for help.
Getting through to the Center (and scheduling appointments) was pretty easy and the people
I dealt with were extremely kind and accommodating!
At first, I was really uneasy about my visits since whatever was done to determine the problem caused real pain and irritation. Thanks to the support of Bat Sheva Marcus and Tara Ford, I learned to bear the pain and do what was necessary. I started doing dilation exercises every day for 10 minutes, changing to a bigger sized dilator every week. I was quite skeptical about what the results would be, but thankfully with time I felt a real difference and I became more comfortable with the entire dilation process.
It’s about two months later now and thank goodness my sex life has been great and totally different. I no longer have to fear pain, irritation or anxiety. I’m maintaining my dilation exercise for now and hopefully I’ll be totally done with it pretty soon.
This experience showed me that with determination, support and positivity everything is possible! You just need to do the right thing and go to the right places for help.
THANK YOU Bat Sheva, Tara and everyone else at Maze!!
– CG, Age 20 –
I became sexually active when I got married and intercourse was extremely painful from the beginning. I tried to seek help from my practitioner who advised me to read books on female sexuality and to practice kegels as often as possible. Two years of doing kegel exercises seemed to help a little (i.e. made intercourse ‘bearable’), but after delivering my first baby everything went downhill. Postpartum sex was basically impossible because of pain and vaginal tightening. After trying a few treatments my OB sent me to an Urogynecologist who tried numerous procedures including local anesthesia shots, before finally recommending Maze Women’s Sexual Health.
By the time I contacted the Center I was nervous that this was my last resort at a functional sex life, and I was terrified that if they couldn’t fix my problem I would be out of options. I was initially skeptical of the dilation and therapy visits but as time wore on, the pain began to lessen and I was able to dilate using the largest dilators. During the therapy sessions the doctors clarified what might be viewed as ‘normal expectations’ in a person’s sex life, and taught me to embrace non-intercourse sex as well.
After two months of daily dilation I was ready to try intercourse, and I was shocked when there was virtually no pain. I cried from happiness when I realized that my sex life could be normal and healthy. I still cannot believe how far we’ve come.
Thanks to Maze I now think about sex and intercourse in a different, healthier way. I also feel equipped to deal with vaginismus problems, should they relapse. It’s also great to know that I can always call Maze with any problems or issues that might come up.
I cannot stress enough how important going to Maze was for me. They made me feel comfortable and empowered to do something about my problem, and my marriage as a whole is so much better because of them.
If you think you have a problem with intercourse PLEASE seek help. Nobody should have to suffer through intercourse pain; these problems are common, and incredibly treatable – if you get the right kind of help.
Maze – thank you!
– RW, Age 29 –
For over a decade, I suffered in silence about my inability to have sex. Because I grew up in a religious family, it wasn’t something I could ask for help with, nor did I connect with a doctor whom I felt comfortable discussing my problems with. I felt unwomanly and even less than a human being. My self-esteem was so low, I put my head down in social situations and avoided going out and meeting people in general. All of my romantic relationships ended because of the situation. One day I mustered up the courage to call Maze Women’s Sexual Health. Within two months my psychological and physical issues were remedied and now I am able to have a normal, healthy sex life. The counselors and medical professionals are extremely thoughtful, understanding, and gentle. I would recommend to any one suffering with a sexual disorder to call Maze. They will change your life.
– J, Age 31 –
Once I reached 40 years old, I knew I needed to take care of my health and start to have regular pap smears, but I was avoiding it because I had a fear of penetration. I also had an aversion to female genitals. I seldom looked at my own and could only be touched either by myself or my partner with a soft fabric, or vibrator. Luckily I was able to have orgasms very easily and my boyfriends where always fun, kind and affectionate.
Coming from the UK, I had the opportunity to be working in New York City for 12 weeks, and I was determined to get help for my problem (which I now know is called Vaginismus). I was both excited and nervous when I found the very informative website www.mazewomenshealth.com, and that they had a New York City location.
My first action was to get the information pack via the website. I then read everything about Maze including available treatments and the testimonial from other patients. I knew this was ideal for me…I was going to call Maze, but due to the location I decided to just go to the office. Making the first move can often be the most difficult part, so I decided to “just do it”.
In the office I met Johanna at the front desk who was both friendly and informative. She explained the procedure for new patients to me and went over cost of treatment, as well as Maze’s credit system for those not covered by insurance. I left feeling a sense of relief.
My first appointment a week later was with Bat Sheva Marcus. She was very warm and open. I was a little nervous and was talking a lot, but she allowed me to talk and was very kind in her replies. She reassured me that I was not alone, and I was going to get all the help I needed. Talking to someone about your sex life and personal issues is nothing to be embarrassed about or to feel shameful over, and with her soft-spoken way and professional approach she made my meeting feel like I was talking to a good friend. Our conversation covered many topics and I realized she needed to get to the physiological root of my problem. I found I was a little tearful having never spoken to anyone about it before, but thankfully was able to laugh a little too.
My next meeting across the hall was with the caring, smiling Physician Assistant Tara Ford, who was there to examine me.
Tara talked me through the physical. She gave me as much time as I needed and explained Vaginismus to me and started me on my treatment of dilators…..my homework was to use the dilators every day for a week and then come back and move on to the next size.
I had a few difficult days while trying to do my daily dilators but I did not miss a day and only ever had a mild stretching sensation and never experienced any pain. I was also a little teary at times which Bat Sheva explained can happen due to regret or sadness about the loss of time. I was prescribed an estrogen cream as well for dryness.
In just over a month I was feeling more connected to my body! I was reading books on sex, male and female anatomy, and bought a large mirror so I could look at my genitals. I was getting more and more relaxed.
Each week I would talk with both Tara and Bat Sheva and learned more about various lubes and vibrators and my plan for eventually having intercourse. All in all I found my experience at Maze to be really positive, and urge other woman not to be afraid. Don’t let years go by without getting help. You owe it to yourself and your partner to enjoy a satisfying love life!
– C, Age 47 –
Since getting my period at the age of 12, every time I tried to use a tampon I couldn’t get it in. Eventually I gave up. I felt awkward asking my mom about it, so I never talked with her. When I was a little older, a friend told me that tampons hurt her until she lost her virginity, and then they didn’t. I thought maybe this would be the case for me. My mother never took me to get a pelvic exam, and I didn’t date in high school, so I didn’t realize what a serious issue I had until college.
At 21 I began dating my first serious boyfriend, and decided I wanted to lose my virginity to him. We tried, and he could not penetrate me. Very frustrated, I talked to my friends and they thought that maybe I was just nervous. I went to my college health center to get on birth control and to get my first exam, and the nurse could not perform the exam as it was extremely painful, I started crying and she stopped. She suggested I see a “real” gynecologist. She thought maybe I needed to get my hymen cut…I went to a gynecologist, (for the first time) and I cried when she inserted her finger in me. She said everything “seemed fine” and gave me a brochure for Maze. That year was my senior year of college, and I was very busy. I kept putting off going, making a thousand excuses for why it wasn’t the right time for me to go.
After I graduated college, I didn’t have medical insurance. A year and half went by, and I finally got a job with health benefits- I knew I had to go. I would continually go back to the Maze website, and I knew I had vaginismus. At that point I was single, but I knew I wanted to deal with my vaginismus so that I could eventually have a healthy sex life.
I called the office to make an appointment, only to find out that my insurance didn’t cover ANYTHING! I decided to pay out of pocket, knowing that my health and happiness are far more important than any amount of money.
My doctors made me feel very at ease. It was amazing to describe my experiences and have them nod their heads, yep- vaginismus. I thought, oh, other people go through this? I’m not such a freak after all! We started with dilation, as I felt this was a more natural approach than botulinum toxin. My doctors were very sweet and patient with me. We started on the smallest size, which was extremely painful. The first few appointments I cried every time she inserted the dilator. But then I would go home, and in the privacy of my bedroom I could relax, do my “homework” and each week started to feel better. I would move up a size each week (or 2).
During this time, I had begun dating a great guy. After we were together for a month or so I explained my condition to him. He was very understanding and patient. After 3-4 months of treatment, we had sex. The next few months were up and down. Things were good, but then I went on a birth control that gave me crazy mood swings and made me very dry. I stopped dilating and would have sex like once a week, which made things painful. I was still checking in with my doctors every 4-6 weeks, but began to go more regularly again. We decided that I should go off birth control, and rely on condoms. Going back to regular dilation and not being on birth control pills made sex pain-free again.
Over a year later, I am still dealing with my vaginismus. If I don’t have sex for a few days, I remind myself I HAVE to dilate in order to continue to have a pain free sex life. I had this idea that I would be walking off into the sunset, which isn’t what happened, but that’s real life. I cannot stress to you how important this experience has been for me. I seriously thought I would never have a pain free sex life. I am so blessed with a wonderful boyfriend who went on this journey with me. Sex went from painful, to neutral, to GOOD.
I want to stress that this is a MEDICAL CONDITION: it is not your fault, and it is something that must be treated. Regardless of your relationship status, financial situation, or religious affiliation, I encourage you to seek treatment. You will feel incredibly empowered.
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.”
– Ayn Rand –
Good luck on your journey.
– C, Age 24, NYC –
I got married in May 2010. I had a very interesting sexual relationship with my partner before getting married, but we never tried to have intercourse. During our honeymoon, we tried a lot of times to have intercourse, but failed terribly. Things deteriorated every time we got in bed as it started to feel like trying execute a mission which always fails, so we stopped trying so hard. After 6 months or so, I visited two gynecologists. One of them refereed me to a therapist who introduced me to the idea of dilation. We started with the smallest size which went fine, but then she gave me the bigger size which I could not dilate with. By this time she had identified me as a vaginismus patient. My husband started searching online for causes and treatments, and he found Maze Women’s Sexual Health and botulinum toxin. First it sounded scary, but at the time I had no other options. I was losing all my self-confidence and I felt like a freak that could not open her legs to anything, not even for a medical exam or even inserting a tampon!
I went there for the first appointment, where I met with amazing doctors. They were very friendly and very professional and they identified me as a vaginismus patient as well, and offered me two kinds of solutions – one was continuous dilation and the other was the botulinum toxin treatment (which I originally called to ask about). They explained the procedure to me, and four months later I scheduled and had the surgery which went very smoothly. After the procedure I started dilating with larger sizes of dilators which I never imagined I would be able to do! The led to having successful intercourse.
It took my husband and I a lot of research and courage to be able to do this since I live in a country where no one has ever even heard of botulinum toxin. I know it sounds like a cliché, but seriously, Maze Women’s Sexual Health changed my life. I am finally a normal woman and my relationship with my husband went back to magnificent again.
Finally, I just want to thank all the Doctors at Maze, everyone I met has been a great help and they are all really comfortable people to talk with. I felt at ease the moment I stepped into Maze for my first appointment up to this moment. Special thanks to Melissa who has been supportive all the way and amazingly friendly.
– N, Age 29 –
By the time I came to Maze Women’s Sexual Health, I had a combo platter of problems. I was having painful intercourse and it would bleed every time. It had gotten to the point where it was hurting too much sometimes to even have intercourse, as it felt like the entrance was swollen shut and not letting in any visitors; even tampons were hurting to push through. If we were successful on getting the penis in, I was in too much pain to enjoy it, and ultimately was losing my interest in sex with my partner, not because I didn’t find him attractive, but because I was associating sex with pain.
This went on for a year and a half. My gynecologist couldn’t figure out what was wrong, despite blood tests, a biopsy and an ultrasound. I was even referred to a urologist, was fully tested in that department, and everything kept coming back normal. I then began researching the symptoms myself and that’s when I decided to see a specialist and came across the Maze Women’s Sexual Health.
I had researched Vaginismus and figured that could be what I had. I then did an internet search looking for doctors that handle that type of medical condition and found the Center and another out on Long Island. I called both for information, and Maze seemed much nicer and helpful on the phone. The other place sounded inconvenienced, which didn’t seem like the most welcoming place to go for this type of an issue.
By the time I made the call, I had exhausted all my other attempts. My regular Gynecologist couldn’t figure it out, so I knew if it was ever going to be fixed I needed someone who specialized in it. It wasn’t hard to make the call; it was something I wish I had done sooner.
The first appointment was encouraging. I finally felt I had someone who was willing to listen and help figure it out. I didn’t feel like I was being rushed out the door and was just a number. The first appointment was a lot longer than I had expected, I was there for about 2 hours, and I could already tell the staff at the Center knew what they were doing and what they were talking about. They were able to point out and show me some of what was going on and you could tell they had dealt with these issues before and that I wasn’t alone in having these types of issues.
The bleeding from sex and irritation and pain seemed to come from being on the wrong birth control for too long. This birth control had screwed up my Testosterone and estrogen levels causing the area to not be as pliable, and to be irritated, and causing my desire level to go down from what was normal for me. My other issue was that I have developed vaginismus, which is an involuntary muscle spasm of the muscle ground in the pelvis area. This is what was causing me to have issues pushing a tampon or a penis in, and why it felt like I was hitting a block. Back when this all started, I had managed to get a scab on my cervix, and around that time I was using warming lube. The warming lube would get into the open would and was causing an intense pain upon entry. Not realizing this was what was going on, me and my partner had continued to use this lube for awhile which caused me to tense up upon entry, and eventually caused a muscle memory of associating entry with pain, causing a muscle spasm.
For the estrogen and testosterone levels, we started a treatment of creams that I’d apply to the affected area along with pills I would take daily to help get those levels back to normal. The Center also took me off birth control so we could evaluate new types that would work better and not cause these issues. For the Vaginismus, we used dilators. You start off with a small one and work your way up in size weekly to help stretch out the muscle group and get it used to something being in there. Depending on how well the muscle responds dictates how quickly you move up in sizes. You go until you are 2 sizes bigger than your partner so that you know it won’t be an issue. Of course I had to abstain while going through this process as to not derail it, but I still had to be intimate with my partner so that my body and mind could start associating being with him as not being painful and we could re-gain the intimacy while we were going through this.
I was very surprised that it took 6 weeks to fix something that had been an issue for a year and a half! I feel all better and back to normal.
I learned that it’s ok to see a specialist even without a referral if you feel they might be able to help., and for any women out there that are having problems, It sometimes takes less time to solve the problem then it took to live with it. I wish I had known about this place earlier into the problem, but am glad I finally got back on track and able to have pain free sex again!
– Michelle S, Age 32 –
For six and a half years of my marriage, my husband and I felt like we were living under a dark cloud. We were struggling with having intercourse. In fact, we couldn’t have intercourse. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, extremely lonely, and utterly hopeless. And then, I truly believe God sent Tara, Bat Sheva, and Dr. Werner as angels to not only shed light on our situation, but also provide an amazing breakthrough that has changed our marriage forever.
Before going to Maze Women’s Sexual Health earlier this year, I had gone to see an OBGYN and my husband had gone to see a urologist in the second year of our marriage. “Keep on trying” and “Here’s some Viagra and Cialis” were the responses we received. We tried to have intercourse using their advice but were still unsuccessful. We both thought my husband struggled with erectile dysfunction, and when even taking the medicine didn’t help, we were devastated. And as crazy as this sounds, we put this extremely important issue on the backburner until earlier this year.
We knew we couldn’t keep on ignoring this issue so my husband did some research in February of this year and found a YouTube video of Dr. Werner, the doctor on the male fertility side. As we watched, we had a very good feeling about him. After some prayer and discussion, we made an appointment with him for my husband. Fortunately, Dr. Werner wanted to see both of us for the first visit. As we told him our story, he told me that I may also have a problem — Vaginismus. I had never heard of that term before. Apparently, Vaginismus is a condition where there is involuntary tightness of the vagina during attempted intercourse. I knew that my vagina was tight when my husband tried to penetrate, but I always thought if his penis was hard enough, he would have been able to.
Dr. Werner directed me to Maze Women’s Sexual Health that day. I spoke with Bat Sheva Marcus, the clinical director, not only about our current issue, but she also asked about my sexual history. I shared things with her I’ve never shared with anyone. She was so understanding and comforting. Bat Sheva made me feel like my husband and I weren’t alone in our struggle. Already, I felt like the heavy weight that we had been carrying for so long was starting to lift.
After that, I was introduced to Tara Ford, the physician assistant that would help me during the dilation process, a process used to help women overcome Vaginismus. I still remember Tara pulling out this slender, white, plastic stick and telling me that she would insert it into my vagina. I was terrified, but Tara was amazing. She slowly talked me through the whole procedure, never forcing me to do something I wasn’t ready for. And even though there was a bit of pain at first, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. She gave me the tools and tips I needed to try the dilation process at home.
And so, for the next seven weeks, I would meet with Tara and Bat Sheva, almost every week, to continue the dilation process. Tara was my cheerleader, encouraging me and giving me the confidence that I could go to the next level in the dilation process. Bat Sheva would address any questions I had as my husband and I attempted intercourse and made the whole process not so scary. I know this sounds strange, but I actually enjoyed the dilation process. And it’s because of how supportive Tara and Bat Sheva were. There’s no way I would have been able to go through this successfully without them.
After the seventh week, miraculously, my husband and I were able to have intercourse!!! We were both shocked and amazed. All the work that Tara, Bat Sheva, and Dr. Werner paid off!
I think the single most important thing I learned from this whole experience is that I am not alone. Until I went to Maze Women’s Sexual Health, I had felt so isolated. I didn’t realize that so many other women struggled with the same things I did. Tara and Bat Sheva were my community in this struggle and it was so liberating to share freely about this with someone else.
If you are struggling with issues of sexuality, you are not alone. Maze has truly been a Godsend for my husband and I. I cannot say enough about them. And, I am extremely happy to report that we are now enjoying a healthy sex life. I highly recommend coming to Maze. You will be so glad you did!!!
– J –
I am 24 years old, and have been living with vaginismus for as long as I can remember, though for the majority of that time I didn’t realize it. I always knew that I felt differently about having sex than many of the people around me as we got older and our sexuality became something that, in our teenage years, my friends and peers became more interested in. When tracing the roots of my vaginismus, I know that my experience with my first boyfriend, when I was 13, is a major factor. He was older than me, and as we became more attached to each other he became more controlling and abusive in physical, emotional, and sexual ways. Being so young and confused it seemed impossible to get away from him, and it very much shaped my early sexual feelings in a way that included fear, guilt, shame, anger, and pain.
During all of my relationships after this I became more interested in being sexual, but without ever having intercourse. I was able to enjoy sexual interactions but always avoided having sex, and never fully explained to my partners why, because I didn’t understand it myself. As I got older I was unable to avoid the fact that we were not having sex, but when I thought about it I imagined a painful and invasive experience that immediately turned me off in every way. My instinct to just avoid sex became involuntary and a reaction that was entangled in my mind as well as my body. I never used tampons, rarely even tried to insert anything inside of me, and avoided doctors appointments that would include this. My first gynecologist appointment that was to include a pap smear was a failure, because the doctor wasn’t able to put even her finger inside of me. Simply being at the doctor’s office and attempting this made me anxious, nauseous, and unable to relax at all. The doctor didn’t tell me anything other than “You just need to learn to relax, or it won’t work” and I always left the appointments feeling like a failure but not knowing why.
When I was 23 this issue came to a head when I started a new relationship and was sick of lying about my issues, hiding them, and constantly obsessing about them. I obsessed every day, endlessly about it. It made me miserable and took a toll on my self-esteem in ways that I couldn’t stand to live with. I finally took the steps and found a therapist who I told the entire truth to, the first time I ever told someone out loud what was going on, which was really the first step because it somehow made it even more real.
After a few months of therapy I found out about the Maze Women’s Sexual Health while researching treatment options for vaginismus online, and heard about the botulinum toxin treatment. I read everything I could about it, talked to my doctor about it, and scheduled a phone appointment (since I don’t live in NY). It was very difficult to do, though it seems like such a simple thing. I was afraid and intimidated to face this issue, to keep telling my history to new people, and to take the risk of a procedure I’d never heard about before. After the phone call I had all of the information about the procedure, what would happen, how much it would cost, and felt generally more comfortable with the idea. The doctor I spoke to was almost able to guess my history immediately, the reactions I got from previous doctors, my fears about physical intimacy, and how much of a stress it put on my mind and relationships. She was so positive that I was a great candidate for the procedure and assured me that I should not be afraid, which put my mind at ease more and more. My main concerns that were a factor in my decision were that the procedure would somehow not work, it would be difficult to afford because my insurance didn’t cover it, I would have to travel to get there and spend two nights in NY, and mostly that I was still afraid to have to physically deal with this issue because of how long I had avoided it. Even though I was still very skeptical and unsure I finally decided to commit to going through with it.
The staff at Maze Women’s Sexual Health was very helpful in my decision-making process and went out of their way to assist my financial concerns and finding a place to stay before and after the procedure. I had my pre-op blood test and check-up at my local family doctor and was cleared for the procedure a week before going to NY. My mother and I drove to NY the day before the surgery, and the next morning we went to the surgical center. I was so nervous and still apprehensive about what to expect, though it had been described to me in detail I was still afraid because it was hard for me to imagine how it would feel because I always associated my vagina with nothing but pain.
At the surgical center a nurse from Maze, who I had previously been in contact with and felt comfortable with, got me ready for surgery and helped to keep me calm and relaxed before hand. She gave me a simple external check before the operation and I was sedated. While I was knocked out, there was an incision made in my hymen, I was given a topical anesthetic, botulinum toxin was injected in my vaginal walls to stop my muscle spasms, which allowed the largest vaginal dilator to be inserted. I was also given a pap smear, which was helpful because I was never able to go through with one without sedation and should have had one years before. When I woke up the nurse was there to help me learn to remove and re-insert the dilators, and I was amazed at being able to do this without pain for the first time in my life. I spent the day recovering with the dilators still in, which was somewhat painful as the sedation and anesthesia wore off, but it was manageable and worth it when I was able to fairly comfortably remove and reinsert the dilators as I needed to. That was the moment when I was finally able to face the fear of something being inside of me, and realize that if I wasn’t afraid of it and didn’t expect it to be painful it was completely manageable. I had a post-op appointment the following day with Melissa where she checked my progress with the dilators and helped me be more comfortable with them, and answered all of the many questions I had about what to do from that point.
In the four weeks since then I have, generally, used the dilators every day and it has gotten easier each time. Two and a half weeks after the procedure I had sex for the first time. It took some patience and preparation, but like using the dilators, it has gotten easier and easier every time after the first. I am currently making the transition from dilating often to having sex often, and I have never felt better or more confident about myself sexually. I have had multiple check-ins by phone and email with the doctors at Maze Women’s Sexual Health and they have been so supportive about my progress. The turning point for me after the procedure was learning to change my thinking, not changing my body physically. When I began to believe that I was capable of adapting to this process, it got rid of my fears about being in pain and gave me the ability to relax my body. For anyone considering this procedure or some type of vaginismus treatment, my best advice would be to consider what you would do about it if you weren’t afraid of your previous perception of the mental and physical pain associated with your body. My answer to that question was that I had to take the risk, and have faith in my ability to allow something new and good to happen in place of the memories of pain and discomfort. It hasn’t been an easy process in any way, but it’s been a completely rewarding one that I am so proud of overcoming.
– L, Age 24 –
Shortly after going through menopause I started experiencing searing pain during intercourse. I spoke to my gynecologist about it and he prescribed some hormone cream. It didn’t help the problem and my doctor said there was nothing he could do. So for many, many years I abstained from intercourse with my husband.
On the Internet one day I found information about Maze Women’s Sexual Health. I was very interested and thought maybe they could help me. I waited four months before I gave them a call.
I called and filled out the necessary forms and set up my first appointment. I first spoke with a sex therapist and then with Melissa. She explained the treatment to me, which was simple enough. During the first treatment I did experience some pain, but worked through it and eventually it subsided. I progressed through the treatment quickly. It took about three months after which my husband and I finally tried to have intercourse again and I was totally pain free! I was so thankful to the Center for their patience and understanding. I am celebrating my 40th wedding anniversary and I feel like a young bride again.
– SS, Age 60 –
I was having vaginal pain with intercourse that had developed after menopause.
I probably suffered for a year before I mentioned it to my gynecologist. After trying estrogen locally in various forms and not getting relief, she suggested I call the Center.
I did not call immediately…hoping it would magically go away just as it had started.
Finally I made the call and after reading all the emailed material on sexual malfunction and dysfunction, I felt I was definitely headed in the wrong direction…after all…there was no problem with my sex life…only that it was painful. Hesitantly, I kept my appointment. After spending some time at my first appointment with Barbara and Tara, I was really put at ease and fortunately they felt my problem was simple and could be dealt with quickly.
I’m happy to say after three weeks of using dilators regularly I am back to normal and feeling great.
Sometimes the golden years become a bit tarnished……..I should have called sooner to get the sparkle back!!
– S, Age 64 –
I got married in May 2010. I had a very interesting sexual relationship with my partner before getting married, but we never tried to have intercourse. During our honeymoon we tried many times to have intercourse, but failed. Our sex life continued to deteriorate, every time we got in bed it started to feel like we were trying to execute a mission which always fails, so we stopped trying so much. After 6 months or so, I visited two gynecologists. One of them referred me to a therapist who started introducing me to the idea of dilation. We started with the smallest size which went fine and then she gave me the bigger dilator with which I could not dilate. At this time she has also identified me as a vaginismus patient. My husband started googling causes and treatments, and he found Maze Women’s Sexual Health and the botulinum toxin treatment they offer. First it sounded scary, but at the time I had no other option. I was losing all my self confidence and I felt like a freak that could not open her legs to anything, not even for a medical exam or even inserting a tampon.
I went there for first appointment, where I met with amazing doctors. They very friendly and very professional and they identified me as a vagnisumus patient as well, and offered me two kinds of solutions – one was continuous dilation and the other was the botulinum toxin which I had originally called about. They explained the procedure to me. Four months later, I scheduled the surgery and had the surgery, which went very smoothly. I was then able to start dilating with larger sizes of dilators which I never imagined I would be able to do, which led successfully to intercourse.
It took me and my husband a lot of research and courage to be able to go through this process because I live in a country where I had never even heard of botulinum toxin. I know it sounds like a cliché, but Maze Women’s Sexual Health changed my life. I am finally a normal woman and my relationship with my husband went back to magnificent again.
Finally, I just want to thank all the Doctors at Maze. Everyone I met has been a great help and I am really comfortable talking to them. I felt at ease the moment I stepped into the center for my first appointment up to this moment. Special thanks to Melissa who has been supportive all the way and an amazing friend.
– N, Egypt –
As with most major decisions or problems, it is not normal to find the right solution in the first place you look. By the time you find the Maze Women’s Sexual Health website and possibly read this testimonial, you will be ready for anything.
Please be willing to call the team at Maze to set up an initial consultation. You’ll start the process that I have just finished and I guarantee that every dollar you invest on travel to visit the office and to have the vaginismus (botulinum toxin) procedure will result in a wealth of happiness for you and your partner.
Like I mentioned, I just finished the treatment process with the assistance of Dr. Werner, Melissa and the others in the Purchase, NY office. Allow me to explain further…
My body was locked: like the barred gates of the Citadel. Nothing was going in and it was surprising that anything came out. By nothing I mean that growing up I never used a tampon, so this problem dates back for 16 years. Even when the time came for gynecological exams, the experience was excruciatingly painful and draining.
This fear of penetration and automatic tightness followed me to my honeymoon. One would expect a magical night of romance and hot passion. My husband and I simply looked forward to the hot breakfast buffet at the hotel where we were staying.
Over the course of our marriage, I attempted to solve my inability to have sex every which way: from discussing it with my family doctor and analyzing the issue with a handful of therapists, to reading books on intimacy / sexual desire and completing workbooks by delving into “attitudes and beliefs” / “misunderstandings” about sex.
After years of seeking out various attempts to solve this problem, my patient and supportive husband did a five-minute Internet search and came across Maze Women’s Sexual Health. It was at that point the trumpets blared, the choir sang and Vegas neon lights appeared around the computer screen. I exaggerate, but you can imagine how hopeful we both felt about this procedure.
I actually cried when I read the informational packet that was emailed to me, because I could not fathom having sex without pain.
Fast forward three months to my first appointment at Maze. Since I was traveling from out of town, the approach for my procedure was expedited. The first appointment included a physical exam and explanation of what to expect.
The following day the procedure was scheduled, where Dr. Werner and his staff did such a professional job with the entire procedure. I actually awoke from the anesthesia with a 6” dilator inside of me; by far the largest thing ever to break into the barricade.
Following the procedure, Melissa spent time with me individually to have me become acclimated in practicing with the various sized dilators. My reaction to the entire process was that I was simply floored.
I couldn’t believe how well I responded to the procedure and could get things to work. Imagine: no more pain or discomfort. At this point the worse thing going on was that I looked like a penguin, waddling around town with a dilator inside as I walked. That’s nothing!
One week after the procedure, my husband and I had sex for the first time. We are a little awkward in our movements, but with plenty of desired practice we will be just as good as the professionals. I truly appreciate my husband for his support and actually discovering this process exists.
The time and effort spent after the procedure is very important, especially in consistently using the dilators. The botulinum toxin lasts approximately three months, so we’ll see what happens at that point* I can definitely say that this process is producing more confidence in me, which is positive to apply to all areas.
Although I wish I could have come to Maze Women’s Sexual Health sooner, I am definitely glad to be at this point in my life.
Many thanks to Dr. Werner, Melissa and the Maze staff!
– C, Age 28 –
I am a 28 year old who never had intercourse in her life. I’ve been this way always. I was afraid of the pain, and getting pregnant. I had been afraid that there was nothing anyone could do.
At the last visit I made to my Gynecologist, he told me that it was all in my head…that I just needed to relax and it would happen.
That made me feel worse because I knew it was not that easy for me to just let it happen.
My boyfriend of 11 years, yes 11 years, was watching a show one day where they talked about many things including couples that were dating or were married for years and could never have sex. He told me about it and I started to cry. I thought I was the only one going through this, how selfish was I?
After he went to bed I decided to Google more info about this other couples. After searching, I bumped into an article that talked about Vaginismus, a condition that does not allow you to have sexual intercourse. I was amazed about the number of women that were going through this.
I was researching online for a place where I can find someone to talk to; a professional that could help me and my boyfriend get through this once and for all, and I found Maze Women’s Sexual Health.
I felt weird right before I made the phone call, but at the same time I was extremely excited and hopeful to find a solution to this problem I was having. I was also a bit nervous on my first appointment, but everyone was so nice and friendly that I felt at ease right of way
Since the dilators didn’t work out very well for me. I decided to go for a more unconventional treatment. The botulinum toxin treatment was the best approach for me because it helped me overcome the fear of having something in my vagina.
The treatment went as follows:
They put me to under conscious anesthesia for a procedure that took about 15 to 20 min.
After putting a topical anesthetic in my vaginal walls the doctor injected the area with botulinum toxin. After the muscles relaxed a large dilator was inserted and I woke up with it already inside. It was such an overwhelming experience waking up with the dilator inside of me. I felt accomplished.
Within a week and a half my boyfriend and I were able to have sex. It takes some getting used to. This is a new experience for me; for us. But we are working on it. I still follow up with the Nurse Practitioner, to see my progress. As for me, I feel amazing. I’m Happy. I feel like a woman.
Fear is a part of life. Lesson learned, you can get over it, with the right help and the right attitude, fear can be overcome. I would want other women to know that they should not let fear of the unknown control you. It’s never too late to search for help. I just wished I would’ve found out about my condition sooner.
Vaginismus is not something that people talk about. And if it wasn’t because of that show my boyfriend saw, I would’ve never done the research and I would’ve never looked for help.
It took me too long to figure out what I had was not all in my head. Don’t be afraid to get help. You are not alone.
– L, Age 29 –
Prior to my sophomore year in college, I had had three GYN vaginal exams over the course of three years, each ending in extreme pain and anxiety. Although, the doctor visits were horrible, I always hoped that my first experience with intercourse would be amazing because I would be relaxed.
My first experience with painful intercourse was when I was a sophomore in college, and when things didn’t go as planned, I thought to myself that it just was not the right moment, or the wrong guy.
After many failed relationships before the age of 25, I knew that the tearing, extreme pain that I was experiencing was going to ruin any chance of developing an intimate relationship. Being a young professional, a single girl in NYC with friends who are all engaging in sexual intercourse, wearing tampons, and having regular vaginal exams, it was very difficult when you are holding in an embarrassing secret that you cannot share with anyone, especially potential boyfriends.
I don’t know how the condition of vaginismus developed, but after reading online about similar women’s experiences, I found the Medical Center for Female Sexuality was close to my apartment, and could possibly offer me options.
I decided to explore treatment after I had realized that I needed to help myself before I could become comfortable in any relationship. After contacting Maze Women’s Sexual Health, and meeting with Kathleen and Shannon, I reviewed the various alternatives for treating this condition and decided that botulinum toxin was the appropriate choice for me, in eliminating my physical symptoms.
botulinum toxin injections seemed a little intimidating at first because it is a new procedure, and it is technically a surgical option. But, I was so comfortable with everyone at the Women’s Center, and it was nice to open up to professionals about my problem. Unlike most of their patients, I did not have a spouse or significant other to share the experience with, but this was also a positive aspect because I had time to become comfortable on my own.
When I arrived at the surgical center for the procedure, every step was explained to me, especially the dilator therapy. I was never in any pain, and even after I woke up from the procedure, I never felt the large dilator in place.
When I saw the largest dilator for the first time, I was so happy that I was able to achieve this first step with no anxiety. I quickly learned how to take the dilators in and out before I went home, and continued to use them for the first night. Using the dilators is not easy. It can feel very messy and sore at times, but it was never anything close to any pain I had experienced before the procedure.
When the botulinum toxin had taken effect after a week, I was able to use the larger dilators so easily, even in the bathroom at work. Working with the largest dilators really helped me in progressing to intercourse. About a month after the botulinum toxin injections I attempted intercourse for the first time, with a new guy, and was so happy that I had very little pain, just some burning and stretching, especially upon initial penetration.
I’m sure I was not the best partner ever, but was so happy to fulfill a part of my life that had been missing. Also, being able to use tampons is the best, since I am always out with my friends or on vacation.
I continue to use the dilators at least twice a week, and also continue to work on feeling comfortable with my body. I recommend visiting the Center to anyone with vaginismus. The regime for this therapy is intimidating at first, but can be life changing.
The support and aftercare I received from the center was very beneficial, and although being diagnosed with vaginismus was a challenging experience for me, overcoming it has really helped me gain even more confidence.
– M, Age 27 –
After our wedding our “journey” began. My husband could not get inside of me! We could not figure out what the problem was. At first we thought it was him. He consistently tried, failed and went soft. We spoke to professionals who told us to stop “trying”. They felt it was performance pressure.
One guy told my husband his position was all wrong! So we struggled with positions, to no avail! The next guy thought it was vaginismus-involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles which makes penetration impossible. We were both surprised at the shift of “responsibility”. We were informed that there is a physical therapy that helps for this condition. However, if we stopped “trying” so hard and just enjoyed ourselves, it might resolve itself…
So we tried not to try. We tried to relax and enjoy. Very difficult! Month after month…Failure after failure..! My husband, ever the mover and shaker, was running out of patience. He felt we should be “doing” something. Thus, we were referred for physical therapy.
Since I was not covered by insurance, this would be quite an expense for us, as well as a big schlep (to NYC). But, we needed the help so we didn’t really have many choices.
The therapist that was assigned to me proved to be extremely gentle, caring and competent. However, we ran into a problem with the administration. They were not willing to work with our needs at all. It was quite an unpleasant experience, to say the least.
When a renowned midwife told me I was wasting my time and money by going to therapy, since I am definitely open enough, we decided not to continue with it.
So we were back to “not trying”. Trying to pretend everything was dandy… How trying!
Enter Maze Women’s Sexual Health! Our MIRACLE!
The entire staff was so friendly and accommodating!
Dr. Batsheva Marcus could not believe what we’ve been through! I must admit i was quite anxious before my first visit. However, she put me at ease immediately. Her spontaneity and candor were refreshing. Dr. Marcus confidently assured me that as long as i kept coming, we would be helped!
And so, I was introduced to Melissa Ferrara, RNP who would be working with me. One cannot help but love her! She is so kind, caring and understanding as well as extremely professional and knowledgeable.
I came once a week for dilation therapy. We started by inserting a small dilator into my vagina and keeping it there for a few minutes. I did this at home every day, in between visits. Gradually we increased to larger and larger dilators. When I no longer felt pain with the largest dilator, I was given a very true to life penis dildo. Imust say it was a lot of fun! I practiced inserting it into my vagina. I held it in, turned it around, moved it in and out… Until it was painless.
After only three sessions of therapy over a course of three weeks, we were ready to try for real! We discussed positions, timing…My husband was given Viagra to keep him hard in case the going got rough…
Miracle of Miracles! He got in! We could not believe it! After close to three years of struggling, of mounting frustration and near despair, we finally did it! We could not believe our good fortune! We kept trying..! And succeeding! It was like a dream come true! Now we cannot wait to be together!
Thank you Maze for being that professional yet very cozy haven of support, encouragement, warmth and know-how!
You changed our lives in the most beautiful way!
– K, Age 31 –
For years I put my feelings to the side, making excuses for why I could not use tampons or have sex. After being married for almost a year, my wonderful husband and I were still unable to consummate our marriage. Every time we attempted intercourse, it would end in tears and I could feel my confidence being eaten away.
My husband is an incredible, understanding man, but I could see our troubles with intercourse affecting his confidence as well. There were no more excuses left to be made.
Finally, I said enough is enough. I had to be fair to myself, my husband and our relationship. I took my gynecologist’s advice and saw a psychologist. Unfortunately, I left her office feeling more down on myself and alone than ever before.
“Why can’t I just have sex like everyone else?” I thought as I cried on my couch. In desperation, my husband and I surfed the internet for help, and there it was: Maze Women’s Sexual Health. Finally, we had hope.
Of course, I was extremely anxious about making the phone call. This was our last hope, what if this resulted in disappointment just as all our other attempts to a solution did? But, we had nothing to worry about.
At the Maze I was not looked at with confusion or sorrow, but with compassion and understanding. There was finally a name for my problem- Vaginismus. And even better, there was a solution.
In a matter of a few months, I went from being terrified and anxious about intercourse to having and enjoying intercourse. My treatment consisted of about 7 weeks of daily exercises. At first they were a bit painful, but they became easier and easier with each passing day. I could feel the progress- it was actually working!
Looking back, I cannot believe how fast and easy the process was! In a matter of months, the Maze Women’s Sexual Health “fixed” the struggles I thought would never end.
Maze changed my life. I can finally have and enjoy intercourse like the rest of the world. I feel normal again, and that is the greatest gift in the world.
The amazing doctors were there for me every step of the way, and I cannot thank them enough. They seemed to know what I was thinking before I said it, taking away my discomfort and guilt. They understood my problem, created a course of action, and best of all, made me believe I could do it.
I wish I had known of Maze Women’s Sexual Health years ago. No one should suffer from sexual discomfort and I urge anyone who does to call Maze. You deserve it.
– K, Age 26 –
A follow up comment from this patient several months after treatment:
I just wanted to write and let you know that I went to the gynecologist (for an exam) and everything went well! I was able to have the full exam!
I finally know for sure that I am healthy and can have peace of mind knowing I conquered the challenge I have been facing for years. I would never have been able to do it without you.
Thank you so much!!
And another exciting follow up:
I just wanted to write and let you know that I am 15 weeks pregnant!! I just wanted to thank you once again for the miracles you provide. I am forever grateful!
– K –
I’ve never exactly “gotten along” with my vagina. Before I went to Maze Women’s Sexual Health, I felt frustrated and miserable that I could not complete a gynecology exam, was unable to insert anything into my vagina, and became extremely anxious at the very thought of even opening my legs for a exam. I felt dysfunctional and like a failure.
My mother set up an appointment for me atMaze Women’s Sexual Health, but I had little hope that their team of doctors would be able to help me.
I walked into the office extremely anxious and was prepared for another miserable gynecology exam experience in which I wouldn’t be able to comply with the doctor’s requests to relax, open my legs, and let her poke around down there.
I was relieved when I was not immediately ushered into a cold room, told to undress, and open my legs. Instead, I met with Shannon and Melissa who seemed more interested in finding out about who I was and my personal history rather than just focusing on my “vagina problems”.
Although Shannon and Melissa were very understanding and sympathetic, my experience overcoming vaginismus was not easy. I had serious, deep-rooted issues with my vagina.
My anxiety made it impossible for me to even open my legs during our first few sessions. As you can imagine, it was a huge milestone when we were able to insert a tiny q-tip during our 2nd session.
Although this may seem like a small or insignificant feat for some, for me it was the moment of realization that Melissa and her team of compassionate and patient co-workers might actually be able to help me.
Over time, we worked to increase the sizes of dilators that I could insert. It was not always easy, or pleasant, but the slow and steady progress I made has changed my life. I have had sex on several occasions and can even wear tampons!
Although I am still working to become fully comfortable with my vagina and sexuality, the progress I have made is truly remarkable.
I applaud the Maze team for their continued dedication and commitment to helping me overcome both the physical and emotional difficulties of having vaginismus.
– L, Age 22 –
I have vaginismus and, according to your wonderful clinic, I am at a stage 1 out of 5. I think that is in part to my determination to get rid of the “disease,” if I can even call it that.
I came to the clinic 3 weeks before my wedding because I was determined to have sex on my wedding night. I lived with the burning my whole life, never wore tampons, and was completely shut down when it came time for anything sexual near my vagina. I was SO afraid — it was not normal to me. I didn’t hear of any of my friends having this problem so I thought it was only me.
Honestly, it is so normal to feel pure pain, that your body shuts down and you can’t imagine having anything in your vagina.
I saw my gynecologist and I freaked out when she told me, very rudely, that I probably have vaginismus. She did not explain what it was, but just yelled at me and told me that I was making up the pain in my head. During the exam it felt like a burning fire stick any time she tried to insert even a q-tip it — was HORRIBLE.
I went online with my mother and she found your clinic. Thankfully and tearfully I called and spoke to the receptionist and already began to feel better. The receptionist, and doctors, and every single person at your clinic were kind and compassionate and fully understanding people- I knew it was exactly where I needed to be.
After my first appointment I was supposed to use the dilators, which would help me stretch gradually so I could get used to having something inside me. I remember crying in the bathroom out of fear. I did NOT want to do it.
The first week I cried at home and couldn’t get the smallest size in. I called the clinic, and the doctor saw me within 30 minutes. She made it her PRIORITY that I was okay. Where else would doctors do this? I think nowhere.
My doctor Melissa helped ease me into the dilation and was 100% understanding. I trusted her and still do. It burned a little but it was not a scary burning like at the gynecologist.
I left having inserted the dilator and a smile on my face. I felt comfortable to call the doctor and admit I was having trouble because I knew they would help me.
Each week the dilators got larger and larger, yet I was okay with it. I looked at the largest size I was up to- the size of a large male penis – and compared it to where I began- a small teeny tampon, and I couldn’t believe it.
Eventually, I adjusted, took my time and after I successfully completed the dilation, I was on cloud nine, glowing, I was elated.
Successfully, I had sex on my wedding night and cried out of shock for the next hour; and successfully had sex the next 5 nights. I have been married for a week now and have never been happier.
If it wasn’t for this clinic, I do not think that I would have wanted to even get married for the fear of having intercourse. So thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, and my husband’s very happy heart!
I can’t BELIEVE I am where I am and it is only a short 4 weeks later. I am so proud of myself and I am so thankful for the doctors at the clinic. There are days when it is difficult for me to dilate. But instead of being upset, I take a minute to relax my body and try again. I know I can do it.
For other women who suffer from this, I would say, you can do it too, with help. There is room inside for sex without burning, for a baby to come out one day, g-d willing, and you can do it.
Please know that there is hope and this clinic is there for hope. I just give you the blessing of trusting these doctors and taking the step to call them. The clinic was truly a miracle for me and I only can imagine what they can do for you.
– R, Age 22 –
In the beginning, we would try fairly often; sometimes we would stop because it hurt too me too much, and sometimes we would stop when it hurt him too much. He said that it felt like he was pushing against a brick wall. We never succeeded, and as time went on, we tried less and less.
All along I knew that something was really wrong, and I finally realized that I needed to do something. My husband and I loved each other so much, and I didn’t want to put pressure on us and our relationship. My husband was so amazing, and sweet, and understanding, but the whole situation was still difficult. So I finally had to admit that there was a physical problem that needed to be fixed.
As soon as I had time, I made an appointment with my gynecologist. The appointment was short, but I thought that she was nice and seemed understanding. She reinforced that I had mild vaginismus, in which vaginal muscles contract, making it painful and difficult to have sex. She prescribed me some valium as a muscle relaxant, and sent me on my way.
After this, I opened up to my mother. In all the years that this had been going on, I had never told anyone about it, because I was so embarrassed. My mother didn’t think that the valium plan would work, and she knew Batsheva, the clinical director, and so she strongly encouraged me to call the Medical Center for Female Sexuality.
When I first met with Batsheva and Melissa, they were both extremely easy to talk to and understanding. They worked hard to make me as comfortable as possible, which I appreciated so much. The whole treatment process was much shorter and physically easier than I expected. To be entirely honest, however, it was very emotionally difficult.
For three years, I had tried to push all this “stuff” to the back of my head, and actually dealing with it was really hard. Batsheva and Melissa spent a ton of time talking with me about all the things that I was having a hard time with – feeling like I wasn’t normal, feeling like a failure – and they really helped me get past it.
After two months, the dilation process was finished and my husband I were able to have sex. Since then, everything has become easier and easier, and we’re extremely happy. Before I went to Maze Women’s Sexual Health, I honestly thought that I would never have sex. I don’t think I can fully articulate how much I appreciate everything that Batsheva and Melissa did for me. But I honestly feel like a weight was lifted, and although my husband and I were always happy and always loved each other, everything is even better now. We are doing great, and we are both just so grateful that someone could actually help us fix this problem.
– R, Age 25 –
I came to Maze Women’s Sexual Health in a state of desperation. I had spent the past seven years unable to have intercourse with my husband because it was too painful. All along, I thought it was something I’d “get used to,” but it became clear that that was not going to happen. I had no idea where to turn and I was afraid that this would be a lifetime sentence…for me and my wonderful husband.
I consulted my gynecologist, who was sympathetic but had no suggestions as to how this problem may be treated. I also consulted my endocrinologist with the same result. All the while, intimacy with my husband was strained because of my feelings of anxiety and guilt. If not for his patience and understanding, I don’t think our new marriage (we are a couple in our 20s) would have endured.
It was a few years, after realizing that I needed some kind of medical help, before I figured out where to turn for it. Through research online I came upon the website for Maze and I called immediately. I can still remember the excitement I felt after describing my problem, when the receptionist said “Yes, you’ve called the right place.” I was cautiously optimistic…but this was much closer than I’d come to a solution than ever before.
Shortly thereafter, I met with Dr. Marcus. She put me at ease right away with her “You-can-call-me-Bat Sheva” familiarity. Her ease at talking about sex made me laugh to myself and probably blush in her presence, but also it made me feel completely uninhibited, knowing she was not judging me. She was very honest, and made no promises about a quick and easy treatment, which made me trust her that much more. As a woman in my 20s having these kinds of problems with sex, which none of my friends had ever experienced nor have my doctors known much about, I felt anxious and for lack of a better term “like a freak of nature.” Bat Sheva made me feel like discussing my inner-most problems was “coffee talk” because she was so approachable, yet at the same time she always maintained a professional demeanor.
One could say that Bat Sheva Marcus led me to the yellow brick road and at the end was a healthy sex life. My treatment consisted of 6 weeks of daily exercises that were a little uncomfortable at worst…but I felt a steady progression, which was very encouraging. Bat Sheva and her team monitored my progress and were available for questions. And now that horribly painful intercourse, a condition that nobody would validate or acknowledge, much less treat, is a thing of my past.
It is so important for women to know that they do not need to suffer and “just deal with” intercourse that is painful…and that just because the problem is not common, doesn’t make it insignificant.
It was one of the best things I ever did for myself and my marriage.
I came to Maze after a couple of frustrating months of being a newlywed and not able to consummate my marriage. I had a feeling that before I got married that I would have trouble with consummating my marriage because visits to the gynecologist had been very painful.
With the support of my husband I called Maze Women’s Sexual Health and made an appointment. The atmosphere was warm and friendly yet professional. After a quick physical examination it was determined that I had vaginisimus. The treatment was inserting dilators in order to expand the vagina and make it easier for me to get used to have something inside of me. Every week I used a bigger dilator until I had gotten to the largest one. I think there were about 7 or 8. At the beginning the treatment was very painful…As the weeks went on I became more comfortable with the dilators and it progressed from pain to mild discomfort.
While I wouldn’t say the treatment was easy, it was definitely worthwhile and effective. The support and encouragement I received along the way from everyone made it possible to complete the program successfully. I am now able to enjoy sex with my husband without any pain. I urge anyone with a sexual problem to get help at Maze It was one of the best things I ever did for myself and my marriage.
– L, Age 28 –
I was a virgin when I started treatment at Maze Women’s Sexual Health.
I had always been anxious about vaginal penetration and had also had some painful gynecological exams. My gynecologist said my hymen was especially thick, so I had it surgically removed. When I still wasn’t able to insert a tampon or anything else months after the surgery, I knew I needed help.
I went to Maze and worked with Melissa for a couple months, practicing with dilators. Each week I graduated to a bigger dilator. By the end of the treatment, I was able to successfully have (pain-free) sex with a male friend of mine. A few months later, I met a guy from an online dating site who lived out of state about two hours away. We’ve now been together 5 months and are are very happy.
Working with Melissa got me through something that felt impossible at the time. I probably would have been able to conquer it on my own eventually, but not without a lot of pain…not just physical, but emotional.
I’m also pretty sure I wouldn’t have had the confidence to meet my boyfriend if I hadn’t felt sure my vaginismus was cured. I’m very glad that I went to Maze Women’s Sexual Health.
Every time my husband and I tried to have sex we failed because it was too painful for me. My husband has always been very supportive, but my confidence level was going lower every day. After two weeks of trying and not succeeding we started looking for doctors online and we found a doctor that referred us toMaze Women’s Sexual Health. I went on to Maze’s website and read about them, and I knew that this was the right place to go immediately. I realized I was experiencing what a lot of other women had experienced (thanks to their testimonials on the website)!
I met with Tara and Barbara during my first visit to Maze. They gave me the feeling that I wasn’t alone and that there is nothing abnormal about me. From the time that I called Maze for an appointment up to the last day of my treatment, I never felt uncomfortable. Tara makes you realize how beautiful your genitals are and that there is nothing to be ashamed of – I know how awkward it is for anyone to show their genitals to an unknown person, but I was never uneasy with Tara. They discovered that I had something called vaginismus. I was treated using vaginal dilators with sizes increasing every week and after about two months of dilation I could finally have painless sex with my husband. All I can say is that if you have any sex-related problems don’t think twice to pick up the phone and make an appointment with Maze Women’s Sexual Health. It will be an experience that you will cherish and never regret.
– PR, Age 26 –