Vaginismus: A Former Patient’s Perspective

Hi everyone, my name is Kimberly C. I had the chance to moderate the Maze Blogcast on Vaginismus on 2/24/17 and am so happy that I had this opportunity. I had vaginismus all during my 20s and into my early 30s and understand so many of the emotions that go along with having it. I tried so hard to overcome on my own through the use of dilators and also with PT and counseling alone but could not. I ended up learning about receiving Vaginismus Treatment Under Anesthesia as a vaginismus treatment through an online forum that I belonged too. This sounded so different to me at the time but I wanted to overcome so badly that I researched, researched and researched even more and asked the doctor so many questions.

I had the procedure with my husband by my side and it was the one thing that worked to cure my vaginismus when nothing else did. I was never able to achieve any penetration (even the smallest tampons) and was able to dilate with all of the sized dilators on the same day that I had the procedure. I then went home and practiced with the dilators while liberally coating them with surgilube and lidocaine combo and was then able to make love to my husband 2 weeks following the treatment. I then had another huge first and was able to have a successful ob/gyn exam and also use tampons for the first time. I then had the biggest first of my life and was able to become pregnant and we have a beautiful two year old son. I truly believe that this would not have happened if I hadn’t learned of the Vaginismus Treatment Under Anesthesia procedure on this online vaginismus forum and take the necessary steps to learn about it and have it.

It is for this reason that I am so passionate about helping others with vaginismus through online avenues (i.e. the Forum, exchanging emails, and the recent Blogcast that I participated in). I want others to not feel alone and be able to have this wonderful support group as well as a resource for understanding vaginismus. I became interested in doing a Blogcast on vaginismus as far back as November of last year when I first posted about it. It took off and we were able to have an excellent discussion with awesome questions and answers about literally everything vaginismus. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please, please do and check it out. Also, please join the vaginismus forum and post, post, post. And, even if you don’t post, please know we are still here for you and you are just as important part of the Vaginismus Forum as others and you will learn a wealth of information about vaginismus and also not feel alone while going through this. You have my support as well as the entire team at Maze Women’s Health. If you have vaginismus, please consider contacting them and working with them in any way possible (i.e. Vaginismus Treatment Under Anesthesia; Dilation only; etc.). It was so worth it for my family and I to have the Botulinum Toxin treatment program and changed our lives in such an amazing way!!!

Here’s an excerpt of the blog cast:

'What are ways to conquer avoidance? / How can I get over my avoidance of sex?'

This is a very good question. I had vaginismus through my 20s and into my early 30s. I wanted more than anything to “fix” it but I did avoid it altogether at times as I would try one thing (i.e. dilating on my own, visiting a doctor who did not understand, etc.) and I would get discouraged that it didn’t work. One thing that I did do and would suggest is being a part of a vaginismus forum. At the time, I belonged to a yahoo forum for trying to conceive with vaginismus. I never ever posted but even at my most discouraged moments and when I was actively avoiding everything vaginismus, I still took the time to read the posts and in the back of my mind, it gave me hope that I would still be able to overcome someday. It also led me to discovering the Vaginismus Treatment Under Anesthesia treatment program as another member talked about her success with it. Another thing that has helped others is to have a vaginismus email buddy (even one friend who has or is going through this). You don’t have to talk constantly but by having this outlet to vent to really helps so much.

I 100% have had avoidance of sex. While having vaginismus, any attempts (i.e. finger, penis, etc.) caused excruciating pain and their literally was a wall of resistance. I wanted more than anything to “will” it to happen but it didn’t until I received the treatment program. After this, the great wall (as my hubby called it), did dissipate and I was able to insert the dilators and later my husband. Then, once this pain/negativity was no longer associated with intercourse, we both no longer avoided trying and later even enjoyed it. 

'I have had vaginismus my entire life. My exams must be done under heavy sedation, and I have never been able to progress beyond the smallest of the dilators despite therapy. I am 42 years old and have never been able to have intercourse because of this problem, and I feel as if there is little I can do about it. I don't even know if this is a question- it seems more like a statement or a plea. I want to be normal.'

I am so, so sorry that you are going through this. Please know that there are treatments out there for vaginismus and you can 100% overcome. I often felt very discouraged while going through it. You have already taken an awesome step by participating in the Blogcast here and talking about it. If you have had difficulty with dilation as you describe, I would definitely suggest considering the Vaginismus Treatment Under Anesthesia treatment program. This worked so well for me personally because I could finally insert the dilators without hitting the wall of pain/resistance. Then, I was also able to move up in dilator size as the medication took affect and, again, the normal excruciating pain with all attempts at insertion was gone. 

'Are there birth control options for women with vaginismus that do not require pap smears how do other women handle this when it is traumatic to have a pap smear. How do you have that conversation with a doctor?'

While having vaginismus, I could not undergo an exam despite trying and I did deal with some very rude providers who suggested to “just relax”, etc. It was so frustrating for me. I have some thoughts that may help regarding starting the conversation with a doctor. Vaginismus.com has an absolutely excellent script that is very helpful as a means of talking to your physician about vaginismus:

Sample Script: Self-Guided History of Sexual Pain

1. Introduce the problem:
“I have been having problems with pain during sex and hope you will be able to help me.”

2. Provide a description of the pain (be specific):
•It happens when …”my husband tries insert his penis in my vagina” or “once he is inside and starts to move I feel burning and tighten up”, etc.
•The pain is located …”at the entrance to my vagina. My vagina is like a wall; he just cannot get it in.” or “after he is inside I feel burning around the penis just inside the entrance”, etc.
•The pain lasts …”as long as he keeps trying, especially if we try forcing it in. Once he stops there is no pain.”
•This has been happening since …”our honeymoon two years ago and has continued to happen every time we try to have sex” (primary vaginismus) or “my hysterectomy eight months ago”(secondary vaginismus), etc. [Note: Inform your doctor if you have been able to previously have sexual intercourse without pain.] •It feels like …”burning”, “stinging”, “like he’s hitting a wall”, “tightness during/on entry”, etc.
•I have tried to reduce or eliminate the pain by …”using lubricant, changing sexual positions, relaxing more.”
•I am able / unable to …”insert a tampon or complete a gynecological exam.”

3. Mention any past problems:
Have you previously had any sexually transmitted diseases, yeast infections, bladder problems, or any pelvic pain outside of penetration?

4. State what you think the problem is: “I think it may be vaginismus. My symptoms are similar to those outlined in an article I read. However, I have read there are other things that can cause pain during sex and would like to have them ruled out.”

Another idea would be calling a doctor’s office prior to going to see one. In an excellent post, a Maze Forum member suggested this: “One thing I did when I was looking around is calling the office and asking to speak with a nurse. When I got the nurse, I explained my situation and asked if the doctor knew what vaginismus was, and if she’d had any experience with it. It’s hard to talk about, especially to a complete stranger who may just think you’re crazy, but I much preferred doing that to having to make appointment after appointment trying to find a good doctor. I just don’t have the time or the money to bounce from one doctor to the next.”