Calling fellow Brits! NHS advice?

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  • #9021
    casuallydressed
    Participant

    Hi all, I’m new here & looking for some advice.
    I’ve been diagnosed with secondary vaginismus for just over three years & I’m currently going through therapy with our second therapist on the NHS. We (me & my partner who accompanies me to the appointments) were told from day one that our therapist is just covering until our NHS trust finds a permanent member of staff. We made really good progress very quickly and I think we both hoped we would complete our therapists ‘programme’ before she had to leave.
    Unfortunately, although we’ve come a long way, we’re not ‘there’ yet, and tomorrow is her last day.
    We – and our therapist – we’re told during our last appointment, that she had been given the go-ahead to ask her existing patients if they would like to finish out their treatment with her, rather than start again with the newbie. We were delighted to be given the option and accepted.
    Late last week, my therapist called to say that her bosses had rescinded their offer so we would no longer be able to see her and – to make matters worse – her replacement is a man.
    We feel completely despondent and frustrated – completing the programme is within our grasp and it’s taken a long time for us to get to know and trust our therapist. To have to start all over again with a third therapist feels like a huge step backwards and I am reluctant to discuss my vaginismus with a male.
    Does anyone have any experience of approaching their GP to ask them to fund a particular therapist? The only way we can continue to see our current one is if we pay privately and at £50 a session it’s not feasible for us at the moment.
    Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.

    #12137
    mmHeather34
    Moderator

    Hi casuallydressed. Welcome to the Forum and thank you for your post. I am so sorry to hear of your struggles with secondary vaginismus. I am from the US and have been waiting to see if you received a reply from someone living abroad who may know more answers regarding NHS and GP. Regardless, I did a bit of research and found the following:

    Specialist referrals and services your GP may recommend

    You are entitled to ask for a referral for specialist treatment on the NHS. However, whether you will get the referral depends on what your GP feels is clinically necessary in your case.

    If you wish to be referred to a specialist in a particular field, such as a surgeon, or a gynaecologist (a specialist in the female reproductive system), you will need to see a GP at your registered practice. This is because all your medical records are held by your GP who understands your health history and treatments better than anyone. The GP can then decide whether a specialist referral is necessary and, if so, can recommend which hospitals or clinics would be appropriate to visit.

    A specialist will only see you with a letter of referral from your GP. The letter will give the specialist essential background information, such as your medical history, and it will also contain details for the specialist to pay particular attention to.

    If you wish to see a private specialist, you are still advised to get a letter of referral from your GP. However, if you see a private specialist without a GP referral, your GP is not obliged to accept the specialist’s recommendations.

    Ideas for Approaching GP concerning keeping your current therapist for vaginismus treatment

    An idea here could be to write a detailed letter to the GP pertaining to your specific situation. This could assure that all of your feelings as well as the facts of your vaginismus case are disclosed in writing and they have the complete picture. An example of such could include:

    Dear Sir/Madam:
    I am writing in regards to receiving funding for [insert therapists name] who is currently treating me for secondary vaginismus.

    Vaginismus is a condition in which an attempt to insert something into a woman’s vagina causes the muscles surrounding the vagina to tighten, and to clamp shut, making penetration painful or impossible. Vaginismus can affect sexual intercourse as well as gynecological examinations and even the use of tampons. Vaginismus is involuntary, and can be compared to any other reflex action where the body closes up as a reflex, like when the eye blinks if something approaches it. In vaginismus, although the closing of the vagina is involuntary, it is often due to a learned response to pain, that is to say, the woman expects pain, or remembers previous painful experiences, or simply imagines that penetration will be painful, and the vaginismus reflex occurs. Women with vaginismus can get caught in a ‘catch 22’ situation. They subconsciously expect, or fear pain, and the muscles tighten up. If penetration is then attempted, it can be painful simply because the muscles are tight. What happens then is that the pain then subconsciously reinforces the fear, tells the subconscious that it was right to fear the pain, and it can cause an even stronger response the next time.

    I have had secondary vaginismus for over three years. I have been receiving treatment with [insert therapists name] from [insert date] to [insert date]. Over the course of this treatment, I have made significant progress in terms of [insert brief description of progress made]. Furthermore, during this time period, I have developed a strong therapeutic relationship with [insert therapist name] that is based on the foundation of trust. She has significantly contributed to my overall success based on our strong therapeutic relationship and my ability to trust her completely.

    I am asking you to please fund [insert therapists name] through the completion of my programme for the treatment of secondary vaginismus [insert dates if applicable].

    Thank you in advance.

    Sincerely,
    [Insert Name]

    Further thoughts
    I am not sure if this letter will work at all but I hope it helps you in some way. I suffered with primary vaginismus in the past for 11 years before being cured in 2011 with Dr. Pacik’s treatment so I know first-hand the frustration that goes along with the condition. I think the progress that you describe is absolutely wonderful and I truly believe that you will be able to overcome secondary vaginismus. Please know that we are all here to support and encourage you and your partner along this journey. This condition can be so isolating and I found that I felt this way in the past while going through it. I told no one at all about it except my husband and a couple of the doctors that we saw. It wasn’t until meeting Dr. Pacik and his staff that we actually found a doctor who understood anything at all about the condition which we found so frustrating. It was a wonderful relief in a sense to find this practice and someone who “got it” after we had years and years of doctors who didn’t. Please, again, know that we are all here to support you along your journey. Sending hugs!!!

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