February 3, 2019 at 3:39 pm #24280EmdeejayParticipant
I’ve now been formally diagnosed with vaginismus for around 3 months. I started dilating straight away and was able to move through the dilators sizes relatively quickly. At my first (awful) gyno appointment, a follow up appointment was made for a month later, and I was dreading it, after the first appointment I broke down afterwards and cried for a solid 2 days. But I was determined to make SOME progress before the next appointment. Which I did… I moved to up to the middle sized dilator (4.5inches) and was soon able to insert when standing up in the shower. My anxiety around dilating massively decreased too, and I was able to push through any pain rather than jerk away from it. I was able to use a small tampon over Christmas, which was a massive step for me (although I struggled with discomfort with a larger size). Some non- dilating progress has been that I have now told 3 close friends about my vaginismus, and they have been supportive. Being able to speak about it openly without crying is also a huge step. I went to my second gyno appointment with a sense of determined dread. I wanted it over and done with. I prepared mentally for an exam by the same (horrible) gyno as before. But I was instead seen by the female consultant, who didn’t wish to examine me. She asked about the dilating, and if I had managed to move up some sizes, and after a brief chat, discharged me as a “success”. It was such an anti climax. I don’t feel like a success yet. I feel like I have a long way to go. I’m conflicted because on the one hand I feel almost cut off by the gyno clinic, but on the other, I am happy not to have to go back there. Unfortunately, since then my progress has slowed. A bout of cystitis and then a family crisis made dilating less than a priority. But today I have started again. I am stuck on the 4.5 inch dilator but I hope to move up soon. I also have an appointment with a “gynocological physiotherapist” (if anyone knows what that entails please let me know!) on advice from my GP, that’s coming up in the next week. I thought writing my progress down here would help; for something that has affected me so deeply in recent months, it was so easy to let the dilating fall by the wayside, and I can’t let that happen, I’ve come so far now. What I haven’t worked out yet is what caused my vaginismus in the first place. I have no trauma to draw from or really any insight into what made me “close up”. I think about that a lot.
For now I’m going to focus on regular dilating again and hopefully progress will continue to be made.
Again, reading other stories here are so helpful to me.
Sorry for the rambling post, if you read to the end, thank you!
EmFebruary 8, 2019 at 2:45 pm #24320Leslie Turner, WHNP, CNMParticipant
It’s so great that you are receiving support from friends and coming here for encouragement. Dilating can be a challenging experience in many ways and it’s so important to get support as you progress through your healing journey.
It’s very, very common for women to take little breaks from dilation. Life happens. The good news is while it does sometimes take a bit of time to get back to dilating as you were before the break, you never go back to where you were before.
Continue with dilating and reaching out for support. And that’s great to hear that you’ll be seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Keep us posted!February 10, 2019 at 11:33 pm #24328recessivegenequeenParticipant
Hi Em! Congrats on your huge progress – and take it from a former sufferer, it’s huge how much you’ve accomplished on your own! I totally get what you mean about the sense of anticlimax around the gyno calling you a “success” when you probably still feel you have a long way to go, but I suspect on her part this was more a comment on the psychological resolve you’ve shown in confronting the problem directly and sticking with it.
The reality is that vaginismus treatment is a LONG road without a clear finish line. I’m 2 years out from my botox treatment and successful achievement of intercourse and there are STILL things I’m learning about my body. It’s only in the past few months that I’ve been able to use a tampon; psychologically something was holding me back from doing it before. Even now I’m not fully comfortable with being fingered. Our relationships to our bodies are complicated and never finalized. Success will look like what YOU decide it looks like, which depends on what your priorities are. That’s also why celebrating your accomplishments along the way is important; making progress is important and the goals you eventually reach will be the result of all the tiny steps you took every single day.
Lastly, the one thing I would advise that WON’T help your progress is dwelling on the “why” of vaginismus. This is for each person to decide for themselves, but I spent years reflecting on this question and came away with the conclusion that for most of us there probably isn’t any why. There are a few factors that could have contributed in my case: I grew up in a home where sex was discouraged and I’ve always had an anxious disposition. There’s a real temptation to find a root cause, a dark moment or decision point like something out of a fairy tale, but sometimes life just gives us things we have to bear. And even if there was a why, it wouldn’t be the thing that fixed your problem. The only way to get better is to turn around and look forward at the path that leads to what you can become, the future you can carry yourself into one step at a time.February 11, 2019 at 1:19 pm #24333EmdeejayParticipant
Thanks so much for your replies, you seem to have so much insight and wisdom about these things. I am coming to the realisation myself that my relationship with my body is complicated and probably always will be. You’re probably right that I should stop focussing on finding a reason why I developed vaginismus and put my efforts into progressing with my recovery.
Some more good news is that my physical therapist appointment was really really positive, and I now have an official treatment plan, and I’m feeling hopeful.
EmFebruary 11, 2019 at 9:00 pm #24338recessivegenequeenParticipant
Emdeejay, thank you for saying that, it means a lot that anything I say or have experienced could help someone else. I’ve had a lot of time to think about these things, but one of the funny side effects of vaginismus is that I think I relate to my body (and am grateful for it) in ways that people who never have to deal with something like this aren’t. Coming to accept the fact that we are always working to love ourselves better helps us to do so.
This is great news about your physical therapist appointment! A treatment plan makes all the difference – you can feel like you have a map instead of fumbling around blind. Please let us know how it goes!February 15, 2019 at 10:38 am #24358Leslie Turner, WHNP, CNMParticipant
So glad to hear that you had a positive physical therapy experience! As recessivegenequeen said, a treatment plan makes all the difference. This is so true, and it is so helpful to have an experienced pelvic physical therapist to guide you through the process and help you with understanding and normalizing the ups and downs that are part of healing vaginismus. I encourage you to celebrate each step you are taking, no matter how small it is. Keep posting about your dilation journey – as you have seen there are wonderful women on this forum who have been where you are who can help with encouragement and inspiration along the way.
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