Maze Success Story: Botox Treatment for Vaginismus for Out-of-Town Patient

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    Hi all. Our Forum is so full of amazing success stories of women who overcame vaginismus with Dr. Pacik’s Botox treatment program. I loved writing my own success story and have absolutely loved reading all of yours. I also think it can be very inspiring to read these real-life success stories and can encourage those reading this right now that there is a treatment for vaginismus and you, too, can overcome. Stories inspire so much hope and it also helps to personalize and familiarize us with the people and practice. I wanted to share with you an excellent story from an out-of-town patient who received the Botox treatment program at Maze Women’s Sexual Health.

    L, age 24, writes:

    “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.”

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