Never had sex
October 10, 2019 at 9:30 am #26070
I am 45 years old, and I have never had sex. That is my truth. It was not until a month ago that I realized that I might have vaginismus, perhaps triggered by painful pap smears. I am not sure. Let me briefly share my story with you in the hopes that you can relate to me.
In my very early 20s, I was told that I had to schedule a visit for my first pap smear. To describe the procedure, my mom, my grandma, and friends used words like “uncomfortable”, “painful”, “super painful”, “extremely painful”, “awkward”, “super uncomfortable”…you name it. I appreciated their honesty, but it left me quite apprehensive to say the least. You can imagine how ‘happy’ I was to schedule that first appointment. But I did. I was a graduate student at Cornell University at the time, and the ob/gyn was very experienced at dealing with newbies like me. She met with me a week before our first appointment and gave me a pamphlet on Kegel exercises, which I practiced as she told me to do. The first pap smear was okay, the second one was not that okay. I remember leaving the second appointment a bit shaky.
When I left Cornell University, I moved to Houston for a new job. I was working at the Texas medical center. That is when the nightmare began. Now I realize that it was lack of communication on both parts. The ob/gyn would be *very* fast at inserting the speculum thinking that I wanted to be done as quickly as possible. Looking back, I realize that this was a mistake on her part. There was no talk about using the smaller speculum (I had no idea that there were at least two sizes), no breathing exercises or words to calm me down. The more I had them, the worse it got. I would get anxiety about a week before my appointment. I would have difficulty sleeping a week before that appointment. I never canceled a single appointment though. When I mentioned to the ob/gyn that I found the procedure very painful, she assured me that that was the case for women who had not had children. I was very happy when the whole procedure ended. I felt like it was New Years Day, and I did not have to worry about it until the next year.
In the midst of all this, I had failed relationships. Men left when they realized that I was like a brick wall down there. I was heartbroken, but I did not know what to do about it. I figured that these men were wrong for me (and they were). I did not talk about it. I did not ask about it. The phobia created by the pap smears, the pain generated by the pap smears had deeply affected me. I felt lost. I felt ashamed. I felt that there was something wrong with me. It is not with pride that I write that I am a 45-year old woman who had not had sex. I took refuge in my career, family, friends, and pet.
It was not until a month ago that I heard about vaginismus, and I read stories of brave women like you. I am glad to read that I am not alone. I bought vaginal dilators from Amazon.com, and I have started using them. It is a set of five, and I am in the dilator No. 2 (I began three days ago). That is my goal for the remainder of the year. To stretch my muscles and train my brain! Yooo hooo! 🙂
Anyway, I just wanted to share my story with you.
PlalozOctober 10, 2019 at 1:44 pm #26072Cathleen Kneidl, RPA-CParticipant
Hello and welcome to the forum.
Thank you for posting your journey. Vaginismus is complicated, most of the time we just aren’t sure what causes it. And a lot of providers do not know how to handle it. Dilation is the treatment. Keep working with those dilators and keep us posted on your progress. We are here to help!
CathleenOctober 13, 2019 at 6:03 pm #26102
Plaloz, welcome to the forums and thanks so much for sharing your story. I know how hard pap smears can be, and how much worse they’re made by feeling alienated by a doctor who’s supposed to be helping you. I had vaginismus for almost 10 years and I know the feelings that accompany it.
It’s really inspiring to see that you are seeking help for yourself and already making progress! If you ever start to doubt yourself or feel alone in your journey, I hope you’ll start looking around these forums and remind yourself how many other women have succeeded in conquering this. It is a terrible thing to endure but it doesn’t have to be the end of your story. Good luck and let us know how you’re doing!October 14, 2019 at 12:59 pm #26103
Thank you for your words and warm welcome. 🙂
It is greatly appreciated. I have noticed that you have posted in another forums, and I wanted to ask you…How are *you* doing in your own journey?
Update – out of five dilators, I am through with size 3. As of today, I have yet to reach sizes 4 and 5. With every successful dilator attempt, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
PlalozOctober 14, 2019 at 4:16 pm #26121
Thank you, Cathleen, for the warm welcome.
PlalozOctober 15, 2019 at 12:14 am #26122
Plaloz – congrats on moving up in the dilators, and I’m so glad you are feeling the sense of accomplishment you deserve to feel! It really is a process and each stage will bring you closer to the goals you want to accomplish.
That’s so sweet of you to ask about my journey! It’s been a little over three years now since I first had the botox treatment and achieved intercourse, and I can honestly say that unless you knew I’d had vaginismus before, you’d never be able to tell. I’m able to have sex without any pain and enjoy it a lot, and the fear of penetration that used to cripple my sexual life is gone. It’s such a relief to be free of that feeling in most contexts, though I still struggle occasionally with various aspects. Using tampons is still challenging for me and it took me more than a year after I was able to have intercourse to even attempt one because I had so much nervousness around them. I got a gyno exam done while I was under anesthesia during my botox procedure so I haven’t had a pap smear since my procedure, and I know that will be challenging when it happens, but I have built up a lot of strength over the past few years and I feel confident I’ll be able to handle it. Even now vaginismus is a process and a presence in my life, but more than anything it reminds me of how strong I was able to be and what my body could overcome when it tried.October 15, 2019 at 1:53 pm #26150
Kudos to you, recessivegenequeen. I am curious to know, have you ever tried the vaginal dilators? I watched a YouTube video last weekend (I can share with you if you would like). Basically, the lady in the video was showcasing the dilators that her company produces. She stated that for pap smears, women only need to work through the smallest set (1 through 3).
Thank you for sharing your story, by the way. I have been reading posts from other ladies in the forums. I am so glad that this forum exists so I can meet brave women like you. 🙂
PlalozOctober 17, 2019 at 10:32 pm #26188
Hi plaloz – yes, I worked with dilators after getting the botox procedure at Maze! They’ve definitely done loads to get me comfortable with penetration and size of object is definitely something I’m less concerned about than I used to be, though I think the medical context of a pap smear is a major cause of anxiety. I’m better at trusting myself now than I used to be, so I think that will help me next time I’m in need of an exam!November 15, 2019 at 4:55 pm #26388Leslie Turner, WHNP, CNMModerator
So glad that you’re reaching out for support. Women such as recessivegenequeen who bravely share their stories give hope to women who are moving through the dilation journey. Congratulation on your progress and please keep us posted!December 31, 2019 at 1:04 pm #26511Jackie Giannelli, FNP-BCModerator
Just checking in with you to see how its going with the dilation? Dilation certainly has its ups and downs, we are here anytime to provide, tips/tricks and support as you move through the process. Were you able to move on to the next size dilator? I’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the Botox procedure.
Happy New Year!
JackieMay 1, 2020 at 6:25 am #28476Sks823Participant
I really related to your story, and I am so so happy and impressed that you were able to use the dilators on your own! I also overcame my vaginismus through the use of dilators (although I needed the help of Maze Women’s Health – they helped me insert the dilators and showed me how to use them through several appointments until I “graduated” with the largest one).
So happy you realized you have vaginismus, bought dilators, are able to use them (it can be a slow journey but you WILL get through all of them), and reached out and told your story here. Keep us posted!
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