Vaginismus and seeking psychiatric help

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  • #9068
    jessbee
    Participant

    Hello fellow V friends,

    I am back on the forum after taking a break and thinking about actually taking the next step to book my procedure. I am now ready to take the next step to get this done. I am also making an appointment to see a psychiatrist soon to address anxiety issues (which I think are the root of my vaginismus). I feel that the procedure will not be entirely successful if I do not attack these psychological issues head on with the help of a psychiatrist and some anti anxiety medication. I had been medicated for anxiety from the age of 19 until about the age of 28. From the age of 29-32 I was doing well and was able to really control my anxiety on my own without medication.

    This year, because of so many major life changes, my anxiety has returned and is affecting my way of life. I attribute a huge part of my vaginismus to my anxiety. This problem is constantly weighing me down, and I feel like its not just anxiety anymore but I feel as if I am falling into a sad, depressive state. I feel like a failure because I can’t give my husband a child that he so desperately wants (as do I). I can’t fully show and express the love that a wife has for her husband, and it makes me angry, sad, frustrated, and so many other emotions all at once. I just ask why me? It is a constant drain on me, and sometimes I just feel its too much to take. I want to run and hide and just hope I wake up from this bad dream. I am blessed to have the support and love that my husband gives me. He is very patient and loving. He doesn’t get upset over the situation. He is always very reassuring letting me know that we will get through this together. He just prays for things to get better and asks me to have faith. I wish I had the patience and faith that he does because right now I feel as if there is no way out of this. He is not the problem. I am the problem. I feel like I need to take care of me,but I need the psychiatric help.

    Now my question to all my V friends is: How many of you are also seeking psychological help before/after getting your procedure done? Has it helped? Do you think it would make a difference?

    #12250
    mmHeather34
    Moderator

    Hi jessbee. I’m so sorry for what you are going through right now and send you the biggest hug this morning. I think it’s so wonderful that you are ready to take the next step and book your procedure as well as see a psychiatrist to address anxiety and all of us are here to support you. Please know that you are not alone in any of the feelings that you have right now. Please also know that there IS a way out of this and I truly know and believe in my heart that you will overcome and we all will be with you along this journey. You are not alone, again, in any of this. I stress that so much because the condition of vaginismus often goes hand in hand with secrecy which makes one feel alone. While having it for so many years (all of my 20s, and the beginning part of my 30s), I kept it all to myself and only my husband and I and the few doctors we saw knew about it. Because of this, I felt at times like I was the only person in the world who had it. I never want anyone to feel these same feelings but to now know that you are among 465 other women who have either had it or have it and we are all here to help each other through. I sought help from an amazing therapist, Myra Durkin, both prior to and post procedure and cannot describe in writing how much she has helped me. She also does counseling via Skype as well. I, too, have issues with anxiety and addressing this and working through it rather than ignoring it and hoping/pretending it wasn’t there (like I had done for so long) was key pre-procedure as well as post-procedure. Pre-procedure, I was able to openly talk about my fear of failure with the dilators, which was always my biggest worry, as well as so many other worries. By having this support and perhaps, someone who believed in me a lot more than I believed in myself at the time, it helped me tremendously. In addition to being able to talk openly, the therapist that I saw is also licensed in hypnosis so we did several sessions involving hypnosis and relaxation techniques that also really, really helped both pre and post-procedure. Following my procedure, it also was great to, again, receive tremendous support and continue to talk openly about any worries/concerns/feelings that came with making love to my hubby for the first time after we had both struggled with the emotions that surround vaginismus for 11+ years and our entire relationship. This level of support was incredibly helpful and aided in our success more than I can describe. Hope this helps. Sending hugs to you.

    #12251
    Dr. Pacik
    Participant

    Thanks jessbee for your important post.

    Vaginismus is both psychological and physical. Both need to be treated. Anxiety appears to be present in at least 50% of my patients either as a base problem or in association with the fear of penetration. Depression is also noted in quite a number of these women. There is a great deal that needs to be overcome with vaginismus. Everything from anxiety to feeling like a freak, less than, worried about the relationship, fear of failure, fear of penetration, suicidal ideation and the list goes on and on.

    Understanding that you need emotional healing before undertaking vaginismus treatment is a breakthrough for you since you were able to recognize the need for this. Continued counseling post procedure is also very worthwhile as Heather describes after her treatment. It would be of great value for others to comment on how their emotions were very much a part of vaginismus, what if anything was done to overcome this challenge and what others are doing to develop emotional well being after treatment.

    #12252
    jessbee
    Participant

    Thank you Heather and Dr. Pacik …those are very encouraging words. You can never hear the words ” you are not alone” enough when you are facing this problem day to day. I have an appointment scheduled for Saturday morning with a female psychiatrist. I hope I can get the help I need so I can proceed to the next step in getting this procedure done in 2014. I am glad to hear of the positive effects that therapy has had on you, Heather. You are my motivation to follow through on this. Thank you again 🙂

    #12255
    janemurphy
    Participant

    Hi Jessbee,

    I struggled for years treating vaginismus. For me it was imperative that I treated my emotional/psych issues as well as my physical symptoms of vaginismus. I saw a few therapists while in treatment for vaginismus. And I have to tell you – you are NOT alone. So many women suffer in silence with this condition. I’m glad you are talking to Dr. Pacik about treatment options. He is a amazing and a genuine expert in vaginismus. I observed his work last week and have nothing but positive things to say about him and his team.

    Also I documented my story treating vaginismus on my website http://www.MyVaginismusStory.com. I receive emails every week from women around the world telling me they thought they were the only ons suffering from vaginismus.

    wishing you all the best,

    Jane

    #12259
    mmHeather34
    Moderator

    Hi Jess. Please know that we are all here to support you 100%. How did your appointment go on Saturday? Sending positive thoughts and hugs your way!!!

    #12277
    jessbee
    Participant

    My appointment went well on Saturday. I am back on antidepressants (which i had been on for years to treat anxiety). Those have started to help a bit to control my feelings of helplessness and depression. I was also able to talk to a therapist yesterday and will be starting to see her every other week to address my issues with vaginismus and its underlying causes. Thank you for asking! Thank you Jane and Heather for your kind words 🙂

    #12278
    mmHeather34
    Moderator

    This sounds very, very good Jess and I am so very proud of you for taking these steps. Sending you huge hugs from Boston!!! :):):)

    #12299
    dr.anitahoffer
    Participant

    Dear Jessbee (and others!),

    I just had to chime in. This is my first post to the V-forum. (I hope the formatting works.)

    My name is Dr. Anita Hoffer. I am a sexologist and sex coach. I have two doctorates: one in Reproductive Biology and the other in Human Sexuality and Sex Education.

    I work with women of all ages and their sexual concerns. One of the most common sexual concerns I deal with is “dyspareunia” which is just a fancy medical word for “sexual intercourse hurts” or “sex feels like it is impossible”.

    A common cause of dyspareunia is vaginismus. The shame and anxiety that goes with this experience is HUGE and can alter the the quality of a woman’s life as well as the life of the couple. Very often, women struggling with this condition are happily married to loving partners who are very understanding…….and in a way, this can add to the difficulty because the women feel guilty and, in addition to everything else, they worry that they are letting their partners down. Often they are so ashamed that they keep their problem a secret and therefore feel they can not ask for help. It is really tragic.

    A couple can experience sexual concerns as well as relationship concerns………and the common assumption is that if you fix the relationship problem, the sex will take care of itself. But this is simply not true as many of you know because your relationship is good but the sex is not equally good…or may even be impossible right now. And moreover, sometimes, even after the physical obstacle to sexual intercourse is removed, relationship and self-esteem problems that arose while you were struggling persist.

    But in fact this is not surprising! Both types of problems need to be addressed. It stands to reason that after years of struggling with vaginismus, the shame and isolation and anxiety that have built up over time take their toll. Sometimes it may take longer than expected to really and truly enjoy sex after the procedure. And you and your partner may be (understandably) impatient for results now that the long period of being unable to experience penetration has come to an end. This is a perfectly natural response but unfortunately the road to a sexually fulfilling relationship does not always occur in a snap once the dilators are easily inserted. This is what Dr. Pacik refers to as the disconnect between physical success (dilators) and needing to catch up emotionally (enjoying the sexual experience now that this is possible).

    That is why I want to say a hearty congratulations to Jessbee and others among you who, recognizing all this, are seeking the advice of therapists and counselors who are familiar with these issues. You are not alone. It can make a huge difference to the success of the journey that you have undertaken with Dr. Pacik’s help.

    I have worked with vaginismus patients in person and also on Skype…..and I am familiar with Dr. Pacik’s work and procedure. If I can be helpful to any of you, I would be happy to do so. Please feel free to contact me at aphoffer@earthlink.net and we can set up a time to talk.

    Sending you all warm wishes for a very happy holiday season and beyond,
    Anita Hoffer

    #12309
    mmHeather34
    Moderator

    Hi Dr. Hoffer. Welcome to the Forum and thank you for your post. What you describe in your post so adequately fits Dr. Pacik’s statement “you have to catch up emotionally to where you are physically” post-procedure. Just like Dr. Pacik, it is so wonderful to see other doctors and clinicians that actually understand all about both the physical and psychological components of vaginismus and everything that one goes through both while having it and immediately thereafter. Thank you again for your great post!!!

    #12331
    jessbee
    Participant

    Dr. Hoffer,

    Thank you so much for the post. The psychotherapist that I am seeing specializes in sex and marriage. I am currently seeing her alone but later on, we hope to include my husband in the sessions. I have only had two sessions and will have a 3rd this coming monday but we are really uncovering so many things from my childhood (the way i was raised, etc) that are the root of my anxiety and vaginismus. I am slowly understanding where this is all coming from, and it makes the situation alot less stressful.

    #12347
    mmHeather34
    Moderator

    Hi Jess. It is so, so wonderful to hear that therapy is going well for you. I can’t stress how much it helped me both pre and post-procedure. Pre-procedure, by talking to a non-judgmental and incredibly supportive person about so many of the things that I had solely kept to myself helped me immensely and, like you mentioned, made the situation a thousand times less stressful. I’m just so happy that it is going well for you and want you to know that I’m here for you always!!!

    #12351
    jessbee
    Participant

    thank you, friend! a big hug to you 🙂

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