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  • #37893
    mmHelen Leff, LCSW
    Moderator

    Hi Amanda,
    Congratulations on working with a pelvic floor PT, using dilators, and making progress – you have come a long way since your gyn visit. When it comes to transitioning to intercourse here are a few tips: It’s important that you are dilating with a dilator that is a tiny bit larger then your partner’s penis, it’s important that you dilate immediately before intercourse as those muscles will be ready, it’s important to use a generous amount of lube. Also, communicate with your partner if you need him to go slower etc. Sometimes a partner is worried that he will hurt you and he may have a hard time maintaining an erection; if that’s the case he can get a prescription for viagra short term. It can be helpful for a partner to participate in dilation (using one of your smaller dilators) so that he can be familiar with the angle of penetration and for you to have some experience with giving up some control.
    Amanda, I know this is difficult and try and have a sense of humor about it. It may be awkward at first, it may feel mechanical – it will get better. I know that having intercourse is your goal and don’t lose sight of having fun non intercourse sex.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Keep us posted,
    Helen

    #38388
    enogine
    Participant

    Hello, my name is Anna, I’m 18 years old.

    I cannot tell you how relieved I am to find a place to finally talk about this. I was in tears earlier. I have so many things I want to talk about but I feel so ashamed for even thinking about sharing. My family has never been one to talk about sex or anything related, and I was unfortunate enough to learn about it through a book when I was only 10. I felt so ashamed and gross that I had learned it and I’ve never really talked about it with anyone besides my therapist. I hope that I can find some solace here, even if I don’t have vaginismus. However, I do suspect it. I cannot insert tampons without extreme pain, and even if they’re able to get in, it’s extremely painful and taking them out is 100x worse. I’ve tried all that I can think of, and I just don’t know what to do. I am going to college in the fall and I want to be able to shed my fears and shame, as well as be able to have sex normally (I am a virgin) should the opportunity present itself. There is so much more I want to say but I will keep it short here. I would love to know where I can vent my frustrations and learn of any ways I can treat whatever condition I have.

    #38523

    Hi @enogine – we’re so glad you found us, too!

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling, and I also want to honor your commitment to your health. It sounds like information about sex was at once difficult to access and then upsetting when you did because you couldn’t speak with anyone about it to help you normalize your feelings.

    Many women who experience similar messages (or lack thereof) about sex from their families use words similar to yours (ie “shame”). I am here to tell you that you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of – your sexuality is just as important a system as any other in the body. Please know that this is a safe space to ask any questions you’d like. We are a welcoming, non-judgmental and supportive community, and many of our participants and patients here at Maze are women your age.

    Vaginismus is a highly treatable condition as are other pelvic pain issues. We offer a free, 10-minute phone consult – why not give us a call? We can help you with next best steps toward healing.

    Take good care and all best!

    #38758
    SCB_40
    Participant

    Hi everyone!

    First off, I want to say how refreshing it is to know that other women are going through the same thing that I’m experiencing. I really did feel like I was alone, but it’s good to know that I’m not.

    I’m currently 39 and have been going through this for almost 20 years. I have never been diagnosed with vaginismus but based on my research, I know for sure I have it. I have even discussed this with my doctor, but she only mentioned that it’s all psychological. I’m able to insert tampons, can be fingered, and insert a small dildo, but when it comes to actual penetration, I literally become a panicky mess.

    I believe this has all started when I was 18 and I tried to have sex for the first time. It was actually a scary moment for me with my then-boyfriend. The experience was so painful that I never wanted to try again, and when I even attempted to, it just ends in disaster.

    I have been with my fiance for almost 18 years now, and not being able to have sex has been causing issues in our relationship. Although we have engaged in other types of sex, when it comes to penetration, it’s has been a nightmare. Although my body is saying yes to being with him, my mind immediately cuts off any type of intimacy with him. My fiance has been so patient with me, but this has really put a strain on our relationship, and I know eventually he will leave me.

    As for trying to overcome my anxiety, I have purchased a kit last year, which I have tried to use several times, but stopped because either I became frustrated with my results, or just doesn’t have the confidence in doing it. I have tried several times to have sex with my fiance, but half of the time my confidence is so low that we end up arguing about it, and now I’m just frustrated about the entire situation. I keep asking myself why am I going through this? I can be a very sexual person and I want to be able to have that feeling being penetrated, but I feel as if my mind and my body are on two different pages when I need them to be on one.

    I think by talking about this as well as actually continuing with the self exercises will slowly help me get through this, but I know there is more I need to do to actually overcome vaginismus. I know it will take time, but it has been a really big struggle for me.

    #38949
    KitKat4799
    Participant

    Hello, my name’s Catherine, I go by Kit, I’m 21. 🙂 Cannot tell you what a relief it is to find a forum of other women in the same boat – and have a place to talk and vent and receive support.

    Bit about me – I grew up in a household that didn’t really talk about sex – I mean, I had the “talk” or whatever when I was 11, but that was basically it. I got to the point that I felt guilty if I had a crush on a guy, sex was bad (off limits, NOPE, don’t even think about it until you get married and even then, ewwww. and girls having sex drives? unheard of. that was for men. only men are sexual creatures, not women. unthinkable to be sexually aroused.) and I tended to fall into a deep psychological pit of anxiety and spiraling that I don’t think I even realized at the time; I think I buried it pretty deep because honestly, I’ve never really struggled with overt anxiety. I think now it’s catching up to me, though.

    So, at 15, tried using a tampon. Extreme pain and burning, like I’m hitting a wall. I’ve tried again and again, same results, and now just to see a box of tampons makes me sweat. I finally worked up the nerve to have my first gyno apt yesterday, and I had my worse fears concerned – I have vaginismus, and I’m supposed to start pelvic floor therapy this week. To top it off, I’m getting married in 2 months. I’ve been sexually inactive so far, and in the past year I’ve adopted a much healthier view of sex, but it takes awhile to adapt to a healthy mindset. Now that intercourse seems off limits in my marriage, I’m devastated – I don’t know what to do, I feel shame, I feel broken – and more than anything I feel like I’m destined to be a disappointment. All of these feelings of shame keep welling up, and I know that’s a result of past trauma regarding poor sex education. I’m scared of what this journey is going to look like.

    #39130
    mmmazemelissa
    Moderator

    HI Kit!

    Welcome to the forum, I too am so glad you found us.

    Vaginismus is totally treatable!

    It is great that you are already set up to start physical therapy. Hopefully she will help and guide you to work with dilators.

    I don’t want you to have the mindset that intercourse is “off limits” in your marriage, because that is probably not true. It might not happen on your wedding night, but that is Ok, because if you are starting treatment, you will get there.

    There are lots of ways to have sex, and if at first that doesn’t include intercourse, that is fine.

    You are facing this issue head on, and getting the treatment process started to overcome vaginismus, and that is the first step.

    Keep us posted on your journey!

    #39145
    kaitsmith
    Participant

    Hi Everyone,
    My name is Kate and I’ve been struggling with what I think is vaginismus for the past 4 years. I’m 22 years old now and I’ve had this problem since I was 18. Before encountering this problem, I had perfectly normal, enjoyable sex. I encountered this problem while having sex with a yeast infection. The sex was painful and now every time I attempt to have sex, I experience tightness in my vagina and a burning/stinging sensation. I cannot have sex for more than a few minutes a day without feeling excruciating pain. I can achieve full penetration which is enjoyable, but I experience a mild burning/stinging sensation that intensifies over a few minutes. I have visited a gynecologist who ruled out any physical abnormalities (through a vaginal exam and ultrasound) and infections (through a swab). She prescribed an anti-depressant to see if it fixes the problem in case it is nerve-related. This did not help. I have not visited the gynecologist since, but since every other possibility seems to be ruled out, I think I have secondary vaginismus. I recently purchased a set of silicone vaginal dilators to hopefully help me overcome this issue. If anyone has a similar experience and would like to share, that would be amazing. Does anyone know if I can overcome this condition by using vaginal dilators alone? If so, how should I use them and how often? Thank you so much.
    – Kate

    #39176

    Hi @kaitsmith – welcome to our community!

    Sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling. While proper diagnosis is key to successful treatment of any kind of pelvic pain, the experience you’re describing certainly sounds like it could be vaginismus. It is a highly treatable condition, so that’s the good news!

    Dilators come in a variety of materials and widths, every woman’s body is unique, and a dilation protocol is rarely universal. While some women are able to use dilation on their own without guidance, we strongly recommend you seek support in order to establish a program that is customized specifically for you and your needs.

    Anti-anxiety medications can certainly be part of treatment, but there are also behavioral modifications to seriously consider for whole healing.

    If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help, consider calling us to arrange a free 10-minute consult. We offer on-site care for those in the NY metro area and distance dilation programs for those who aren’t nearby.

    Take good care and let us know if you have any other questions!

    #39412
    nigelsmum
    Participant

    Hello everyone. I am 39 years old and have had secondary vaginismus for more than 10 years. I had a perfectly normal, pain free sex life from 18 to about 27. At 27, I had a horrific gyno exam, where I was screaming in pain while my doctor ripped polyps from inside my vagina. From that point on, any time I tried to have sex, I’d freak out thinking of that time at the gyno’s office. I kept trying, but it was futile as it felt like knives stabbing me in the vagina repeatedly and my muscles would just tense up involuntarily not even allowing for much penetration at all. It was around this age that I met my now husband. He’s never known me pre-vaginismus, which makes me so sad. He’s been super patient and he even married me with this condition! He is accepting and he tries to understand what I’m going through but I know it makes him uncomfortable to talk about it. He’s been better with understanding and empathy as the years have gone by, which is helpful. Gosh, I have so much to say about my situation that I don’t know where to start or stop. Anyway, this issue has affected me physically obviously, but more than anything else, it’s affected me mentally very badly. I never had depression a day in my life before vaginismus. Now, I’m at a point where I experience severe depression often. I have had anxiety since childhood, but it’s severe now since this issue. I feel worthless and useless and many times feel as if I’m on “borrowed” time and that my husband will eventually leave if I cannot have sex with him. We have stopped doing anything sexual for the most part, it just all became too frustrating and painful, physically and emotionally for me. Other than this, we have a really wonderful relationship, which I am incredibly grateful for. Lastly, I am having the Botox surgery for vaginismus in a few weeks in March, and I’m so excited to have found something that can help me, after years of physical therapy not really helping much. I just wanted to say hello and tell my story and see if I could find other women who have been through the same things as I have. Also, would love to hear advice/feedback from anyone who’s gone through the Botox procedure? Thanks so much for taking the time to read my story. 🙂

    #39464

    Hi @nigelsmum – welcome to our community! We’re so glad you found us and we thank you for sharing your story.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your struggle with vaginismus. While vaginismus is rarely discussed (though it SHOULD be!), I can promise you that you aren’t alone, and we hear stories like yours all the time.

    I’m relieved to know that your husband has been so patient and supportive, and I also want to acknowledge your concerns. Vaginismus affects many women interpersonally and this can be difficult to navigate.

    Anxiety is almost always correlated with vaginismus, and while I know you’re looking forward to the Botox procedure, I do suggest you seek individual counseling to help you process your feelings and cultivate solid skills to help you cope. Additionally, it sounds like you and your husband could benefit from couples counseling (even if just a few sessions) so that you can continue this processing collectively with an experienced guide holding safe space for you. We provide these services at Maze so please let us know if we can be of help or refer you to providers in your area.

    Wishing you all my best!

    #39494
    nigelsmum
    Participant

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I am currently in therapy and have been for years, including a bit of couples therapy. Oddly enough, we always talked about my issues, but never the root cause of them. I don’t think I actually knew the root cause (vaginismus) or maybe I did, but was in denial. I hate telling anyone I have this condition so I usually just talk about my issues caused by the vaginismus, but not the actual vaginismus. I like my therapist, but I don’t know how helpful he will be in all of this because he’d never even heard of vaginismus until I told him about it. He’s very understanding and empathetic, but I don’t think he truly knows what I have been through and continue to go through. Thank you for telling me about the therapy services at Maze, maybe I will seek out those services after my procedure. 🙂

    #39842
    feedtaleone
    Participant

    I especially loved the part “trust me, after suffering for 22 years, I began operating like I have been having sex for years after 2 weeks.” Congratulations on your success. This is so amazing! Also, this inspires so much confidence. Vaginismus can take a very serious toll on your self-confidence. Receiving treatment and overcoming it can significantly boost your confidence and you really do go from a place of suffering for so many years to being able to confidently have sex.

    #40070
    SophieCantHaveSex
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    It has been a long old time!
    I’m 23 now, and have had painful sex/ tensing of the vagina, since I first started having sex when I was 18.
    I just wanted to give an update on where I a now, following my last post in May 2019 I did buy a small vibrator and used this for maybe a year (with lube) before I went on to using dilators in the summer of last year. After a few months of using the dilators and working up the 4 sizes available to the biggest size, I had sex with someone I’d had sex with before and we had painless sex and have done it again since that time. Even though I still struggle occasionally I have come a very long way. 🙂 I actually write a blog of my progress which you can see here: https://sexualsessions135104910.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/dilators-do-they-though-no-they-dont/

    #40252
    recessivegenequeenrecessivegenequeen
    Participant

    Hi Sophie – thanks so much for updating us on your progress and sharing the link to your story! I know how much it helps the women on this forum to know there are others who have had success at working their way to pain-free sex, so it’s great to hear that dilating worked for you. Your description of using dilators in your blog post is detailed enough that I’m sure it will be a useful reference to others! I also love the humor you use in your post – this stuff can feel very undignified and painful, so I love that you highlight that just like with anything in life, there’s comedy to be found. I hope everything keeps going well for you and I’m so glad your dilation was a success!

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