What It’s Like To Have (And Get Over) Vaginismus

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    Hi all. A treated patient of Maze Women’s Sexual Health shared her amazing story of overcoming vaginismus with Self Magazine. This is an awesome story that I encourage you to read.


    “When and how were you finally diagnosed?
    After realizing I had vaginismus, I didn’t seek out treatment for a few years. I thought there was a chance it might go away on its own, which of course it didn’t. I found a physical therapist who had written a review for [a] dilator set on vaginismus.com. Her office was near me and I felt she must be knowledgeable about the condition if she was familiar with the treatment kit. [Ed. note: Vaginal dilators in graduating sizes are often used in the treatment of vaginismus to encourage the muscles to relax and allow for penetration.]
    Unfortunately, I was misdiagnosed. She believed I had localized provoked vulvodynia, a much less treatable condition. I was terrified. She told me I needed to see a specialist to prescribe me a topical cream, so I went to Maze Women’s Sexual Health in Manhattan where I had my first appointment with Tara Ford, a physician assistant specializing in female sexual medicine. Upon her examination, she determined that in fact, I only had vaginismus, not localized provoked vulvodynia. I was so happy, after thinking my treatment process was going to be long and painstaking. I knew since vaginismus is so treatable this wouldn’t be the case. While treatment for vaginismus is by no means easy, it is certainly doable.

    Has dilator treatment been successful for you?
    I actually have completed my treatment as of last week. I was very lucky that my condition was not as severe as other cases. I was able to start with the medium-sized dilator, so I only had to conquer three sizes beyond that. It took about a month and a half.
    Dilating is definitely not fun, but at Maze they made the process as easy as possible. With each size up, they would insert the dilator (while having me do breathing techniques to relax) and then have me insert it myself so that once I had to use them at home I knew that I could do it because I’d already done it in the office. That was super helpful. They also have a therapist there to talk with you about the whole process, which is extremely helpful as well because of how the condition affects you psychologically.
    When dilating at home, I tried to make myself as relaxed as possible. I always needed to play nice music while I did it. Dilation is done for ten minutes every day. It sounded like a long time at first, but after a while it started going by pretty fast. Now that I am done with treatment, I still have to use the medium-plus dilator about three times a week, but it’s just for maintenance. It’s much less stringent.

    What has it been like for you to talk about vaginismus? Why was it important for you to share your story?
    With doctors, it’s not so bad. They are in the medical field, so they’ve heard lots of crazy things. Boyfriends made me the most nervous. I feel like it takes a high level of maturity to be accepting and understanding of this condition, and I’ve encountered my fair share of immature guys. It can definitely scare them away easily. I’ve encountered both guys that were understanding and guys who were incapable of tolerating it.
    The only family member I’ve talked to about my condition is my mom, and she was shocked. She’d never heard anything like it before. I got the same reaction from friends. They were surprised, but curious, and I’m happy to tell anyone more information about it. I want to spread awareness until this condition is normalized. That way, when someone has it or encounters it, they’ll know what it is. It won’t be this freaky disease-sounding thing.
    I think any condition related to the vagina is heavily stigmatized because women’s sexuality is heavily oppressed. Women are less likely to speak up about a condition like this and get help because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. If this condition was more publicized, I think it would make people more open to talking about it and feel less like there is something horribly wrong with them.
    Vaginismus is a condition that is actually so much more common than people think. That’s something I want people to know, because since so many women suppress this condition or try to brush it off, as I did, that just makes them less likely to get it treated. Vaginismus can be treated and it has been an empowering experience for me to conquer this condition.

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