Living with Vaginismus is something that people will go to major lengths to not expose. Brave women have come here to share their vunerable story to show others what it is really like. We break down the walls to expose the hard truth of vaginismus but also the triumphs of overcoming it and the beautiful life that lies ahead.
Suffering in silence for 22 years
For 22 years, I suffered in silence. I was deathly afraid of any form of vaginal penetration. I was not able to insert a Q-tip much less a tampon. I trembled at the thought of a gynecology exam and over the years I became extremely depresssed by the reality of never becoming a real women because I couldn't have sex. Sex seemed impossible. I had no idea why this was happening especially since I had a very high libido. I would ask myself questions like "Is someting wrong with my anatomy?""Do I not like men?" "Am I just destined o be a virgin?""Intercourse seems like such a simple concept, what is wrong with me?"
After years of thinking that I was just a freak of nature, I decided to seek out the assistance of a sex therapist. The first one I consulted with was very nice but had no idea how to deal with what I described I was experiencing. She referred me to a kind woman who then referred me to a doctor in another city. That doctor misdiagnosed me with Vulvodynia and said that I needed to seperate my clitoral foreskin in order for me to be aroused. His thought was I then would be able to have intercourse. I agreed to have the procedure but it did not work at all. Frusteration and depression filled me so I found another councelor who listened and was more aware of my condition. She prescribed dilators but I had anxiety and a great fear of penetration so I couldn't use them. Out of helplessness I ended up putting them in a drawer and never went back to see her. Finally out of desperation, I tried hypnosis. My sessions would simply put me to sleep because the therapist was boring and clueless. Feeling completely broken I gave up.
Vaginismus was a term that I had learned about from my boyfriend seven months ago. While at a conference, he decided to go to his room and take a nap between sessions. He was channel surfing before drifting off and happened to wake up to Tyra Banks show. The female guests on the show described exactly what I had. He called me immediately and shouted in excitement, "I think I know what you have! It's Vaginismus!" I immediately Googled and read about the condition. After further research, I learned about Dr. Pacik and his commitment to giving Vaginismus a voice (as most women are too fearful to talk about it) as well as his ground breaking program approach to cure and restoration.
I contacted the Physician's office by email and the next day I recieved a call from one of his fabulous staf members. She gave me an overview of the procedure and told me that I would be contacted further. After completing a survey I was contacted about the results and the best way to move forward. I was sold! I had finally found someone who understood my pain, that didn't make me feel like a freak, and could help me. I scheduled an appointment to receive the procedure, made the flight and hotel arrangements, and then waited for what seemed like the longest six months of my life.
My boyfriend and I flew up to him and as we entered the clinic, I was a ball of nerves. I was so anxious that I couldn't stop crying. My boyfriend and all the staff members were all so reassuring. Although I wasn't able to calm myself down, I felt so supported. After changing into my hospital gown and slippers, I was given a sedative to ease me nerves. There were two other women who were getting the procedure that day as well so I was second in line. When the woman before me came back to the recovery room, I heard her say through the curtain, "The big one is in there?" She seemed fine so that was a relief to me. It was now my turn and I was escorted to the surgical room. I climbed on the table and counting down to darkness.
When I woke up I had the largest dilator in without any pain! Incredible! During the rest of the next couple of days, my boyfriend and Ilearned recieved assistance with the dilation therapy, counseling, practical tips and a mock gynecology exam. The process was extremely educational and powerful.
This brave women was able to use the largest dilator by day 4 and had pain-free intercourse at 2 weeks. To this day she is doing incredibly well.
Shame and Embaressment
I was sexually abused as a child by a friend of my parents. After that I carried a strong belief that I would only have sex with my future husband, as I saw this as a way to protect myself from any future abuse, and make our sexual relationship something that would be safe and special between the two of us, unaffected by outside factors. Prior to marrying my amazing husband to be, I was aware of my aversion to sex, and sought some councelling to help rectify this, yet like so many stories I have read, when it came to our honeymoon, sex was completely impossible. This continued for two years, after many unsuccessful doctor visits, treatments, and counselling. By then, our relationship had suffered greatly and whilst still committed to our marriage, decided we needed a dramatic change.
After living for two years of our marriage with Vaginismus, we were offered teaching jobs in a very remote part of Australia, 300 km from our home town, population 3000, where the closest city was an 11 hour drive away. During the wet season, (6 months of the year) it was only accessable by plane. It had one supermarket, a few resturants and pubs, and seemed like just the change we needed. One week prior to moving I was finally diagnosed with Vaginismus. However, the doctor knew little about treatment, told me to buy some dilators online and sent me on my way with no other information or support. At the time, I was happily distracted by the move, and did not foresee how my vaginismus, the remoteness of our new town and the lack of support we had would nearly destroy us.
After 6 months of being in our new town, I completely loved my job and threw every part of myself into it. It was the only area I didn't feel like a failure in my life, and I began to get promoted and become very recognized in my role. Our home life however, was very much the opposite. After my husband and I having another huge fight over "failing" at sex yet again, I remember typing, Vaginismus, into amazon and came across Dr. Pacik's book. I read it in one evening and emailed him the next day. Long story short, 6 months later, we decided to fly to the US and get the treatment on my upcoming summer break. I was diagnosed with level 5 Vaginismus and the surgery went well. We returned back to Australia hopeful, however due to the severity of my vaginismus and the absolute trauma it had caused, we were still battling greatly. In combination with being so remote, having no family to support us, and the pressure of maintaining a vry stressful job, I was completely burnt out. By now my husband had been diagnosed with severe depression and had been suicidial at times.
We pushed on though, determined to not let it beat us. After 18 months of living remote, and 3 and a half yers of marriage, we were finally able to consummate our marriage, yet due to my husbands severe depression, it was all too much for him, and he was no longer interested in sex and had become too numb, leaving us back at square one again.
After another 6 months of this, we had reached our limit and couldn't take it anymore, so we decided to transfer back to the city to get more support. However, due to our state's government policy of having to complete 3 years teaching with them if you are permanent, we had to apply on compassionate transfer, which was a very long and drawn our process, but it was eventually granted. As an incentive for teachers to teach remotely, the government covers the cost of the move (around $20,000 each way), and I had thought because I taught the minimum 2 years, that it would all be fine. I applied to leave with the government, transferred back to the city last December, and pursued other options for a job, to have a break. After 3 months of living back in the city, I decided to resign front my permanent position with the government saying I owed them $15,000 as part of the cost of our move back, due to my resignation after two years but before three. I was completely devestated. I felt crushed because I had not allowed my vaginismus to detract from my job whilst teaching in a remote area, and felt like they didn't care about how hard it was up there, with tough kids, living remotely and sacrificing so much to be there.
I then was faced with the choice of explaining why I resigned, as there was a clause in not having to repay if I could prove I was medically unfit to remain an employee with the government. I wrote a letter claining it was because of a medical condition, and went into as much detail as I could without actually saying it was Vaginismus. They replied wanting to know what the condition and medical treatment required was. When I received their response I was furious. Why should I have to tell a buch of strangers who didn't appreciate what I had given up and endured to teach remotely, about the most intimate deatils of my life? I was tempted to just pay the $15,000 (all of our savings) instead of having to pay them. A very special friend who was aware of our journey, asked me why I was afraid to reveal the true reason of my resignation and I realised it was because I was terrified that they wouldn't think all I had been through was a good enough reason to not have to pay the money. I aas completely ashamed of having vaginismus, despite knowing in my head it wasn't my fault, and was ticking this off as yet another thing Vaginismus had robbed from me.
After much prayer, I realised I needed to face this head on. It became so much more than just having to pay back the money. It became about whether or not Iwould allow the shame and disgust I felt in having Vaginismus and the pain we'd been through to conquer me. We decided we were going to come clean about our journey and no longer lose something yet again because of vaginismus. As we wrote the letter I went into detail about everything. My past, our troubles living remotely, our depression and complete melt downs and especially about the surgery and my condition. It was the hardest letter I've ever had to write. Upon submission of the letter I felt this strange peace. The next day I received a phone call saying that after review about all we had been through they were going to wave the debt. This never happens! I couldn't believe it.
The biggest lesson I had learned was to not be ashamed about Vaginismus. I knew medically and in my "head" that it wasn't my fault but I couldn't stop feeling this shame. Well not anymore! I hope this encourages you as well not to feel ashamed or broken.
* Vaginismus MD provided us with permission to use the stories of patients who have gone through their program*