For ten years, I suffered in silence with vaginismus. Early on, I could not put a name to my problem, but I knew that something was very wrong. I could never use tampons despite trying many times. Sex was out of the question- it did not come up a lot because I didn’t have many relationships, but anytime I did have any sort of encounters with men, I was in terrible pain, even during manual contact. Going to the gynecologist was also a complete nightmare. Each time I went for an exam, the doctor would try to insert the speculum, which of course she couldn’t. She would then ask the nurse to get a pediatric speculum- this was extremely embarrassing. Hadn’t she figured out by now that I could not endure a regular exam? Some exams were more successful than others, but no matter what, I was always in severe pain- I felt like someone was ripping me apart. I put myself through this hell because I knew I needed to go for my health, but every appointment ended in tears and frustration, with me apologizing to the doctor for being a difficult patient. She new I had vaginismus but never verbalized it to me. I had discovered the term when doing one of my many internet searches. During one visit, she gave me a box of dilators to take home. I tried to use them but of course failed. I was terrified – how was I supposed to use these? I couldn’t even insert anything the size of pencil much less whatever was in that box. So I gave them back, and I continued to suffer for many years.
I remained her patient for all of these years because I did not want to go through having to subject myself to more exams from new doctors and go through more humiliation. I carried this burden around with me every day, feeling like I was abnormal and that no one could ever love me if they knew about my problem. Several years after I realized what was wrong, I told my mom and sister who were supportive but didn’t know quite how to help me. It wasn’t until recently that I shared this with my close friends. I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I was living a lie- like I was being fake, pretending to know what they were talking about when they discussed their sex lives. It deeply bothered me that I did not have the option to even consider having sex when I did get involved with someone. It also bothered me that my friends went to the gynecologist like it was no big deal. How could this be? I just didn’t understand why I was dealing with all of this pain and I didn’t know anyone else that was going through this. I felt extremely isolated and alone.
What bothered me the most is the fact that I woke up every day feeling like less of a woman and less of a human being. I was so disconnected from that part of my body even though I was aware of it twenty four hours a day. For years, I had suffered with dysmenorrhea and had gotten very ill every month during my period. Eventually when I did go to the gynecologist, I was put on birth control pills, which did help this problem to some degree. However, I also suffered from other problems including pelvic pain and urinary frequency, which I later discovered was related to the vaginismus. In addition, I was always very concerned about my hygiene. From when I was very young, I had recurrent yeast infections and always seemed to be dealing with some sort of problem related to this. I showered twice a day, changed my laundry detergent, tried different soaps, only wore cotton underwear…..the list goes on. Despite the fact that tried to take very good care of myself, I was always scared that I was not clean and I was terrified that someone would notice that. I felt disgusting and I hated my body. I felt like it betrayed me and caused me pain even though I was the most careful and health conscious person I knew. In addition, I was raised in a strict environment which also contributed to fears and negative thoughts about sex. All of these issues contributed to my vaginismus and all of this was a recipe for very poor self esteem and self hatred.
It was 8 years ago when I first discovered the Women’s Therapy Center’s website. I was amazed reading all of the testimonials and realized that these women were just like me. I cried while reading through them, thankful that I found a place where someone might understand what I was going through, but scared at the same time. Last year, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. I met with them for a consultation and after that, I was sure that these women would be able to help me. They treated me with more compassion and respect than my doctor ever did during the ten years that I was her patient, and they were absolutely positive that they would be able to cure me. I had given my doctor information from their website many years ago but she never assisted me in pursuing treatment and never provided me with any referrals to other professionals who could help me. During one visit, she suggested that I read a book on creative visualization- generally a good suggestion, but not what I needed to help cure this problem.
When I recently went back to her last year and told her I was going to pursue the two week program, she was not at all supportive. She became very angry and stated that she did not understand why I would choose to pay to seek treatment from people other than medical doctors and that this must be a scam. In the same breath she told me that nothing was wrong with me and then stated that when seeking treatment I would need a whole medical team including a psychiatrist. I told her that I had met with these women in person and that my mother came with me. We both felt very comfortable and confident that I would get the help I needed at Women’s Therapy Center. She told me that I could go ahead with it, but that she was not on board- in fact, she was completely against it.
After hearing her reaction, I was extremely upset and contacted the Women’s Therapy Center. How could I go through with this when my doctor was so incredibly against it? They received an e-mail from me and despite the fact that they were traveling overseas, they called me to make sure that I was ok. I was completely floored. More than ever, this confirmed to me that these women were committed to helping me. I went ahead with the two week out of town program and it was a complete success. They not only cured me of vaginismus, but also helped me to deal with some of my other concerns. They gave me great advice and outlined a whole hygiene routine for me, which improved my ability to take great care of myself. My confidence has skyrocketed since then!
Today, I no longer suffer from vaginismus and I feel like a new woman. How amazing that they were able to end ten years of unnecessary suffering in such a short time. After completing the program, I went back to my doctor one last time. It was the first time that I was able to have a quick and pain free gynecological exam, which was such a victory for me. I could tell that my doctor was very surprised, but did not want to show it. She dismissed me and refused to discuss the success of my treatment. She did not acknowledge the difference in me physically or emotionally. Needless to say, I will no longer be her patient and I am currently working on finding another doctor.
The physical changes are a given but the biggest differences are my self esteem and attitude. I am now able to use tampons – how amazing! It is also an incredible feeling to know that I have options in my future relationships. I will be able to make the choice whether or not I want to have sex- before my body decided for me. At 28 years old, this is a wonderful option to have. I cannot adequately express my thanks to these two women. Drs. Katz and Tabisel gave me my life back. Once you have gone through this experience, you will never take for granted how amazing your body is and how wonderful it is to have the freedom to do all of the things a woman should be able to do. I could never repay this gift that they have given me, but I thank them a million times over. These women truly helped to make me whole again, and that is priceless*.
* Results may vary from person to person