Women's Therapy Center https://www.womentc.com Treatment For Vaginismus, Vulvodynia & Painful Sex Mon, 12 Oct 2020 18:43:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 Vaginismus: is something (not) wrong with my vagina? https://www.womentc.com/blog/vaginismus-is-something-not-wrong-with-my-vagina/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/vaginismus-is-something-not-wrong-with-my-vagina/#respond Mon, 12 Oct 2020 18:43:38 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5303 Despite widespread online visibility in recent years, vaginismus continues to be an elusive condition.  Professionals are still not sure how to diagnose it, treatment is not standardized, misconceptions are abound, and the women who suffer often find themselves left alone in search for solutions. Why is vaginismus so confusing at our times, with advances in […]

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Despite widespread online visibility in recent years, vaginismus continues to be an elusive condition.  Professionals are still not sure how to diagnose it, treatment is not standardized, misconceptions are abound, and the women who suffer often find themselves left alone in search for solutions.

Why is vaginismus so confusing at our times, with advances in medicine and readily available information?

Answer #1: because vaginismus is NOT a disease/pathology/physical anomality but rather a stress response of the sympathetic nervous system, our guardian at time of fear, worry, or danger.  It is a psychosomatic condition, a fusion between medical and mental health that is not yet in the the professional mainstream.

Answer #2: because of the woman’s inability to ‘take a look at the vagina and see if anything is wrong’ because of its location inside the pelvis, unlike the male’s penis that is external and may be looked at anytime.  The only time she can see her vagina would be when a speculum is used, something that is typically done only during a gynecologic examination.  No wonder this invisibility is making the vagina quite mysterious and misunderstood to the point of believing that pain upon penetration – or complete inability to penetrate – must signal a physical problem with potential for further harm.

Answer #3: because the woman with vaginismus will have a difficult time believing that nothing is wrong with her vagina. She will often insist that there must be something physically wrong, especially because the connection between our stress response system and the genitals is still not widely recognized nor accepted.

By the time our vaginismus treatment process gets to demonstrating a gynecologic exam, we make sure to have each patient looks at her own vagina through the open speculum – some will even take a photo of it on their mobile phone – as proof that it is merely a simple canal that connects the outside world to the uterus… Yet a canal that is subjective to reactive clenching, which vaginismus is all about.

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Vaginismus and hymen https://www.womentc.com/blog/vaginismus-and-hymen/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/vaginismus-and-hymen/#respond Tue, 29 Sep 2020 16:14:08 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5292 Can a hymen cause vaginismus? Typically, NO, the presence of a hymen will not cause vaginismus or this condition would have been most common, which is not the case. Furthermore, the majority of vaginismus patients do not have an intact hymen in the first place despite not having had any vaginal penetration. Let’s take this […]

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Can a hymen cause vaginismus?

Typically, NO, the presence of a hymen will not cause vaginismus or this condition would have been most common, which is not the case. Furthermore, the majority of vaginismus patients do not have an intact hymen in the first place despite not having had any vaginal penetration.

Let’s take this opportunity to also correct a common fallacy: a hymen does not grow back!

The hymen is a thin, vascularized membrane, an embryonic remnant of the vaginal separation from the urogenital sinus = the tissue that forms the genitals. The hymen will usually perforate during embryonic development and will vary in thickness, size, and shape from one female to another. The hymen does not regenerate (grow back)!

There are 3 typical variations of hymeneal presence (excluding anomalies):

  1. An imperforate hymen, which means it did not perforate (did not develop an opening within it). An imperforate hymen is uncommon, and is typically diagnosed during onset of menstruation when the blood that cannot ‘come out’ of the body keeps accumulating on the inside. This is a painful and a potentially life-threatening situation that needs immediate medical attention.
  2. An intact hymen, which means that there is leftover hymeneal tissue present, typically between the 4 o’clock and the 8 o’clock, if we use that description. The opening within the hymen can be large enough to accommodate a tampon or a finger, or so small that even the pinky (smallest finger) will not pass through. A partially-intact hymen can be elastic and responsive to stretch (common), or fibrous and rigid (less common).
  3. Minimal or no hymen, even in the absence of vaginal penetration! Despite it being quite common, there is no explanation for it; bike riding or gymnastics are not the cause…

Imperforate and rigid hymens require a hymenectomy, a simple procedure during which the hymen is removed. When it comes to an intact hymen, of our thousands of patients treated, we encountered only 4 women that needed surgical intervention due to hymenal abnormality that restricted vaginal penetration.

An intact elastic hymen will respond to vaginal penetration, may it be a finger, tampon, gyno exam, or intercourse. There may be initial discomfort and/or bleeding, but not necessarily as not all hymens react the same. So, when it comes to intercourse, do not assume that the first-time will be painful or bloody!

Note: the presence of a hymen cannot be established just by looking at the vaginal opening. Clinicians who attempt a gynecologic exam inationon a woman with vaginismus will often interpret her tight (and anxious!) vaginal opening as an intact hymen and offer a hymenectomy as a solution… Remember: a digital (finger) exam is necessary to arrive at a definitive conclusion!

The presence of a hymen does not cause vaginismus. It may restrict or limit vaginal access, but the woman will typically be cool about her vagina and able to face vaginal management without distress.

So when may the presence of a hymen be associated with vaginismus? When there is an underlying stress/anxiety condition, either conscious or subconscious:

  • Anticipating pain upon first-time penetration (but maybe it won’t really hurt?)
  • Is anxious about ‘breaking’ the hymen (maybe there is no hymen?)
  • Cannot handle physical discomfort (maybe there will be none?)
  • Cannot handle the site of blood (maybe it won’t bleed?)
  • Stressed about an unknown; what will it be like to have something inside my vagina?
  • Forced into having intercourse/losing her virginity

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On a humorous note, check the following quote from a book by the name of Sex Revelations and The New Eugenics, published in 1936 by two physicians, Whitehead and Hertel:  “Regarding the hymen… It sometimes grows again in widows, or in women who have been a long time separated from their husbands…”

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Dilators and Lidocaine for treatment of vaginismus https://www.womentc.com/blog/dilators-and-lidocaine-for-treatment-of-vaginismus/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/dilators-and-lidocaine-for-treatment-of-vaginismus/#respond Wed, 09 Sep 2020 15:05:03 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5264 Vaginal dilators have been a vital component of vaginismus treatment. They may be used as a home kit for self-treatment, or by a clinician attending to the condition. When trying to self-treat with dilators, success is variable: some will be successful, some will continue to struggle, and some won’t be able to use even the […]

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Vaginal dilators have been a vital component of vaginismus treatment. They may be used as a home kit for self-treatment, or by a clinician attending to the condition.

When trying to self-treat with dilators, success is variable: some will be successful, some will continue to struggle, and some won’t be able to use even the smallest in the set as they are just too scared to insert anything into their vagina, or are terrified of the pain they anticipate. This is when you need to weigh the options of self-treatment vs. seeking professional help.

On another note, a common suggestion that is given for the penetrative ‘pain’ is to apply Lidocaine, a numbing preparation, to the tip of the dilator so as to neutralize the adverse sensation upon insertion. Often, women are also instructed to use this anesthetic when transitioning to vaginal intercourse, or even for ongoing intercourse.

A numbing cream sounds like a good, easy solution, right? Unfortunately, we do not believe so because it does not address the underlying stress response, which is THE source/cause of the vaginismus. And, there is a risk of becoming dependent on it, which does not lend to a normal use of the healthy – albeit nervous – vagina.

Choose your options wisely. There is no reason to live with vaginismus.

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Penis vs Bacterial Vaginosis https://www.womentc.com/blog/penis-vs-bacterial-vaginosis/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/penis-vs-bacterial-vaginosis/#respond Tue, 04 Aug 2020 18:24:41 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5244 Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that is often recurring time and again, despite treatment, which is a cause of frustration to both the woman and her clinician. A recent article, The Microbiome Composition of a Man’s Penis Predicts Incident Bacterial Vaginosis in His Female Sex Partner With High Accuracy may open a […]

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Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that is often recurring time and again, despite treatment, which is a cause of frustration to both the woman and her clinician.

A recent article, The Microbiome Composition of a Man’s Penis Predicts Incident Bacterial Vaginosis in His Female Sex Partner With High Accuracy may open a much-needed door to better diagnosis and intervention.

To quote their conclusion: “Baseline penile microbiota accurately predicted BV incidence in women who did not have BV at baseline, with more than half of incident infections observed at 6- to 12- months after penile microbiome assessment. These results suggest interventions to manipulate the penile microbiome may reduce BV incidence in sex partners, and that potential treatment (antibiotic or live biotherapeutic) will need to be effective in reducing or altering bacteria at both the glans/coronal sulcus and urethral sites (as represented by the meatus). The temporal association clarifies that concordance of penile microbiome with the vaginal microbiome of sex partners is not merely reflecting the vaginal microbiome, but can contribute to it.”

If you are one of those who suffers of recurrent BV, try using a condom for now, until further treatment is available.

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Vaginismus treatment – misconceptions https://www.womentc.com/blog/vaginismus-treatment-misconceptions/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/vaginismus-treatment-misconceptions/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 16:34:27 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5238 Vaginismus continues to be an elusive condition that is often misdiagnosed and poorly managed due to limited understanding and resources by the medical community. Women, and partners, have embraced the Internet as it offers them a venue to research resources for vaginismus treatment without disclosing their own suffering in fear of shame or embarrassment. However, […]

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Vaginismus continues to be an elusive condition that is often misdiagnosed and poorly managed due to limited understanding and resources by the medical community.

Women, and partners, have embraced the Internet as it offers them a venue to research resources for vaginismus treatment without disclosing their own suffering in fear of shame or embarrassment.

However, like any other researched topic, one needs to decipher truth from false for accurate and reliable decision making. With vaginismus being an anxiety-based condition, and with posts that are rich with personal struggles, that may be a tall order.

Common misconceptions about vaginismus treatment include:

  • It will be painful
  • It will take many months to cure
  • It is impossible to predict how many treatment sessions are needed
  • You have to get aroused for it to work
  • Kegel exercises are a must
  • Need to keep the dilator in the vagina for (so many) minutes
  • Need to wiggle the dilator when inserted
  • Need to use a mirror for penetration
  • Need to look at my vaginal insertion
  • Need to get partner’s finger involved
  • Need to do relaxation breathing for penetration to happen
  • The dilator should go in slowly
  • Helps to image a pretty place while doing penetration/s
  • It is about sex
  • Doing sports/swimming/exercising is not advisable
  • Must walk slowly, always
  • Do not ever cross your legs
  • Taking a hot bath before/after treatment is helpful
  • Stop (dilation/treatment) if uncomfortable
  • You must have a hymen
  • Masturbation is important
  • Child pose (yoga) is helpful
  • The muscles need to be pulled back
  • Do dilation standing up
  • There is no cure… You have to learn to live with vaginismus…

The list is long and goes on. The confusion is deep. The damage to the woman’s body & mind is injurious and devastating. This is wrong!

Fact: vaginal use is a natural activity of the body; there is no reason to medicalize it. Vaginismus is not a broken vagina but rather a healthy vagina that is in-panic.

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We must stay strong. Positive. Optimistic. https://www.womentc.com/blog/we-must-stay-strong-positive-optimistic/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/we-must-stay-strong-positive-optimistic/#respond Thu, 07 May 2020 17:20:23 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5211 Yes, it sure seems like a very long time although, in reality, it has ‘only’ been several weeks since our lives got turned upside down. Are you coping alright? Have you taken these challenging times to reevaluate your life? Your goals? Your business? And most importantly, your relationships and health? Are you scared? Skeptical? Worried […]

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Yes, it sure seems like a very long time although, in reality, it has ‘only’ been several weeks since our lives got turned upside down.

Are you coping alright?

Have you taken these challenging times to reevaluate your life? Your goals? Your business? And most importantly, your relationships and health?

Are you scared? Skeptical? Worried about the future? After all, this novel virus is such an invisible, unknown enemy…

We must stay strong. Positive. Optimistic.

We must adhere to the basics that have proven right time and again: facemask, hand washing/sanitizing, and social distancing.

Medicine will understand this COVID-19 virus and will develop solutions: mainstream testing, vaccine, treatment, etc. But it will take time.

Staying patient is a must, albeit not an easy posture to assume.

Our office has been closed to in-person treatment since late March. For now, we offer telehealth services when applicable, but – as you know – it is impossible to touch the vagina virtually… We wish we could. Imagine the possibilities.

Also during this shut down period, we have been developing a protocol for the eventual reopening, and have been stocking up on PPE – a household term by now – that will be worn by our staff in protection of us, and you.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us. We continue to be available for support, guidance, and new inquiries.

Stay safe. Be smart. Act responsibly.

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Coronavirus – finding an opportunity https://www.womentc.com/blog/coronavirus-finding-an-opportunity/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/coronavirus-finding-an-opportunity/#respond Wed, 08 Apr 2020 00:21:28 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5200 Hi everyone, Hoping this message finds you socially-distanced, and healthy.   We surely live in a historic, surreal time like none of us has experienced before.  This invisible, still-mostly-unknown enemy is unsettling, and  provoking deep and destructive forces such as being frightened, threatened, vulnerable, out-of-control, isolated, stuck, insecure, and hopeless, to name a few.  Life got interrupted on […]

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Hi everyone,

Hoping this message finds you socially-distanced, and healthy.  

We surely live in a historic, surreal time like none of us has experienced before.  This invisible, still-mostly-unknown enemy is unsettling, and  provoking deep and destructive forces such as being frightened, threatened, vulnerable, out-of-control, isolated, stuck, insecure, and hopeless, to name a few. 

Life got interrupted on all levels.  Our sense of comfort disappeared.  Business and financial security are challenged.  Family relationships are completely altered.  Patience and tolerance are being tested to the max.  First responders are exhausted and scared.  We hear more and more of those who got sick, and the unfortunates who died. Safety is now defined as existence within one’s own walls, at best…  The list goes on.

But if we step out of the frame for a moment and take a look in, the Coronavirus placed us all in an intersection, handed us the option to go one way, or another.  

We can either submit to despair, to feeling victimized, get depressed, struggle to find a purpose, feel doomed, angry… 

Or, we can find an opportunity even if the road is pointing upward:

  • Recognize that a change is not necessarily bad;
  • Befriend the unknown;
  • You still own yourself – take a good inventory of your strengths, weaknesses, mistakes that need correction, set realistic goals, etc.;
  • Assess what is important in your life & to your life, and delete the rest;
  • Re-evaluate relationships, connect, reconnect, discard the toxic;
  • Examine your intimate relationship during this testing times – how is your communication? Are you working together or against each other? Have you developed necessary tools to deal with this crisis? Are you taking turns minding the (bored, annoying) kids? Have you lost sight of respect for each other? How are you managing differences now that you live so together-all-the-time? Are you still one strong team and watching each other’s back? Is there any sign of uncalled for anger, or abuse?
  • Sexual intimacy is safe with your in-house (= social distance unit) partner. remain connected! 
  • Mind your physical health for it nourishes your emotional & mental health as well;
  • Don’t be pressured by others or by the media – embrace who you are and stand strong;
  • Enrich your soul: hobbies, old and new.  Expand your horizons. Find a new interest;
  • Develop a fiscal plan to endure the storm;
  • Got plans interrupted, including medical intervention? Take a deep breath, exhale, breath again, be patient;
  • Do get dressed daily, groom yourself, make sure you like who you see in the mirror– it is all about the quality of YOUR life.

So, is it the easy slide down to the black hole, or is it turning on the boosters and walking up the hill?  

You have a choice for self-betterment, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We know which way we turn.  Hoping you will join us.  We will lend you a helping hand, if needed. 

Chag Pesach Same’ach! Happy Easter! Ramadan Kareem!

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We are here for you during this COVID-19 pandemic https://www.womentc.com/blog/we-are-here-for-you-during-this-covid-19-pandemic/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/we-are-here-for-you-during-this-covid-19-pandemic/#respond Sun, 22 Mar 2020 23:07:21 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5195 Hello everyone, We wanted to check in and see how you are doing during these trying times.   It is no secret that COVID-19 has thrusted us into uncertain and unsettling times; more so for anyone with an underlying anxiety condition. At Women’s Therapy Center, we are committed to supporting you in any virtual way possible […]

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Hello everyone,

We wanted to check in and see how you are doing during these trying times.  

It is no secret that COVID-19 has thrusted us into uncertain and unsettling times; more so for anyone with an underlying anxiety condition.

At Women’s Therapy Center, we are committed to supporting you in any virtual way possible so do not hesitate to reach out.  We are checking email regularly, and can set up other means, as needed.

We firmly believe that with time, social distancing, and remaining positive – this too shall pass and we will all live to tell about it.

In the meantime, workout to keep your body/mind/spirits in tip-top shape, and utilize this quarantine time to take personal inventory of your life, your family, your relationship, your social circle, your closets, your vagina, etc…  

We are all in it together!

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Vaginismus – a Psychosomatic Condition, Treatment and Cure. https://www.womentc.com/blog/vaginismus-a-psychosomatic-condition-treatment-and-cure/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/vaginismus-a-psychosomatic-condition-treatment-and-cure/#respond Tue, 11 Feb 2020 21:11:11 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=5114 Here are a couple of updates from this past week: One of our patient, Stephanie, has become an advocate for vaginismus. She was recently featured in an article in DailyMail.com online magazine titled, Christian Woman who Waited Until Marriage to Have Sex is Devastated to Discover She Suffers From Vaginismus, a Condition That Leaves her […]

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Here are a couple of updates from this past week:

  1. One of our patient, Stephanie, has become an advocate for vaginismus. She was recently featured in an article in DailyMail.com online magazine titled, Christian Woman who Waited Until Marriage to Have Sex is Devastated to Discover She Suffers From Vaginismus, a Condition That Leaves her in AGONY Every Time She Has Sex. If you prefer, a pdf version of this article can be found here.
  2. We just recorded and uploaded a new video, What is Vaginismus? This 6-minute video describes the psychosomatic nature of this condition.

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Painful Sex – 8 Couples Explain What it’s Like When Sex is Painful for One Person https://www.womentc.com/blog/painful-sex-8-couples-explain-what-its-like-when-sex-is-painful-for-one-person/ https://www.womentc.com/blog/painful-sex-8-couples-explain-what-its-like-when-sex-is-painful-for-one-person/#respond Tue, 30 Jul 2019 20:04:33 +0000 https://www.womentc.com/?p=4789 This online article was posted July 26, 2019 on HelloGiggles.com and includes interviews of us, and contributions by former patients of ours. Thank you, Megan, Wyatt, Marilena, Frank, Charlene and Logan for opening a window to your intimate world. We know your stories will help others. Much appreciated! A pdf copy of the article can […]

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This online article was posted July 26, 2019 on HelloGiggles.com and includes interviews of us, and contributions by former patients of ours.

Thank you, Megan, Wyatt, Marilena, Frank, Charlene and Logan for opening a window to your intimate world. We know your stories will help others. Much appreciated!

A pdf copy of the article can be found here.

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