It is a Journey – Not a Sprint

Blurb ptpDr. Pacik writes: “When three patients are treated the same day, we start with different degrees of severity of the vaginismus and different levels of anxiety. Each then follows along a different course. Some sail through with the large dilators, others struggle. Some achieve early intercourse others take longer. This is all emphasized during the counseling sessions so no one feels left behind. It is the final victory of overcoming lifelong vaginismus that counts. This is an important area for treated patients to post so others can understand the varied progress women make after treatment. It is all part of the big picture of the community supporting one another, so that here too, no one feels like a “freak” and no one ever feels the torment of feeling isolated.”

Heather, our VaginismusMD moderator writes:

I’ve written about this in the past and I think it’s very important to realize that everyone’s progress is truly unique to them – It is a Journey – Not a Sprint!

In a prior post, a Forum member wrote:

“I do feel down at times when I see other women progressing along and having intercourse.”

BlurbHeather replied: “One of Dr. P’s treated patients shared her tremendous success story and also wrote ‘I had my moments of worry, doubt and self-blame – but just remember that your progress is unique to you and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to follow a timeline.’ I think this statement is so, so important. It is often so easy to compare ourselves to others and I really think that it’s so important to be self-aware when you find yourself doing this and to then remind yourself of just how much you have accomplished thus far and, again, how your progress with all the steps (i.e. dilating, transitioning to intercourse, becoming pregnant, etc.) truly is unique to you.”

In addition to tIf there is one thing that I learned about vaginismus is that it is truly a journey - it is not a sprinthis thread, a second Forum member wrote:

If there is one thing that I’ve learned about this is that it is truly a journey – it is not a sprint. It is also important to celebrate the small victories/accomplishments that you make and remember that we all travel this journey at our own pace.”

Furthermore, there is a support and valuable advice in a third thread:

Blurb ptPatient 1: “It is now over 6 months post-procedure and I haven’t managed to transition to intercourse yet. I would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has taken some time to progress and transition following the procedure. Most days, I am motivated to continue in the hope that this will lead to us having a normal sex life but occasionally I get a little despondent!”

Blurb ptReply 1: “Hi Katie, I have recently been reading a lot on positive thinking and meditation as we all have “stuff” we are dealing with in our personal lives. One of the things that might help is to spend 10 or 15 uninterrupted minutes a day doing nothing such as meditating or staring at some natural motion like flowing water. This daily period of mindful silence may provide a sanctuary for you that can be peaceful where you can then meditate on the positive side of dilating and transitioning to intercourse. It is my firm belief that you need to visualize success in order to overcome this. This mindful silence may give you that opportunity. Just a thought and may be worth trying. Sending positive energy your way.”

Blurb ptReply 2: When I had my surgery, I was with another girl who is my age and I watched her progress so well those few days…. but I was having major pain and kept digressing with the dilators. Even now, I cry thinking about how terrible I felt and that this was it. I kept trying to use the dilators for a few weeks, but it just kept getting worse physically and I was drowning emotionally. After two weeks, I stopped trying to use the dilators, feeling like it just wasn’t any use. My partner and I tried everything we could think of the next few months… to no avail. I felt like trying so hard started to push us apart – push me away and make me feel like an object. Nothing was working and we finally gave up trying. About 5 or 6 months later, and 11 months after the operation, we were enjoying our sex life better and not pushing so hard to try to get to intercourse that we became that much more comfortable. It took a lot of comfortability and creativity but it was fun.

Last May (11 months post-operation), my partner started trying to penetrate with his finger. I thought it would be weird to ask him to try that but he liked it for some reason …. I guess guys just like touching no matter how they do it.. ? :-) Anyway, he didn’t get in at all the first several times and then not that far in for quite a while after that, but I tried to be very communicative about what I was feeling and what I was okay with and he became really good at responding and learning when to back off. So eventually, my body became more relaxed with his finger around my vagina. When his finger did finally start to get inside it did really hurt, but I just kept remembering the dilators and how it only hurts for that first little while and then it just slips right in. It took a lot of playtime to finally get his finger all the way inside of me, but we just kept playing and practicing. After several weeks, he finally got in all the way and did it a few times the next few days. After a while, the pleasure was more pronounced than any discomfort I felt. Then we started trying intercourse. That was kind of the same process that it took several weeks and it really did hurt at first but that I just kept thinking about the part where the dilators just slip in. After a while, we finally achieved intercourse! – over a year after the operation.

Again, the first little while, it hurt and some days were (and are) better than others. One thing – one of the most important things – that I’ve learned through this is that you really have to balance the physical and the emotional. When we had the most success is when we were both feeling good and comfortable with the sex life we had, even though intercourse was impossible. Just be creative. When you both feel good emotionally about each other, you will be able to relax better – something that is crucial! My partner and I often said (and still sometimes say) to each other is “No expectations”. Focus on enjoying each other for what you have and in time, the rest will follow when you are comfortable trying. Don’t lose sight of the love you share. That’s why you have sex – to fully express and share in that love that goes so much deeper than sex or intercourse.”

Blurb ptReply 3: “It took me about seven months to be able to have intercourse. Don’t give up, you have came a long way! Just keep practicing what you know and the confidence to go to the next step will come. Try to celebrate the tiny accomplishments and don’t feel bad. Even though I could start to have intercourse seven months after the procedure, it really took a couple years to get good at it and for it to be truly pleasurable. ;) it takes time for some of us and that is okay. You can’t rush yourself and only you know your body. I would write down your progress or how you are doing so you can look back and be like wow, I am really further along then I thought! I have made good progress! :) I hope this encourages you.”

Blurb ptReply 4: “It took me eight months to have intercourse after the surgery. It took me this long because first of all because i was still scared and a lot of it was that i didn’t have the time to dedicate to the dilators. So what i did was one weekend when i was completely alone and nobody was in the house to bother me I started off with the smallest dilator and left it in for about an hour slid it in and out until i felt comfortable and then moved up to the next one and did the same and so on and so forth until i got to the biggest dilator. With this one I would leave it in for at least an hour or so and i would make sure i would use lubricants on all of them it helps out a lot. I did this from the time i woke up until about 11 pm every night. It sounds a bit obsessive but i was determined to do this. Then for a about a week i would use only the big dilator in the evenings for about an hour and half practicing. This does take time but you have to make the time out of the day to do this no matter what. Then after about a week my husband and i tried and it didn’t work because for me it took time for the dilator to go in and that is not the case with a penis cause it can only stay erect for awhile. So what my husband suggested was to take viagra so the next night we tried with that and it worked and we never had to use it again. It does feel uncomfortable and u may feel a bit of a burning sensation but you will get used to it and it does get better. This may be too much information but i would have liked someone to give me some step by step advice like this, so i hope this helps. And good luck to you if u stay motivated and determined it will happen.”

Finally, Dr. Pacik has also commented on the fact that this Is a Journey – Not a Sprint!!!! Specifically, he wrote the following reply to a couple who is 5 months post-procedure:

If there is one thing that I learned about vaginismus is that it is truly a journey - it is not a sprint“In my book both of you are heroes and champions. You with your unfailing support and coffee with the amazing progress she has made. Overcoming twelve years of severe vaginismus is no easy task, and though the recovery seems to be taking “forever” it is a relatively short period of time given all the circumstances. The key is holding your course and not giving up. In celebrating each small victory as they come along and giving yourselves the time that is needed for healing. The progress that “coffee” made is sure to empower many others who also struggle getting over this condition.”

The VaginismusMD Forum is a place where women with vaginismus introduce themselves, share their Vaginismus MD Forumstories, are able to ask questions and are able to discuss all aspects of vaginismus and their treatment program. It is a place where women get to know each other and are able to give each other the support they need to succeed in overcoming their condition. It is a place where women talk about their fears, hopes, pain, joy and triumphs as other women share with them and celebrate the victories great and small. The Vaginismus forum is a place where women with vaginismus no longer feel alone. But most of all, the VaginismusMD Forum is a place where reading about the success of other women give them hope, motivation and determination.

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About Dr. Pacik

Peter Pacik, MD, FACS is a recognized pioneer in treating patients with Botox for vaginismus and the author of When Sex Seems Impossible: Stories of Vaginismus and How You Can Achieve Intimacy. He has been in practice for over thirty years and belongs to a small group of prestigious surgeons who are double board certified by both the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In 2010, Dr. Pacik received FDA approval to continue his study to treat vaginismus using intravaginal injections of Botox together with progressive dilation under anesthesia.
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