Vaginismus is newly defined in the latest edition of the 2013 DSM 5 (formerly known as the DSM V) as a “Genito-Pelvic Pain Disorder/ Penetration Disorder” which attempts to bring together the concepts and full spectrum of painful vaginal penetration. Although it has a formal definition, countless patients of mine tell me and even post on the Forum that the word vaginismus is unrecognized and physicians, providers, and the general public have never heard of it. This is unacceptable in the year 2015!
I encourage each and every patient to reach out to other patients to help support them both before and after treatment of vaginismus. For every woman going through the process of treatment, there continues to be fear and sometimes overwhelming anxiety. “What if it doesn’t work” is a common refrain, or “What if I am the one person where the procedure fails”. By speaking to others, one derives a great deal of comfort as well as education. When we are confused, someone else’s thoughts or experiences help give definition to what we are feeling.
Beyond patient-to-patient contact, I encourage my patients to post on forums, to send me articles for posting on our VaginismusMD website and to contact magazines, TV shows and radio. Since vaginismus is largely unknown, the media carries very little information, and vaginismus is not yet mainstream. As long as this condition is unknown, women will continue to suffer in silence. As so often happens, once something becomes more well-known, others are more comfortable in stepping forward. One of my patients told her story to Cosmopolitan. This was published in their November, 2011 issue under the title “I Botoxed my Vagina”. Though written in typical Cosmo style, it still imparts an important message.
As recent as 2014, patients of mine continue to discover the term vaginismus and the Botox treatment program from either reading the Cosmo article themselves or through family members who have read it.
One Forum member writes:
“Hi, I wanted to introduce myself since I recently had the procedure done. I have been struggling with vaginismus for about 9 years (that I know of), and I’m so thankful I found Dr. Pacik! I’m currently a 27 year old 4th year medical student, and I find it troubling that, as a soon to be physician, I had barely heard of vaginismus as a medical condition. I think the work Dr. Pacik and all of you on this forum are doing is amazing. Before I came across these posts and started reading, I felt completely alone. From a young age I knew something was wrong when I couldn’t wear tampons, but I thought it was just me. In recent years, after beginning a serious relationship, my relationship began to suffer severely, and I knew there had to be something more. I felt broken, abnormal, and like I couldn’t do something that normal people are supposed to do. It became frustrating for both me and my boyfriend. I went from doctor to doctor and no one could tell me what was wrong. No one could come up with a treatment that would actually help. I tried dilators, physical therapy, psychotherapy, gabapentin, lidocaine jelly…I felt completely stuck. I felt like I would never be able to get married or have children… Then my mother came across an article in Cosmo magazine about Botox and I started googling..”
New Advocacy Ideas in 2015
Recently, our Forum moderator, Heather, asked for fresh advocacy ideas in 2015. She writes:
“Does anyone have any fresh thoughts on magazines, like Cosmo, in which we can submit articles and/or how to go about doing this in order to get published? Even if it touches just one person in 2015, it will be so worth it!!!”
“First for Women, Family Circle, Prevention, Fitness (they claim their mission statement is to assist women in mind, body and spirit), Good Housekeeping & Health.
Thoughts: get the writers guidelines for 3-4 magazines that may accept your article. Send a query to the publisher (a letter) stating your article idea, how long you intend it to be, whether you will interview anyone, if there will be photos etc and then wait for them to reply and see what they say. Once they reply (you can wait awhile), you will see what they like or don’t about your idea and then you can send another query to several magazines refining your idea, etc and work out the details if your idea gets accepted.”
I, again, encourage my patients to post on forums, to send me articles for posting on our VaginismusMD website and to contact magazines, TV shows and radio. Since vaginismus is largely unknown, the media carries very little information, and vaginismus is not yet mainstream. As long as this condition is unknown, women will continue to suffer in silence which, again, is unacceptable in 2015!!!
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