This 21 year old struggled with painful sex for five years despite treatments other than Botox for vaginismus such as working with dilators for one year, psychotherapy and sex counselling for two years and anti-anxiety medication for 14 weeks. She was noted to have maximum spasm at the vaginal entry when examined and finger penetration was almost impossible. I asked her to write her story about painful sex and the many vaginismus treatments that failed. She came up with the title “Vaginismus treatment. Putting vaginismus to bed“. This patient is also known as Cherryblossom123 on our VaginismusMD Forum.
Vaginismus Treatment. Putting Vaginismus to Bed
Hello everyone! :)
I had my Botox treatment for vaginismus procedure on 2 June 2014, and I would love to share my story. I know there are so many on here, but if mine helps even one person who is living with this, I will be over the moon! This is my first time pouring my heart out, and I hope you enjoy reading it!
From quite a young age (approx 15), I became aware that I was ‘different’. It started, as it often does, with a tampon! I could not insert one – I went through countless packets trying, and would cry after every failed attempt. My boyfriend could not even penetrate me with a finger, so sex was off the table. I desperately tried to allow him in, but would end up in tears due to the pain. I went through various relationships since then (I am 22).
Whether I was single or involved with someone, I had a constant feeling that there was a huge gap in my life. I felt abnormal – like a ‘freak’. I felt that my body hated me and would always work against me. I felt that God did not like me, and that I did not deserve to experience such special things as sex and childbirth. I felt that this was simply my burden to bear – some people get cancer, some get into accidents, some are born into disadvantaged backgrounds, some people can’t see or hear – my burden was that I could never have sex or have children. I learned to block it out, and in some way accept that I could never be a mother or an intimate partner. It is difficult to describe these feelings so matter of factly, because I don’t think I can ever put into words the pain, self-hatred, loneliness, depression, anxiety and deep, deep sadness I felt over the years at such a young and vulnerable age. I felt I was all alone in the world, and I did not really serve a purpose. I was heartbroken and confused.
Anyone that I did talk to about it either did not understand, or said it would ‘pass’ as I got older. A doctor tried to show me where my vagina was located exactly, but ended up hurting me. Psychotherapists tried to teach me to let go and take control of my body through talk therapy. I ordered dilators – I tried almost everything you can think of, and it was ultimately a waste of time and money. However, the one thing I did gain from this process was the things I learned about myself during psychotherapy. I talked through how hard it was to grow up in a household where my mum seemed to hate my dad, and where I never witnessed as much as a hug or kind word exchanged between them. I learned that my boyfriends had been controlling and a very negative influence on my self-esteem and self-confidence. I learned that experiencing things such as my mum battling cancer, my brother battling depression and my parents separation all contributed to the self-blame I had been turning inwards on myself for years. But most of all, I learned that I was stronger and wiser than I had ever imagined, and that my life was worth living.
I think it is important to add that Ireland is not so forward-thinking and open-minded as other countries, such as America. We are getting there, but we certainly are not there yet! My school provided no sex education – we were simply told to abstain. When my mum was my age, any kind of sexual pleasure was considered a sin – you were not to touch yourself, look at your body, praise or give yourself compliments, have sex before marriage, and you were not supposed to enjoy it either! Obviously, this was an oppressive and very unhealthy attitude, and it took a while to loosen its grip on Irish women. Now, although we are vastly more open about sex, the former kind of thinking is still not completely over. It still lingers on in subtle ways. For instance, when I began to touch myself at a young age (and enjoy it), I was disgusted with myself – very ashamed. I actually wrote in my diary : “New Year’s Resolution – Stop touching myself.” I found that diary recently and I was in total shock – what an awful attitude I had to sex! I thought it was scandalous – something scary, dirty and also, painful! I certainly could never imagine myself as a sexual being. I was so, so wrong!
I’ve always said that the one thing I 100% believe in is karma – everything comes full circle, either in this life or the next. In early 2014, my boyfriend had decided to leave to go and work in abroad. This man had been manipulative, nasty, disloyal, controlling, a bully, and physically abusive. I was beaten up badly twice and often threatened. I was terrified of him but yet I was absolutely mad about him – I can see now that I had a fear of being alone and was not strong enough to leave. Thankfully, he made the decision to leave. I can now honestly say that this was the best thing that could have happened to me, and I am so grateful he walked out of my life. It was at this point that something changed inside me – I wasn’t going to ever go back to him again. I was going to love and respect myself, sex or no sex, no matter what. The night before he was due to leave, I googled vaginismus treatment as I had done 1000 times before – and there was Dr. Pacik! I read the site, and could not believe what I was reading. The next morning, I thought I had dreamt it – that is not an exaggeration, I literally thought I had dreamt it.
I am very lucky to have an amazing, supportive mother, who took out loans with me to finance the treatment. She held my hand the whole way through, and ultimately changed my life. I owe everything to her. I also spoke to one of Dr. Pacik’s former patients (also from Ireland) which was a huge comfort prior to treatment. I would be more than happy to go through my experience of the treatment step by step with anyone reading this, but basically I am going to condense it; Dr. Pacik and his team are absolutely incredible. The level of care, support, patience, understanding and competence is absolutely amazing. It was like a dream come true. The procedure was virtually painless (just a little needle!). It was surreal, emotional, and empowering – the first day of the rest of my life! In fact, I am in the process of designing a little tattoo to symbolise the day :) I wish I could express how wonderful Dr. Pacik and the team are – in my opinion they should all be named saints!!! :)
Every cent, every plane ride, car journey and bus was worth it – there is no doubt that this is the vaginismus CURE. This is what you are looking for – do not look any further for a solution to your vaginismus. Prior to treatment, literally nothing had ever been inside me. In fact, if I didn’t have a period, I would barely believe I even had a vagina. Now, I am dilating regularly and successfully. It is surreal and so amazing to have control over my body. I feel complete and truly happy. I had successful intercourse on Sunday – my 22nd birthday!!! :) I was walking on clouds for the day. I am no longer going to hate or fear my body – I will love, cherish and protect it, just like it should be cared for! The thought that I will one day (fingers crossed) have babies makes my heart literally swell with happiness and gratitude – and I owe it all to this outstanding team of people at 57 Bay Street!
The one thing that I would like to point out to women that will be having the procedure in the future is that although it is a life-changing, fantastic, invaluable experience, sometimes you may have inklings of self-doubt. For the first 2 weeks after treatment, a little voice in my head was saying; “Do you deserve this?” “Is this too good to be true?” “Will you be the one person who regresses and go back to square one?”. All I can say is do NOT listen to these thoughts! It is natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain – it is a huge physical and psychological change you are experiencing. I remember telling my mum that I felt like I had been given the cure to a long-term illness – it was an unreal feeling. The ‘why me?’ feeling. But then I realised – that is exactly what had happened! I was cured! And why wouldn’t I deserve it, had I not suffered long enough?! You ARE worth it, you are 100% worth it. Your body is your own, and no one can ever take that from you. Stay strong and positive, and remember to love yourself through every step of the way.
Sometimes I hear myself talking, and also on reading through what I have written, and this thought crosses my mind; I sound so old and wise and serious for a fun-loving, single 22 year old girl! If any of my friends knew the full extent to how low I have felt and the dark places i have gone to, I doubt they would believe me for a second. But that is the nature of vaginismus; suffering in silence. This condition stunted my growth as a woman and a person for so long, that I really want to shout my story from the rooftops to all of you. Each story is so unique and filled with emotion, and I wanted to translate that, rather than the ins and outs of the condition itself (which I am sure you are all familiar with). I have come so far from the sad, scared and helpless 15 year old girl that I was. I feel like my life has truly transformed and I have blossomed as an individual. I would love to help anyone who would like to chat about anything at all regarding this condition.
Sending so much love and hope your way girls. Remember, you are not broken. You are not at fault. You are not a freak. You are beautiful and strong and lovable. it is YOUR life, and you are so, so worth it!
Note from Dr. Pacik
This is a very powerful story about what it is to suffer through the many years of vaginismus treatment looking for vaginismus cure. Painful sex, painful intercourse, unable to have intercourse are all part of the emotional turmoil that women with vaginismus are tormented with.