…the conversation almost always turns to sex!
For the last 6 years or so, that’s been one conversation that I couldn’t exactly partake in – despite having two kids under 4 years old…
I suffer from a condition called Vaginismus. Let me just state here that its not an STD, its not contagious, I don’t smell funny, look ill or eat any differently than you do – I just experience rather painful sex. There are no visible symptoms and therefore diagnosis of vaginismus is rather difficult.
Wikipedia (and numerous other sites) describe vaginismus as the following:
“Vaginismus, sometimes anglicized vaginism is the German name for a condition which affects a woman’s ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration, includingsexual intercourse, insertion of tampons, and the penetration involved in gynecological examinations. This is the result of a conditioned reflex of the pubococcygeus muscle, which is sometimes referred to as the “PC muscle”. The reflex causes the muscles in the vagina to tense suddenly, which makes any kind of vaginal penetration—including sexual intercourse—painful or impossible.”
Due to the nature of the condition, its location and its lack of visible symptoms, diagnosis of vaginismus seldom occurs early on, and most doctors overlook the possibility of vaginismus as the cause of discomfort. An example: The first doctor I went to for ‘The pain I feel when we have sex – I was in a stable, long term relationship, and happy at the time – which feels like a burning/tearing sensation just on the inside of the vaginal opening’, the good doctor suggested we cut into the perineum slightly and thereby enlarging the opening, which should fix the problem. Nevermind the fact that for a couple of years before that, since the start of my sexual activeness, I hadn’t experience any symptoms like these. Even with the guy I was with at the time, our sexlife started out great, and then suddenly one day, there the pain was.
Nevertheless, not knowing any better, I agreed to the operation and my perineum was cut. It wasn’t a particularly painful operation and after the 6 week recovery period, it seemed like there was a slight change in the levels of pain. However, at the 6 month follow up consultation, it was back to the way it was before having had the operation. The good doctor then kindly informed me it was ‘all in my head’…
“A vaginismic woman does not consciously control the spasm. The vaginismic reflex can be compared to the response of the eye shutting when an object comes towards it. The severity of vaginismus and the pain during penetration, including sexual penetration, varies from woman to woman.”
So ‘No, doc, seems it’s NOT all in my head!’ I never went back to that doctor.
Then I plodded along through life, had break ups and started new relationships, yet sex remained painful for me. I started believing I was a freak of nature and/or the people who claim to have constant amazing sex, MUST be lying! No one can have such good sex all the time! And if they can, why can’t I?! And it also crossed my mind that perhaps the good doctor was right and it is all in my head and I’m a sexual looney bin…
The time came to see a gynae again, I found a new doctor and eventually told him of my problem. ‘Aahhh, you suffer from vaginal dryness, and that’s the cause of all your discomfort!’ He gave me a prescription for some thrush cream and a female lubricant that I had to apply internally once a week. I have to admit, that made a bigger difference than the operation had, but medical aid didn’t pay for the lubricant, and it was quite expensive to buy on a monthly basis, so eventually we just stopped buying and using it. The pain returned in full force!
By this time, I had resigned myself to a very meagre sex life (even though I was in my sexual prime!) and that I would HAVE to make a plan to just grin and bear it now and again for TD’s sake! Shame, the poor man can’t be blamed for this, and I can’t deny him this intimacy because of MY sexual hang ups! But I really and truly have to commend TD for his patience and understanding and support and love throught our time together where this is concerned. I’m sure I’ve frustrated him on more than one occassion. And to make up for it, every now and then I’d give in, we’d do the deed – in the dark or from behind, so he couldn’t see the pain on my face – which resulted in us falling pregnant twice and having two gorgeous little boys!
I had resigned myself to this fate, until a couple of months ago. While doing some arb research on Google, I came across a site that actually described my symptoms and experiences in such a way, that I couldve written them all myself! FINALLY, I had a term for what was wrong with me! And I wasn’t the only one! And its more common than you think! AND I wasn’t a nutcase!!
Based on what I’ve read on the topic so far, it would seem I have Stage 2 vaginismus. Its bad, but apparently, it could’ve been worse…
AND, there are possible treatments for this condition!!! BOTOX!! Who woulda thunk it?
“Botox is a relatively new treatment for vaginismus, first described in 1997 . Ghazizadeh and Nikzad reported on the use of botulinum toxin in the treatment of refractory vaginismus in 24 patients. In this study, Dysport (a type of Botox) 150-400 mIU (Ipsen Ltd, United Kingdom) was used. 23 patients were able to have vaginal examinations one week post procedure showing little or no vaginismus. One patient refused vaginal examination and did not attempt coitus. Of the 23 patients, 18 (75%) achieved satisfactory intercourse, 4 (17%) had mild pain and one patient was unable to have intercourse because of her husband’s impotence. A second dose of Dysport was needed on one patient. There were no recurrences during the 2-24 month follow-up period.A controlled study using Botox for one group of patients was compared to saline in another. 8 women treated with the Botox were able to achieve satisfactory intercourse whereas 5 women who were injected with saline controls showed no response. None of the 8 women who had Botox required any further treatment. The procedure is simple, easy, cost-effective, not time-consuming and can be achieved on an outpatient basis. No complications were reported.Pacik reported the use of intravaginal Botox, and progressive dilation under sedation in 20 patients. 12 of these patients were a Lamont level 4 primary vaginismus, the most severe form of vaginismus. He reports a 90%+ success rate of patients achieving intercourse in 2 weeks to 3 months. In this series there were no complications and no recurrences. “
I found a doctor who specialises in Vaginal Rejuvenation, and practices at Linksfield Clinic. He’s been in the field for a good number of years. Even though his website doesn’t specifically state Vaginal Botox, it won’t hurt to ask him about it, or perhaps get a referral to a specialist that can help me.
Unfortunately, he’s out of the country until the 5th of October, so I have to wait until then before I can be sure of anything. Until then, I’ll live in hope – I can be fixed and have a happy sex life!!
Much love x 3
**Please note I am in no way an expert in this field nor am I a medical practitioner. Everything you’ve read here are based on my own research and is my own opinion. If you feel you suffer from vaginismus, please consult your own doctor for a proper diagnosis**