Well, first I think I should point out that I never thought I would be here. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I am 38 years old and I’ve had vaginismus my entire life. There are many of you who probably are in the state of feeling as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel, no silver lining. But I want to assure you from someone who found sex uncomfortable to talk about, or found it difficult to watch a sex scene in a movie or felt petrified at the thought of a cotton bud being inserted by a doctor, it can turn itself around. There are three elements in my story: Mind, Body and Sexuality, and probably in that order. For so many years I felt like I had a big ‘V’ on my forehead or that I was less of a woman and had this massive secret.
I was officially diagnosed with vaginismus two and half years ago, and was also frustratingly single. Initially feeling confused when I was told, it all slowly began to make sense, from having a boyfriend of 8 years and having many painful encounters, inevitably making my vaginismus worse. We parted, but it was never about that: sometimes people just aren’t right for each other. Afraid, I went out into the world with my barriers up and only managed to kiss one boy in 12 years. Once it was confirmed what I had, I was determined to be one of those success stories! I did therapy with a specialist for a few months and to even talk about it openly was such a MASSIVE relief. I used to hate saying ‘sex’ or ‘vaginismus’, but I started to affirm ‘I don’t have it, I’m just having a moment.’
I realised I was scared. Scared of sex and more importantly scared of my vagina. I saw my vagina as fragile, inexperienced and maybe it had been shown some bad examples. I had to fall in love with it and my body and I had to make it happy. I’m sure most of you remember Samantha’s line in ‘Sex and the City’: “my vagina’s depressed”. Mine was depressed.
My therapist got me to work on me and my body; meditation, soothing baths/showers, cupping, holding my body. But it was a tough time. I cried tears of joy and frustration as I began dilating. It was one step forward 3 steps back. My vagina was one entity and I was another. Dilation became a chore and I found ways to put it off. I realised this was all wrong so, while dilating, I started to relax my body by doing things such as dropping my tongue, releasing my jaw, dropping my shoulders and working my way down to my toes. What happened was a revelation. I was able to do wonders.
Bu, as progressive as this all was, dilation became one of the most non-sensual things I could do and I had a sexual side waiting to jump out. So I began to mix dilation with pleasure and this was my ‘a-ha’ moment. I was making my vagina happy and so dilation allowed me to go up a size - and so on. I never reached the biggest size, I thought I’d figure that out along the way. Throughout this time I began pushing myself and having very little intimate moments, learning about my body with my partner at the time.
As individuals dealing with vaginismus, I think it’s important that we remember not only to train our vaginas but to work on sexuality, simultaneously. Vaginismus can turn it off, so it needs to be really worked on.
Fast forward a few months later in my story and I finally knew my body; I knew my limits but also knew we were in it together! With my new confidence I was able to push even further, still wary but it led me to do the unthinkable: to have penetrative sex. But not only this but to find pockets of pleasure in my first time. I sometimes still pinch myself or have moments of excitement that I achieved this. I never won in anything in life but I feel like I won this.
Every woman is different, this is just my little story. I hope you can take something from this. I vowed to help as many women as I can by sharing my story. One last thing I would say is, try looking in the mirror and telling yourself: ‘I don’t have vaginismus’. I did this until the thought of it made me so happy, I would say it and smile.