Vaginismus: Updated

Painfull intercourse, pain with sexual activity, and pain that prevents sex or makes sex difficult.
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MapleSyrup
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Vaginismus: Updated

Postby MapleSyrup » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:26 pm

I think this forum needs a vaginismus "sticky" thread. But anyway....

I FINALLY got in to see a gynecologist after 2.5 years of sexual difficulty/pain. The doctor diagnosed me with vaginismus and suggested the use of dilators. Now, they aren't cheap ($60) but if they will "cure" me, I think DH and I will be willing to make the investment.

My questions to those of you who have dealt with this and overcame it are:
1) How long did it take you to be "cured"?
2) Did you remain "cured" or did you ever relapse and have to re-do the treatment?
3) Did you abstain from penetrative sex during your treatment? If so, how did you keep your dh happy during that time? (I heard it can take up to 6 weeks to be effective)
4) In your opinion, are the dilators worth it? Or is there another option?

Thanks!
Maple
Last edited by MapleSyrup on Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Shivani

Postby Shivani » Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:02 pm

I was wondering about that diagnosis.
I haven't dealt with this myself, but from what I have read, it has a high success rate with treatment. It sounded like in Celebration of Sex that it involves not just the slow rebuilding of physical abilities to tolerate penetration but the retraining to not mentally/emotionally equate sex with pain. So the slow going, 20-40 minutes of intimate connection, readiness and foreplay is important, as well as trustbuilding between husband and wife.
I just read those few pages in that book again, and I thought it was interesting that the author noted that some women can connect vaginismus with past trauma, but not all - some had no history of any kind of past painful issue.
So glad you have a name and an idea of a plan! And at least I bumped your thread up a little for the posters who have been there/had the victory over that. =)

lovemyhusband07

Postby lovemyhusband07 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:44 pm

I was diagnosed with vaginismus about a year ago. My doctor recommended doing simple exercises rather than the dilators. He told me or DH to place one finger in the vagina and apply pressure on the bottom wall for 5 second intervals and to do this once a day. Slowly we could increase the number of fingers until intercourse was possible without pain.

Another option if you are open to it is to use a vibrator around the vaginal opening to relax the muscles while you try to insert dilators or fingers (whichever method you choose). I had never used a vibrator before, but we found that it really helped me to relax and ease the pain.

I used a combination of this method and the chapters on painful intercourse in the "Celebration of Sex" book. I highly recommend the book, it was probably the single most helpful resource we used.

The majority of the pain cleared up within 4 to 6 weeks and I haven't had problems with it again until very recently. I am 21 weeks pregnant however, so I think that may be why I am having pain again (Pregnancy can cause dryness and thinning of vaginal walls).

As far as taking care of DH during the 6 week period, I just got creative with hand jobs and such. He was very supportive and wanted to solve the pain problem so he was more than happy to abstain from intercourse for that period of time.

The most important thing is to try to stay positive and just pray that God will heal you and allow your sex life to become what it was meant to be! I know this situation is so frustrating but don't give up hope!

sweetangel

Postby sweetangel » Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:00 pm

can I ask why you can't use your dh as a dialtor. Just slowly working with him and lube and foreplay

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Postby iha » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:11 pm

In addition to the interventions mentioned thus far, do not rule out couples/marriage/sex/pastoral therapy from a qualified professional.

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Postby sheila » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:07 pm

sweetangel wrote:can I ask why you can't use your dh as a dialtor. Just slowly working with him and lube and foreplay


Oh, goodness. Well, one reason may be that a dh doesn't fit. The dh doesn't fit because if one has vaginismus, the vaginal muscles automatically clamp shut when approached. This is an involuntary response. This response may have been conditioned as a response to pain, fear, allergic reaction, etc. If dilators are used, the woman progresses to the larger sizes. She starts with the smallest size so that fear or pain is not an issue.

In my case, well...I didn't know 'bout dilators. It was many years ago. I did use dh in the WOT position but it would have been so much easier had I been able to prepare first by using dilators.

Love, Sheila
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 17:8 NKJV

sweetangel

Postby sweetangel » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:09 pm

I was meaning his fingers. Sorry shoudl ahve clarified

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Postby MapleSyrup » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:40 pm

Sweetangel,

A big requirement of curing vaginismus (according to my doctor) is that the woman NEEDS to be in control and it's best if she does it alone so that she doesn't feel pressured to move to quickly or dh doesn't accidentally hurt her. ANY insertion accompanied by pain only makes the situation worse and prevents any progress from being made.
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sweetangel

Postby sweetangel » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:55 pm

Sorry i just thought it may help but obviously it is a lot more complicated than that. Is it a fear thing as in would counseling help in any way?

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Postby MapleSyrup » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:49 pm

It's kind of a fear thing. I don't think counselling would really help. It's more re-wiring my brain to make better associations than pain with penetration.

It's like, say, every time you spoke someone slapped you across the face. Pretty soon you'd wince every time you spoke in anticipation of the pain (i.e. involuntary muscle spasm) or you would just stop speaking completely (i.e. sexual refusal). So to continue with the metaphor, using a small dilator would be like a person whispering and learning not to wince each time they whispered because there is no longer a slap in the face for whispering. Slowly, you build up to talking louder and louder to the point where you can talk very loud without wincing and without getting slapped. At this point you could FINALLY enjoy speaking freely. However, if you got slapped again at any point, you'd basically instantly regress back to where you were to begin with.

Probably a flawed metaphor, but it's the best way I could think of to convey how frustrating and how difficult it is to get over penetration pain after having experienced it for 2.5 years.
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Postby sheila » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:33 am

sweetangel wrote:Sorry i just thought it may help but obviously it is a lot more complicated than that. Is it a fear thing as in would counseling help in any way?


Actually, I think counseling would help. I wish I had sought out counseling with a sex therapist when I had the need.

And these days, they are assembling multidisciplinary teams to help women. There team may include the following profesionals:

•An OB/GYN
•A professional counselor to help address the fear and possible underlying causes for vaginismus. For example, people from strong, religious systems are more at risk.
•A dermatologist because sometimes the problems stem from an allergic reaction to the semen or hypersensitivity due to repeated infections.
•A physical therapist who could help with exercises with the pelvic floor.

My textbook states that "sexual pain disorders may be viewed as primary pain disorders that affect sex, rather than disorders instrinsically sexual in nature." (Rosenbaum, 2007).

When I was first married, I did seek the help my OB/GYN. He prescribed Valium. It didn't help. It wasn't the doctor's fault. I should have gone back to him when it didn't help, but I was too embarrassed.

Love, Sheila
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 17:8 NKJV

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Postby MapleSyrup » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:14 am

I'm going to counselling for other things at the moment. But there are no sex therapists in my little town.. haha.

I personally don't think counselling would help for the sex problems specifically. Perhaps the underlying issues of anxiety. But not the sex. Just because it's an involuntary body reaction. But that's JMO.

I guess we'll have to see how things go. I talked it over with dh and we're ordering the dilators to see if that helps. My dh just wants us to have a "normal" sex life.
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Postby Sarah1 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:03 pm

I'm so very happy that you have a diagnosis Maple, and that you are progressing through your journey to more pleasureable sexual bonding with your DH. ::clap

g1cwells

Postby g1cwells » Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:06 pm

As a Christian therapist who specializes in sexual issues, I realize my opinion might be a bit biased. :) However, I would definitely recommend talking with your current counselor about your vaginismus. Even if he/she isn't familiar with the issue, there should be a willingness to become educated on the subject so, at the least, there can be empathy to what you're going through.

Beyond that suggestion, I'd highly recommend you NOT just buy dilators, but rather, buy the complete kit sold at http://www.vaginismus.com/. It includes the dilators, workbooks, and a video to help in your overcoming. Also, there is a forum you can participate in that is incredibly helpful.

Praying you success!

R. Greg Wells, MA, LPC
www.121cc.com/counseling

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Postby MapleSyrup » Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:42 pm

g1cwells wrote:
Beyond that suggestion, I'd highly recommend you NOT just buy dilators, but rather, buy the complete kit sold at http://www.vaginismus.com/. It includes the dilators, workbooks, and a video to help in your overcoming. Also, there is a forum you can participate in that is incredibly helpful.


Too late. :P I did buy my dilators from them, but I thought an additional $60 for a book and DVD was a waste of money. I found other sites with step-by-step instructions on how to use dilators to overcome vaginismus, so I figured that would be good enough. The dilators by themselves were already a stretch for our budget.

But please, by all means, if you've had experience with the workbooks and can offer me any advice, I'd love to hear from you!
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Postby MapleSyrup » Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:46 pm

Sarah1 wrote:I'm so very happy that you have a diagnosis Maple, and that you are progressing through your journey to more pleasureable sexual bonding with your DH. ::clap


Thanks Sarah! I appreciate it. Hopefully the journey will be a quick painless one. :)
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Postby MapleSyrup » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:03 am

Well, my dilators arrived yesterday!

I was wondering if anyone would be willing to write out a step-by-step guide on how to use dilators to overcome vaginismus. I have a general idea, but I'd love to hear from someone else.
"Let the wife make her husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave."
(Martin Luther)

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kate02

Postby kate02 » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:35 am

I've had vaginismis for nearly 3 years and started using dilators 4 weeks after we got married.

With regards as to how long it takes to be "cured", I think all the posts above show that it varies. Some posts say 6 weeks, others (like me) in excess of 3 years. My counsellor told me not to put any expectations or deadlines on achieving penetration.

Start with the smallest one (obviously). The important thing is to do this often - commit to at least once DAILY. Use tonnes of lube. STOP at even the slightest hint of pain - this pain is caused by the muscles spasming so pull the dilator out to the point that is painfree, relax, and then try again gently. I find it helps to breathe out as you insert the dilator. (If the smallest dilator is too painful - it was with me - then buy tampons and start with these - obviously throw them out after one use.)

I used the dilators daily until I could comfortably insert the largest. I also used them pre-sex and although this significantly decreased the "spontaneousness" of sex it really helped as I was then less anxious about penetration as I felt prepared for it. Once you reach the point of attempting penetration make sure that this is regular too. I find it painful to attempt it everyday but every other day is ok.

In terms of "relapse", in my case this problem is still very present in our sex life. Occasionally we can achieve penetration first time without dilators but this hasn't happened for months. Recently I'm back to using the dilators pre sex and I had a spell where I was back to being unable to even insert the second size. The important thing is to not stress as this makes it worse. If we attempt penetration and its too sore then my husband is really good at reassuring me and we change track and go for oral/manual instead - and then try again the next day.

One important thing to realise is that fixing vaginismis takes commitment so you need to free up your diary and make it a priority. If you don't have time to train daily then it will just take longer - I learnt this the hard way.

Well done for being pro-active about the problem - is the only way to fix it.

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Postby MapleSyrup » Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:06 pm

Thank you, Kate!
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Postby MapleSyrup » Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:44 am

So I'm feeling pretty frustrated lately. The dilators don't seem to be doing much and I feel rushed because dh is (of course) feeling very antsy for sex. I just feel like screaming and hiding from my dh. I love him and I know he is trying to be supportive, but I don't feel like this dilator thing is getting me anywhere (it's now been 5 weeks since we've had intercourse, and dh is about to go nuts, even with OS offered whenever he needs it).

As happy as I am to get a diagnosis, I'm pretty frustrated that the gyno just handed me a label and ushered me out the door with a "see ya in a year!". I received no direction on how to use dilators (they were just a suggestion he made) and I received no alternative treatment options.

Gah, I'm just so frustrated!!! I feel like I've been ripped off. Sex is supposed to be GOOD and I absolutely HATE it. I make up lame excuses not to have it because I'm afraid of it. WHY couldn't God have made spouses to enjoy sex equally and have equal drives all the time! It just seems CRUEL to leave us like this.


::cb
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